RICHMOND — The James River Association (JRA) announced it is currently seeking student and teacher applications for its James River Leadership Expeditions (JRLE), a year-long program for high schoolers interested in advocating for the James River.
The program provides students with the opportunity to enjoy a river-based education, build new friendships, develop leadership skills, and carry out a community capstone project, JRA said. It will accept 30 students for the 2023-24 program from across the James River watershed.
The program is broken into four sessions running from July through May 2024. Session one is a week-long, overnight paddle adventure on the James River divided into three excursions covering the Upper, Middle, and Lower James. Students will learn technical skills like how to canoe and camp overnight, as well as access to local culture, history, and environment.
JRA notes students will also experience “a highly unique setting that gives them the chance to build confidence, self-esteem, and relationships with their fellow participants.”
“If I could tell students one thing, it’s that you will never experience something like this again. The James River Association is offering an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. To spend one week on the James River, technology-free, with good company, is something very hard to find. When the opportunity presents itself, take it,” said Nash McDowell, a JRLE alum.
The second session offers an overnight brainstorming event to discuss community capstone projects. The third, a working group complete with games that JRA says tap into personality styles, self-awareness, public speaking, and relationship management. The final session is a leadership launch and environmental symposium for students to present their capstone projects and celebrate their accomplishments.
“Through James River Leadership Expeditions, students learn they are capable of far more than they realize,” said Genevieve Wall, Senior Environmental Educator for JRA. “The experiences and relationships they build throughout the program help provide skills and awareness they will develop and use for years to come. As educators, we are honored to be able to sow seeds of knowledge, understanding, and connection to the James River through this unique and life-changing program. We look forward to welcoming new river stewards of tomorrow to our 2023-24 season.”
The James River Leadership Expeditions receives support from the Luck Companies Foundation Fund. To learn more about JRLE and apply, visit thejamesriver.org/students-of-the-james/james-river-leadership-expeditions/.