Meet Anne Bloomsburg who lives in Richmond, VA. She is an Editor & Regulations Analyst for the Commonwealth of Virginia. She became a James River Association River Rat in March 2017. Read below what volunteering for JRA means for her!

“The James River is the best part of Richmond. I’m a hiker, biker, and paddleboarder. In the past seven days, I have volunteered three times with the James River Association. Each experience was rewarding and fun and gave me a greater understanding of and appreciation for the James River, which is the best thing about Richmond, Virginia, my adopted home town.

Friday, April 28, I volunteered for invasive species removal on Chapel Island. About 15 of us dug and pulled all of the garlic mustard we could get our hands on. Garlic mustard looks a lot like native Virginia violets, but as an invasive plant species it doesn’t benefit our ecosystem like a native plant would, instead it just absorbs resources. I’m a gardener, and I love weeding. This was some really great Friday afternoon, beautiful day, down by the river weeding.

One of the last pairs to visit the table in the afternoon was a mother with her 4-year-old daughter. They stopped at the table, and we talked about the seed balls, and the daughter chose one, then while her mother and I were talking about the sturgeon monitoring program and the River Rat program, for which I just recently did the training, little miss went in her mom’s purse, retrieved pencil and notepad and proceeded to “take notes.” Very cute. I am not by nature an outgoing person, so having something important like the James River and its health to talk to people really brought me out of my shell. People are very interested in getting out and having adventures on the river, and I do believe that the more individuals understand how they impact, not just the James River but the environment in general, the more they care about that impact.

Tuesday, May 2, I did water monitoring training. For my job, I read regulations, which includes water quality regulations, and I am very excited to cultivate the skills to monitor the quality of the river. Just one more way to be a steward of something really important: our river.”

We thank Anne for getting out in the community to help protect the James River!

“I volunteered to represent JRA at Petersburg’s River Fest, sponsored by Friends of the Lower Appomattox River, on Saturday April 29. My spouse, Pierre Picardat, grew up in Petersburg, and we lived in Colonial Heights for a number of years, so when I saw the opportunity to volunteer down in Petersburg, I thought it would be fun to spend a Saturday afternoon in the Tri-Cities. And, it was really fun. Saturday was a beautiful, hot day, but all of the tables were in the shade; the weather was perfect. We gave away native plant seed balls, which were very popular. The seed balls were an awesome way to get folks, especially kids, to the table. Representing an organization with such a long history of doing good work is easy; JRA has a program guaranteed to interest everyone, no matter what their interests are. Connecting with the people who stopped at the table to ask questions and get information was interesting and rewarding.Three boys (probably 4th to 6th graders) were the first people who visited the table. They asked about the seed balls, and I explained what they were. And then, we all just sort of stood there for a second, until I asked…”Do you want one?” And they all said, “YES!” That was great! They were very excited about the seed balls.”