This Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting Wonder Women in our Watershed currently making history by impacting the environment and communities within our James River watershed in positive and important ways.

We’ll be featuring four women whose work aligns with the four pillars of delivering our mission – Action, Advocacy, Appreciation, and Awareness.

This highlight is all about Awareness (ensuring all watershed residents know their connection to the James and their role in protecting it) and our partnership with the amazing Krista Weatherford, Maymont’s Director of Programming and Community Engagement. Read all about how she was first inspired to protect our natural resources, her passion for connecting young women, especially young women of color with environmental opportunities, and the important ways her role at Maymont intersect our JRA’s educational programming and goals to inspire good stewardship of our River.


Tell us about your current role and how you incorporate the James River in your work.

I am the Director of Programming and Community Engagement at Maymont, which is situated along the James River. Maymont’s mission is to delight, educate and inspire. One important aspect of the Programming and Community Engagement department is environmental education with specific connections to the James River. The Robins Nature Center reopened in 2020 with a new experience, Run of the River, centered on the James River. While The Robins Nature Center has always interpreted the James River, this new experience has created more immersive opportunities to learn about the river and all of the wonderful flora and fauna that are found in and around the James. Maymont also promotes citizen science and stewardship of the James River watershed within the Run of the River exhibition as well as through general programming, citizen science workshops and monitoring programs like FrogWatch and water quality monitoring of the waterways that transect the estate and flow to the James River. Maymont also is a showcase for conservation efforts like rain barrels, rain gardens, using native plants in landscaping, and artivism (three storm drains at The Robins Nature Center will be painted through JRA’s Paint Out Pollution program; a video will be released in April of the painting process with educational content from JRA educators). The James River is such an important natural resource for Richmond and Virginia – we look for any opportunities to talk about it and the great habitats the river has for diverse wildlife.

What originally sparked your passion for protecting our natural resources?

I grew up in Dallas, Texas. My mother loved to travel and instilled in her 2 daughters that love of exploration. I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors – hiking, camping and canoeing. Also, as a kid, I loved the PBS nature shows and then, my fascination exploded with the debut of cable which offered so many great channels like the Discovery Channel and a bit later, Animal Planet. Even more than that, I loved going to zoos, aquariums and nature centers. I love the outdoors and feel our natural resources are important and need to be protected.

Do you have any advice for young women who wish to make a difference for our environment, especially young women who see themselves underrepresented in the environmental field?

I feel very passionate about young women, especially women of color, to get involved in environmental education and stewardship job opportunities. This field can seem lonely at times as a women of color, so it is important to find a mentor. This movement needs “all hands on deck” and I know there are women of color who are passionate about our natural resources and outdoor recreation – they need encouragement to go into this field. There are challenges that our society needs to address including livable wages, hiring practices, and broadening opportunities as well as overcoming stereotypes and type casting for positions. We have come a long way, but there is more to do.

What is your favorite thing to do on or around the river?

Wildlife is my passion, so my favorite thing to do is spending time looking for and observing wildlife! Watching an eagle fly overhead, seeing squirrels play on a tree trunk, watch a beaver swim, find a toad or frog along the river edge – these are perfect activities!
We are so grateful to Krista and all our women James Changers, and we know there are many other Wonder Women out there making a big difference for our waterways! Please share a story about a Wonder Woman you know by emailing us at, and we’ll share your story with our community!