Beth Butner June Volunteer of the MonthWe love our RiverRat volunteers! They act as the James River’s first line of citizen defense by assisting our Riverkeepers as the eyes and ears of the river and its tributaries. RiverRats come from all over the watershed, are all ages and have many different backgrounds. You don’t need to be a scientist or skilled paddler to become a RiverRat.

Meet our June Volunteer of the Month, Beth Butner. She is a retired Chesterfield County middle school educator. While she has lived in Chesterfield for over 40 years, she was born and raised in Isle of Wight County near Smithfield. She still co-owns her family farm with her sister, and she and her husband also are lucky enough to own a weekend home on the James in the Day’s Point area outside of Smithfield. Isle of Wight was one of the original English land shires in Virginia and Beth’s ancestors were some of its first settlers. She has a strong appreciation for history and loves to sit on her dock reading up on Virginia’s history and imaging ships passing by on the James.

Beth and her husband have been James River Association members for over 25 years because of their deep connection with the river. Their home provides them a front row seat to Virginia’s history and beauty and they consider themselves cheerleaders for cities and counties that emphasize and celebrate our flowing treasure. Beth also shares her love for the James with her son. They are both Lower James RiverRats who patrol between the Pagan River and Burwell’s Bay. Beth feels it is “the least we can do…to be good stewards of a small but valuable part of this natural treasure.”

found sturgeonRecently, she was walking in the Morgart’s Beach area near their home and she found a dead, untagged sturgeon in the grass. She was in awe of the prehistoric specimen and saddened that it had met its demise. Unable to determine the cause of death, she assumed it had washed ashore and vultures had moved it to a grassy area. Beth called the James River Association to report this unfortunate discovery.

Protecting and preserving the river is incredibly important to Beth. She couldn’t be more proud to call the James River watershed her home. “I feel the James River is the lifeblood of Virginia as it flows through her with such vibrancy and provides so many opportunities for her inhabitants to live, work, enjoy and prosper,” said Beth. “I am proud to be a Virginian who can enjoy and be blessed by the mighty James!”

Are you interested in volunteering for the James? If so, contact Ben Hawkins, Volunteer Coordinator, at or (804) 788-8811, ext. 204.