Although this school year looks a little different, The James River Association is still committed to offering our students the best environmental education at this time. Our Education program still works to connect youth with river-based learning experiences that inspire confidence, ecological understanding, nature appreciation, and conservation action. Our educators are navigating current challenges with solutions like our new virtual classroom, Fun Friday days with small groups in Lynchburg, and guided canoe paddles in the Richmond area (for adults!) 
This fall as students return to school and we all enjoy the last bit of warmth on the river, we wanted to you to (virtually) meet each of our educators to witness their passion for the James, and for the environment yourself. Meet Katie Ferrell, JRA Senior Environmental Educator in the Williamsburg area.


I’m Katie Ferrell, the senior environmental educator in our Williamsburg office. My love for the great outdoors started at an early age. With a National Park ranger mother, I spent endless days exploring National Parks along the East Coast and frequently fished on the James River with my father. I noticed early on that the health of the James was important as I saw first-hand how the water quality, and pollution that infected our water, was damaging our local ecosystem. My dedication to conserving our environment, especially our water systems, lead me to a BA in Environmental Studies from Ashford University and an MS in Natural Resource Management from the University of Denver. From researching sea turtles in North Carolina to spearheading environmental education programs in Florida, I became cognizant of the impact water qualities have on communities. I was excited to return to my Virginia roots with the charge of educating our youth on the importance of protecting our watershed, the significance of clean water, and how they can revive the environment.

My job entails leading our Lower James expedition trips, helping with our Leadership Academy program, leading paddles with our Connect with the James program, and running additional education programs. In the Williamsburg office, we love getting students on the water so they can experience hands-on learning. Students come to us to learn about their watershed, the impacts humans have on the environment, what a wetland is, how to test water quality, and for many, getting on the water by canoe for the first time. The most rewarding part of my job would be the students leaving and wanting to come back and learn more. A lot of our students have never been on the water and they are a little intimidated by it. By the end of the trip, they are so excited and want to take their family out on the James. Seeing that excitement reminds me daily that what we do is so important. These students are our future and I love that they are excited about protecting the environment. 

- Katie Ferrell

Lower James Senior Environmental Educator