Hello, hello! My name is Jordan Cramer and I am the water quality monitoring intern for the James River Association’s James River Watch program. I just graduated from Christopher Newport University in May, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. Now I get to spend my first summer of adulthood assisting with monitoring the health of our beloved James River across the watershed, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

I first interacted with the James River Association on the first of many weekend trips to Presquile National Wildlife Refuge when I was a sophomore at Monacan High School (Go Chiefs!), and I absolutely fell in love: with nature, with biology, and of course with the JRA. Even though I was only 16 and had many more years of schooling between me and a career, I suddenly knew that I wanted to work for the JRA when I grew up. As soon as I got home from the first trip, I followed them on social media and proceeded to go on as many Presquile trips as I could in my remaining years as a high schooler, and even ended up ‘chaperoning’ on one my freshman year of college! I stayed in touch with the James River Association and US Fish and Wildlife Service staff that I met there, which led me to having an internship last summer with Beyond Boundaries: a nonprofit that takes anyone and everyone out adventuring on the James, despite possible obstacles such as disabilities or monetary limitations.

I found the James River Association internship completely on accident. I sat down at my computer one day in the very beginning of my last semester ever of college with the intention of looking for “big girl jobs”. Very quickly, I got distracted by puppy videos on Facebook, as is my weakness. As I scrolled down my fluffy-animal-packed news feed, a James River Association post caught my eye. The link read “Employment with the James River Association” and my head filled with memories of the blast I had had each time I went on a JRA trip. It spoke of an internship that was vital in assisting JRA staff with James River Watch, a watershed-wide water quality monitoring program. My heart sank when I saw the word internship, as these positions usually favored current college students and I would be a college graduate by the start of the internship. Discouraged but still curious, I commented and asked if they would accept a college grad’s application. Almost immediately, I received a reply encouraging me to apply. To say I was ecstatic is a gross understatement.

Fast forward five months, and I’m writing this from my intern nook at the JRA’s Richmond office! To say it has already been such a blast would not do it justice! Every single person that works for the James River Association has inspired me, laughed with me, and been endlessly helpful in teaching me, whether it has been through an Excel spreadsheet or an evening paddle. They all push me out of my comfort zone, ask me my opinion, and let me take the lead.

In my time outside of this amazing internship, I am lucky to have a flexible job at Alewerks Brewing Company in Williamsburg, which is also an absolute blast! I live just outside of Richmond, in Midlothian (thanks Mom and Dad for letting me ruin your empty-nesters plan for now!). In my free time, you can find me adventuring

with my dog, Rocky, eating my way through Richmond with my friends, or going to the countless craft beverage establishments in this state with my family. I also own a photography business and have been revamping my website for that whenever I have a spare second.

I was born and raised in Midlothian, and spend as much time in Richmond as I can. I have always loved this city: the art, the river, the people, the fashion. Being away for school just made me appreciate it all even more. Richmonders are fiercely passionate, and I can’t say I’ve met kinder, more outdoors-loving people anywhere else.

As the water quality monitoring intern, I am most excited to work with all our dedicated volunteers across the state! I have already had the pleasure of meeting some of them, and they all have had the coolest experiences to share. I am also hungry to learn as much as possible in the next couple months. Even in these first few weeks, I have learned so much! Everything I’ve done, I had no idea how to do when I first started! In this position, I will mostly be assisting JRA staff and volunteers run James River Watch, which collects samples across the James River watershed. We test air and water temperature, conductivity, site conditions, turbidity (how much sediment can be found in the water), and E. coli bacteria presence, then release that data to the public so they can determine if the water quality is safe for, for example, swimming. This information can be found at our James River Watch website – www.jamesriverwatch.org.

I am so thankful to be here as 2019’s intern for James River Watch, and getting to help with this and other programs of the James River Association. Walking in the footsteps of those that came before me, who personally inspired me to take this path, and getting to help my community while I’m at it, makes me feel so grateful.