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.
Meet Valerie Hubbard! Valerie is a RiverRat, water quality monitor, invasive species tackler, native tree planter, and advocate for the James. We love having Valerie as part of our team!
Tell us a bit about yourself. I am a freelance writer, public relations professional, and former newspaper reporter. Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and the environment are my passions. I was appointed in 2015 by Governor McAuliffe to serve on the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation Board. I advocate for water quality issues at the Virginia General Assembly as a Clean Water Captain for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
How did you get involved with volunteering for the James River Association? Growing up in Richmond and always around the water, the health of the James River has always been close to my heart. I spend time canoeing with my father and rafting with friends. In high school I spent weekends swimming at Pony Pasture. The river has always been the best part of living in Richmond. As an adult, I have long been a volunteer with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation but wanted to also focus my volunteer efforts on the James River. I started doing small clean up projects with the James River Association about six or seven years ago, joining the association and becoming a RiverRat.
What is your personal connection to the area you volunteer? I am inextricably tied to the James River. I grew up sailing on the Chesapeake with my family, but living in Richmond we always took advantage of being next to one of the country’s most historic and beautiful waterways. Swimming, canoeing, rafting and kayaking. My mother is a tremendous history buff and in the 1980s began the non-profit “Richmond on the James,” which offered the first riverboat tours on the James from the Intermediate Terminal to teach residents and visitors alike about the importance of the river. My parents have lived on Church Hill overlooking the river from Libby Terrace for more than 40 years. I want to do whatever I can to protect the health of this vital river.
Why would you encourage others to volunteer with the James River Association? I have volunteered with a number of very fine nonprofits working to protect our waterways and environment, but the James River Association efforts are personal. They have always been focused on doing meaningful work and connecting volunteers to the value of their efforts. For example, when I trained to be a water quality monitor, the staff stressed how important the data we collected would be for people using the river each and every day. In every project, from RiverRat monitoring, to collecting discarded fishing line, to yanking stubborn and very pesky privet out of the ground on Chapel Island, to tree planting, the importance of the job is the focus. Best of all is working with like-minded staff and volunteers who all share the same passion for the river.
Want to volunteer with us? Check out our calendar for upcoming events and training sessions!