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.

One of Doug’s SAV posts from September 2017

Meet Doug Couvillion, volunteer RiverRat and winner of our 2017 Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) monitoring contest! From May to September, we asked volunteers to survey areas of the James River watershed to help scientists collect data for tracking underwater grass health of the river. SAV grows in shallow waters across the watershed and are the basis of important and productive ecosystems. Doug submitted the most posts of SAV in the James River watershed on the Water Reporter app, which collects data from thousands of citizen scientists to coordinate restoration efforts around the world. Check out Doug’s posts and learn more about how you can get involved in our SAV monitoring efforts in 2018 and the chance to win a $50 REI gift card!

Originally from Manassas, VA, Doug moved to Richmond in 1997 with his wife and hasn’t looked back. He has worked in IT since 1992 and currently works for a small technology company based in Alexandria. He enjoys flat water paddling, hiking, running, and photography. Volunteering with the James River Association was a natural fit! In 2016 Doug and his wife participated in the James River Splash & Dash and were looking for opportunities to give back to the community. He completed our RiverRats training in 2016 and regularly patrols at Huguenot Flatwater, a quick 20 minutes from home.

 “Since I’m frequently on the river, being a RiverRat doesn’t take much extra time. I’m there and just report what I’m seeing. Several times I’ve been able to report problems and someone from JRA has taken the lead in getting them resolved. One example was last summer when I was on an overnight trip on the Rivanna River. At one of the bridge crossings there was a cut power or phone line hanging in the water. I marked the location, took a photo, and reported it. The Riverkeeper contacted the local authorities to make sure the line was removed from the river.”

Doug would encourage other people to volunteer with the James River Association to share the river with others and help protect it. There are many ways to get involved for every level of time commitment. Getting outdoors and connecting to nature is a great way to recharge. Thanks for all that you do, Doug!

Interested in volunteering? Check out our events calendar for upcoming opportunities, or email our Volunteer Coordinator Sophie Stern at sstern@jrava.org.