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Renderings: James River Association breaks ground on James A. Buzzard River Education Center

The state-of-the-art facility will serve as a catalyst for river education, environmental awareness, and community connection.

Trevor Dickerson

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Richmond’s riverfront will have a new landmark building that will introduce thousands of students to the James River every year.

The James A. Buzzard River Education Center to be located on Dock Street will serve as a new hub for environmental education, connecting students and the region with the river and advancing the James River Association (JRA)’s vision of a fully healthy river supporting thriving communities.

The new river center will expand JRA’s education program and help reach Virginia’s goal of giving every student three meaningful watershed experiences before they graduate.

Located in Richmond’s East End, the James A. Buzzard River Education Center and the surrounding park will provide greater river access to a part of the community that historically has been underserved. With close proximity to woods, shallow water, the tidal James, and protected waters, the site is strategically positioned to provide quick access to a variety of environmental education and river experiences.

“Our goal is to make sure that every child growing up in what Outside magazine named ‘The
Best Rivertown Ever’ is introduced to the James River and is able to enjoy a lifetime of the
benefits it provides,” said Bill Street, President and CEO of JRA. “Breaking ground on this project is the culmination of more than six years of searching for a site, planning and design. We are thrilled to finally have this project becoming a reality.”

The funding for the project was raised under the umbrella of JRA’s recent $25 million James Changer Campaign, thanks to the very generous contributions from the broader Richmond community. The building is named for James “Jim” A. Buzzard, who was chair of the JRA Board of Directors as well as former president of MeadWestvaco, and made the first commitment to the campaign. After his death in 2021, his wife, Susan Snyder, increased the gift and rallied friends and family to honor Jim’s love of the James and his dedication to JRA’s work.

In 2021, JRA purchased the 0.85 acres for the project from The Conservation Fund, which, in collaboration with The Capital Region Land Conservancy, secured the larger 5-acre parcel along Dock Street. Construction, engineering and design partners for the building and facilities include 3North, Timmons Group and Kjellstrom+Lee. At present, the grand opening of the James A. Buzzard River Education is slated for summer 2024.

To learn more about the James A. Buzzard River Education Center and the James Changer Campaign, visit www.jameschanger.org.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.