Meet RiverRat Will David, a 71 year-old retired teacher from Newport News, VA. He has an interest in engaging Virginia’s youth in water quality citizen science, which started for him about three years ago when attending Master Naturalist training classes.


Constructing oyster spat cages, Will’s upcoming Action Project!

Will stays busy working for the health of the James River! He currently holds the positions of James River Association RiverRat, DEQ water quality tester and trainer, Chesapeake Bay Captain, Leave-No-Trace trainer, Virginia Living Museum volunteer, Master Oyster Gardener with Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association, oyster shell recycler for Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Board Member of the Newport News Green Foundation. We are so grateful for volunteers like Will.

Service has been a lifelong passion for Will who has been active with the Boy Scouts of America for 63 years. He has accomplished Eagle Scout, Vigil, Centurion Award, and Silver Beaver, and served on 13 national Boy Scout Conferences and 10 Jamborees. He is now mentoring six Eagle Scout projects focused on conservation of the James River.

Will lives near the James River and is concerned about water quality. He discovered that many of his neighbors knew little about the health of our waterways, so he works hard to teach people how to do their part to protect water quality. He believes that the future depends upon educating our youth to be nature stewards, and he has focused on empowering the next generation through Boy Scouts’ activities at schools. His work has reached beyond the James River watershed, completing trail work with Boy Scouts in George Washington/Jefferson National Forest and in West Virginia near the Summit Bechtel Reserve Scouts camp.

With the James River Association RiverRat program, Will is planning a long-term Action Project with Boy Scouts that involves constructing, placing and monitoring 20 oyster spat cages in the James River around Newport News. Cages will be built and installed by Boy Scouts on private docks that will allow homeowners to be engaged in oyster restoration. Will estimates that each cage will eventually filter up 50 gallons of water per day! Boy Scouts will also develop outreach materials to hand out at the Virginia Living Museum and other community events in Newport News.


Oyster Reef! (photo: Virginia Living Museum)

When asked about his most memorable experience on the James, Will said it was canoeing for a white water course; seeing the power of the water propelling the boat along and then the quiet moments in between rapids drifting and listening to the soaring birds, splashing fish, sliding snakes, and thriving wildlife all around. He will always enjoy learning about the environment and getting the opportunity to do something positive to support it. For Will, discovering the wonders of nature, on the water, never ceases to amaze.