Riparian Stewards

The James River Association’s Riparian Stewards are volunteers that work with our staff to nurture and monitor select riparian forest buffers installed through the James River Buffer Program.

The first 3 years after a forest buffer is planted are critical to ensure their health and survival, which is why we offer assistance during that time to landowners who install buffers through the James River Buffer Program.

Most of these sites are maintained by contractors, while other smaller projects are maintained by our Riparian Stewards. 

If you’re a nature nut and don’t mind getting a little dirty, this opportunity is perfect for you!

After the initial training with our staff, volunteer Riparian Stewards will be assigned to at least 1 region where they will assist with buffer maintenance and tree planting. Requirements of the program are:

  • The Stewards will join JRA staff at least twice per year, or at most once per month. Each site is unique and the frequency of visits will depend on site needs. James River Association staff will determine how many volunteers should be assigned per region so that we match up the right Steward to the right area based on their capacity and interest.
  • During site visits, the Stewards will fill out a form that notes tree mortality, invasive species identification, and other notes about the success of the planted buffer. The Stewards will also correct damaged tree stakes and shelters, and simple clearing of competitive vegetation (i.e. vines growing through tree shelters).
  • Join a community of environmental specialists and gain access to information on topics such as native plant ID, and invasive plant management.

No prior knowledge is necessary and JRA will provide any tools and training needed. Volunteers must be able to provide their own transportation to the site and cover travel costs, and must be able to walk on uneven ground, work in varying weather conditions, and be okay with getting dirty!

We are currently seeking Riparian Stewards to assign to sites located in Amherst, Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Nelson Counties. As the program expands Stewards will be needed to take on more projects in other counties throughout the Middle James Watershed.

Joey Shelton

Joey Shelton

Riparian Stewardship Coordinator • (434) 286-7000