Volunteers play a huge role in helping the James River Association achieve its mission. Much of our work would not be possible without the knowledge and dedication of our volunteers. Whether it is a trash cleanup, water quality testing, invasive species management, restoration plantings or help with office tasks, volunteers give us a direct connection to the diverse communities we work with throughout the watershed.

“I benefit from the access to the river and to Chapel Island. How many Churchillians know of this quiet treasure? Some I guess, but more could be possible once it is restored to its native beauty.”

Meet Joel Cabot of Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia, a regular at our monthly volunteer days on Chapel Island at Great Shiplock Park. From pulling invasive honeysuckle and privet to planting natives, Joel does it all with a positive attitude and infectious smile.

Joel worked as a high school math teacher in France and Africa, then as a data architect in France and the United States. When he moved to Richmond, he began volunteering with the Richmond Tree Stewards and became a Master Gardener. Joel first started volunteering with the James River Association in 2014. He came out for numerous work days at Belmead in Powhatan to help with a large riparian buffer planting project, using his green thumb to help plant over 1,000 trees. When asked why he chooses to volunteer with the James River Association, he says he enjoys being outside in a peaceful environment, meeting new people, and being able to give back to nature. “What else could I want?” he says.

Joel would encourage people to volunteer with the James River Association to reconnect with nature, de-stress, and learn more about local flora and fauna. No matter how small your contribution, you are making a positive impact. He finds it rewarding to see the progress that a small group of people can make on one area to turn it into a healthier and more inviting space. As a runner, he enjoys utilizing the park he has worked so hard to improve. Thanks for everything that you do, Joel!

Interested in volunteering with Joel and other like-minded folks? Check out our events calendar for upcoming opportunities, or email our Volunteer Coordinator Sophie Stern at sstern@jrava.org.