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Hills & Heights

James River Association’s ‘Kids in Kayaks’ program aims to establish a lifelong love for our waterways

The James River Association (JRA) will once again be providing their annual ‘Kids in Kayaks’ programs to get students in the Middle and Lower James River Watershed on the water for several days of adventure, appreciation, and education.

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The James River Association (JRA) will once again be providing their annual ‘Kids in Kayaks’ programs to get students in the Middle and Lower James River Watershed on the water for several days of adventure, appreciation, and education.
The program began at the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and Baltimore National Heritage Area in 2015. In 2018, Fort Monroe created a new chapter in collaboration with the James River Association and National Parks Conservation Association.

Kids in Kayaks exposes a diverse group of middle school-age students to kayaking while they also learn environmental topics covered in the 8th Grade Virginia Science Standards Of Learning (SOL). This program gives students practical life skills, and encourages them to enjoy their surrounding environment.

“It is essential for students to have hands-on experience within a wetland to truly understand the beauty and science that happens daily.” says Katie Ferrell, JRA’s Lower James Senior Environmental Educator. “We want students to have these opportunities to become responsible environmental stewards that value the James River. It is of utmost importance to teach our students the importance of keeping our waterways safe, clean, and viable for many generations to come; teaching our students to love the James River is our number one priority because if you love something you nurture it into the future.”

Student participants will experience a variety of fun activities that connect them to the river and teach them about the importance of natural resources. These activities include paddle trips, seine netting, an exercise called ‘Wetlands in a Bottle’ that drives home the infrastructure and importance of our wetlands, and several lessons based around watershed education.

“The James River Association is so excited to partner with Newport News Parks and Rec, James City County Parks and Rec, Newport News Public Schools, and Hampton City schools for another great year of kids in kayaks!” Ferrell continues. “This is a great way to safely get kids outdoors this summer. We cannot wait to get back on the water!”

Programs will be provided through Hampton City Schools, Newport News Parks and Recreation, Newport News Public Schools, James City County Parks and Recreation, and the Richmond Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club.

Ken Samuel, Education Manager for the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, reflects on past Kids in Kayaks programming: “A majority of the students had an absolute blast. They had a great time in the canoes racing against their friends. They enjoyed the pontoon boat and being able to handle different varieties of fish, and also being able to hold the crabs and know whether they were male or female. They also talked about lazily floating along the river, seeing the houses along the banks, and feeling the peacefulness of the water. It was a new experience for many of them and their confidence and stamina grew as the week went on.”

As part of the program, JRA is also partnering with the Richmond Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club to provide free pontoon boat trips for families on Saturday, May 15. JRA educators will facilitate the trips and teach participants about current issues facing the James River, and efforts to improve its health.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Neighborhood Clean-Up Saturday in Strafford Hills and Willow Oaks

Get rid of the junk you may have in your trunk, basement, attic or closet.

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Neighborhood Clean-Up this Saturday, June 26 for the Strafford Hills and Willow Oaks area (ZONE 13) from 8 am to Noon. We take EVERYTHING except: electronics, construction debris, hazardous waste items & broken glass. For more details, go to rva.gov/public-works/n

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Community

Permit Points to Winery Coming to Westover Hills

Don’t whine about what’s going into old dry cleaners unless you don’t like wine.

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Once again our eagle-eyed reader John Murden pointed out this bit of news to us. The former dry cleaner next to Outpost on Forest Hill Ave. has applied for a winery license. Work has been going at a steady pace since the plans for Rage RVA fell through. We’ll keep an ear out and update you with more information as it comes out.

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Science Museum of Virginia and RVAir Looking for Volunteers to Check Out Forest Hill Park

Collaborators will take walks through Forest Hill Park or other Richmond neighborhoods to collect data using hand-held AirBeam sensors to test for particulate matter (PM).

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Details snagged from the Science Musuem of Virginia RVAir page.

What Is RVAir?

The Museum’s current community science project is studying air quality in Richmond neighborhoods and we need you! We need individuals and community partners to help us measure local concentrations of airborne pollution known as particulate matter (PM), a mixture of microscopic particles in the air that has been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Why Is This needed?

According to our project partners at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Richmond region experienced zero unhealthy ozone air quality days for the first time since monitoring began in the 1970s in 2019 (yay!). However, the National Asthma and Allergy Foundation consistently ranks Richmond as the 12th worst city in the U.S. for asthma sufferers. Why might this be?

Air quality ratings for the entire Richmond area are based on data collected that represents the regional “airshed.” We know from studies in other cities that local changes in the environment such as wide streets, traffic volume, close proximity to interstates and the number of trees lining streets can significantly change the amount of pollution in the air we breathe at the hyper-local level.

By getting local experts (you!) to help us get locally-specific air quality data throughout Richmond, we can help create home-grown solutions to Richmond’s climate resiliency challenge.

How Can I Get Involved?

We need collaborators to join us on walks through Richmond neighborhoods to collect data using hand-held AirBeam sensors to test for particulate matter (PM). By joining us whenever you can, you’ll be helping us collect data that will be directly uploaded to public, open source GIS maps showing local PM concentrations.

Additional Information:

  • Feel free to bring kids! Families are encouraged to participate. Just have one lead adult fill out the form.
  • You must be 18 or older to participate on your own.
  • Routes vary from 2-4 miles and typically take about an hour, but shorter 30-minute options are available.
  • Most route options are on flat, paved surfaces and are wheelchair accessible.
  • Accompaniment is available for anyone who may require assistance.
  • Biking is an option.
  • There are options for remote participation.
  • There’s no cost to participate.
  • Let us know about anything else you may need to ensure this project is accessible and inclusive.

Register Here

Looks like they need 12 folks each day for three different days later this month. They’re also looking for volunteers to hit up Abner Clay Park and the Science Museum of Virginia.

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