Greetings! My name is Rachael and I am the Water Quality Intern at the James River Association for the summer of 2018. I am a Senior at Virginia Commonwealth University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Mathematics. I am also in the River Studies and Leadership Certificate program at VCU which is overseen by the River Management Society and helps to focus my Environmental Studies degree on rivers, whether that be in policy, recreation, or science. In this internship position I will be helping with the James River Watch Program which monitors water quality up and down the James River. I am incredibly excited for the work we will be doing and that it will have a direct impact on the river that I spend a large portion of my time on.

In my free time, you can usually find me outside hiking, paddling, or skiing throughout the year. I am fortunate enough to work where I play by raft guiding on the James River as well as other rivers. I also work as a trip leader for VCU’s Outdoor Adventure Program leading Canoeing, Backpacking, Biking, and other fun trips. I am originally from Poquoson, VA and moved to Richmond when I enrolled at VCU and quickly fell in love with the people, the river, and the sense of community I found here.

In this position I am most excited to work with the volunteers who will be helping us collect the samples and do the testing. I always enjoy meeting people who are passionate about protecting and learning about our natural spaces. I will be primarily helping the staff and volunteers run the water quality monitoring program which collects data on different sections of the James. The main criteria that we are testing is temperature, site conditions, turbidity (how much sediment is floating in the water), and E.Coli bacteria presence. We release all the data collected to the public so they can know whether or not conditions are good for swimming, fishing, or recreating on any given week. All of this information can be found at our James River Watch website.

Overall, I am super stoked to be working for the James River Association and to be able to help with their other programs whether that be environmental education, restoration, or outreach. I am truly fortunate to be doing work that I can feel good about and that helps better my community and my environment.