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, volunteers will be assigned to at least 1 property that they will monitor for 3 years. Requirements of the program are:

  • The volunteers will visit the assigned site 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 the needed number of visits per site before assigning a Steward, so that we match up the right Steward to the right site based on their capacity and interest.
  • The volunteers will fill out a form while on site that notes tree mortality, invasive species identification, and other notes about success of planted buffer.
  • The volunteers will correct damaged tree stakes and shelters, and simple clearing of competitive vegetation (i.e. vines growing through tree shelters).
  • Once the visit is completed, the volunteer will submit the report form to the Riparian Stewards Coordinator. Based on this report, James River Association staff will take care of ordering any replacement trees and take charge of replacing the seedlings during the following planting season.

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