May 8, 2023


Erin Hillert, Assistant Director of Communications
James River Association
(e) (c) 608.239.2644

James River Association Breaks Ground on James A. Buzzard River Education Center

The state-of-the-art facility will serve as a catalyst for river education, environmental awareness, and community connection

RICHMOND, VA—Richmond’s riverfront will have a new landmark building that will introduce thousands of students to the James River every year.

The James A. Buzzard River Education Center to be located on Dock Street will serve as a new hub for environmental education, connecting students and the region with the river and advancing the James River Association (JRA)’s vision of a fully healthy river supporting thriving communities. The new river center will expand JRA’s education program and help reach Virginia’s goal of giving every student three meaningful watershed experiences before they graduate.

Located in Richmond’s East End, the James A. Buzzard River Education Center and the surrounding park will provide greater river access to a part of the community that historically has been underserved. With close proximity to woods, shallow water, the tidal James, and protected waters, the site is strategically positioned to provide quick access to a variety of environmental education and river experiences.

“Our goal is to make sure that every child growing up in what Outside magazine named ‘The Best Rivertown Ever’ is introduced to the James River and is able to enjoy a lifetime of the benefits it provides,” said Bill Street, President and CEO of JRA. “Breaking ground on this project is the culmination of more than six years of searching for a site, planning and design. We are thrilled to finally have this project becoming a reality.”

JRA hosted a press event on Monday, May 8 to celebrate breaking ground on their James A. Buzzard River Education Center in downtown Richmond.

The funding for the project was raised under the umbrella of JRA’s recent $25 million James Changer Campaign, thanks to the very generous contributions from the broader Richmond community. The building is named for James “Jim” A. Buzzard, who was chair of the JRA Board of Directors as well as former president of MeadWestvaco, and made the first commitment to the campaign. After his death in 2021, his wife, Susan Snyder, increased the gift and rallied friends and family to honor Jim’s love of the James and his dedication to JRA’s work.

In 2021, JRA purchased the 0.85 acres for the project from The Conservation Fund, which, in collaboration with The Capital Region Land Conservancy, secured the larger 5-acre parcel along Dock Street. Construction, engineering and design partners for the building and facilities include 3North, Timmons Group, and Kjellstrom+Lee. At present, the grand opening of the James A. Buzzard River Education is slated for the summer of 2024.

To learn more about the James A. Buzzard River Education Center and the James Changer Campaign, visit


See quotes from Virginia elected officials below

ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000-square mile watershed, the James River Association works toward its vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. The James River Association believes that “when you change the James, the James changes you”. With offices in Lynchburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Scottsville, the James River Association is committed to protecting the James River and connecting people to it. For more information visit

James A. Buzzard River Education Center Groundbreaking:

Statements from Virginia Elected Officials


U.S. Senator Tim Kaine

“I’ve been proud to work on the local, state, and federal levels—in partnership with the James River Association—to restore and protect the James,” said Senator Kaine. “The James A. Buzzard Education Center will continue that critical work by providing students with environmental education opportunities, improving river access for the local community, and helping ensure folks can enjoy the James for years to come.”

U.S. Senator Mark Warner

“Richmond’s riverfront is rich with cultural history and ecological beauty,” said Sen. Warner. “The James A. Buzzard River Education Center will ensure that more students will have the chance to learn about and experience everything the James River has to offer.”

Governor and First Lady of Virginia, Suzanne S. Youngkin

“The James River is one of Virginia’s most sparkling environmental success stories and has been a model for how this administration is also prioritizing care of the natural resources throughout the Commonwealth. Without the leadership and support of the James River Association, the Commonwealth would not have seen the improvements to water quality and the health of the Chesapeake Bay that we are blessed with today. Glenn and I are thrilled that through this new education center, countless Virginia students will obtain better access to the James River and all its educational and recreational benefits, as well as step into a greater understanding of the James River’s importance,” said First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin.

City of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney

“As Mayor of this great city, I could not be more excited about this project and the abundance of opportunities it will provide,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “By offering additional recreational activities to our residents and proactively engaging our students through hands-on learning experiences, the Center will benefit our community in countless ways. I’m especially excited about the expansion of JRA’s educational programming and how the Center will make high-quality, outdoor learning experiences accessible to all of our students.”

City of Richmond Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille

“I applaud and thank the James River Association and all of its members for their tremendous energy and ongoing care and commitment to the City of Richmond’s East End,” said Richmond City Councilwoman Cynthia I. Newbille, Richmond East End 7th District. “Breaking ground on what will be a signature building in Richmond’s East End is a very exciting occasion for all members of our community, all Richmonders, and all visitors to our beautiful city, who will benefit from new opportunities to learn about, and enjoy our beloved James River.”