Floating Classroom Teaching Students About James River

July 17, 2014

Eight days, 105 miles and a developing a wealth of knowledge; that's the goal of the students on the James River Expedition.

Ten students from around the James River's watershed stopped in Scottsville Thursday, as part of a classroom floating from Lynchburg to Richmond. Each summer the James River Expedition leads three weeklong trips down the river for students to learn the biology, ecology and history of the James.

"We are paddling for a long time. We did 21 miles the other day, so that was pretty intense," said 17-year-old student Sarah Bland.

The group spends the day paddling down the river, stopping to look at the wildlife, or learn about the history of transportation on the James. On Thursday the group traveled by historical batteau to get a better understanding of the cultural significance of the river. Each night they set up camp along the shore.

"We really are getting the full lesson of what the James River has meant, means now, and will mean to the future of the watershed," said student leader Zach Perkins.

As for that future, expedition leaders hope these students will make sure it's a bright one. They want the students to become stewards, caring for the James and its environment.

"What we want to see when students come out of this trip is a love for the James, and find a love to carry on with them and to tell their friends and their families and to use it. It is their river and hopefully they will continue to use it," said expedition leader Kyle Burnette.

Bland says she plans to share the knowledge she's gained on the trip with her friend and family and get them to enjoy the river too.

"Seeing everything around us has totally made me fall in love with Virginia again," said Bland. "The James River has so much to offer and we are learning about it every second of the day and what we can do to make it better and it's wonderful."

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