Meet RiverRat Daphne Cole, 63, from Blackstone, VA. Daphne is a retired educator who taught Kindergarten through 11th grade for 38 years! When she is not on the river, she loves birdwatching, playing tennis, running, biking, gardening, and reading. Recently Daphne has attended Congressman Dave Brat’s townhall meeting to talk about climate change, attended the James River Association and Chesapeake Bay Foundation Water Lobby Day at the General Assembly and another lobby day with Virginia Conservation Voters. She has set up two subaquatic vegetation tanks at Nottoway Intermediate school, taught about the James River watershed and ecology using EnviroScape, and plans to do much, much more!  Read below about why Daphne got involved with the work of the James River Association:

“I am an Air Force ‘brat’ who spent a great deal of my youth in Fox Hill, VA which is near Grandview and Buckroe Beach. The marshes and tidal pools were wonderful playgrounds. My grandmother lived in Williamsburg and I enjoyed both the James and the York growing up. I participated in 4-H and went to camp on the James River. One year I couldn’t attend due to a large fish kill and they closed the camp. On the York, my grandparents and neighbors removed eel grass which led to the bank where her house stood to collapse and they had to try to regrow the grass. So, I was very aware of environmental concerns.

Although I just joined Riverrats, I have volunteered to attend the General Assembly to advocated to clean water and air. I felt empowered although a bit nervous about approaching my delegate and senator but they were nervous to see me also!. Congressman Brat came to our town, Blackstone for a town hall meeting which was very educational. My husband and I have scoped out our part of the Appomattox River to monitor and found creative ways to obtain a canoe to do this.

Currently, my most memorable experience on the river is excitement of the fifth and sixth graders who have been introduced to Save the Grasses for the Masses with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. They are so excited to make a difference to the James River and thankfully, the grasses have germinated! They are citizen scientists and feel so empowered. They shared “this is best activity we have ever done!” Most of them have only seen the James and Appomattox rivers from a car but experience small ponds and creeks around where I live in Nottoway County. I can’t wait until we plant at Westover Plantation in the Spring! We have also used a demonstration model of a watershed and to show how point source and non point source pollution runs into the James and then into the Chesapeake Bay. They understand that streams, rivers and bays all ties in together! 

Volunteering gives back to our communities and ourselves. There are so many events that need help and you can make such a difference. When you volunteer, you continue to grow emotionally, intellectually as well as sharing this knowledge with others!”

Thanks Daphne! We appreciate all the work you do to help protect and preserve the James River.