Henrico County VA
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Henrico students begin James River journey

Every student in Virginia should have a meaningful watershed experience before graduating, but the James River Association is taking that experience one step further with its second James River Expedition program, said trip leader Gabe Silver.

“Our goal is really to take someone when they’re young and give them an experience that really stands out in their memory, to take someone not necessarily who is going to go into conservation or environmental field, but someone who is going to go far in life and is going to be a leader, and show them how important and core our water resources
are,” he said.

Last year, 12 students and four teachers from Virginia high schools participated in a 28-day canoe trip down the 340-mile James River. This year's trip schedule has been separated into three sections to allow five more schools to participate, including Varina High School and J.R. Tucker High School from Henrico County.

Each trip will be eight days long and students, teachers and JRA officials will be canoeing between 10-24 miles a day, Silver said.

“This is not by any means an easy trip it is a physically challenging trip and intentionally so,” Silver said. “It gets everyone out of their comfort zone.”

The opportunity is sponsored by a $50,000 grant from The Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources.

Varina Biology II teacher Melinda VanDevelder received an email in January from the Henrico County secondary science education specialist, Libby Kitten, about the program and immediately applied.

“A weeklong vacation on the James River, are you kidding, it’s awesome,” VanDevelder said. “If there’s a river, I’m getting in it.”

Students on every leg will stop to talk to experts about history and the ecology of the river and its conservation challenges, Silver said. VanDevelder will be teaching about endocrine disrupters, water testing and fisheries to her group, which travels from Lynchburg to Richmond July 7-14. Students will snorkel to look at the fish before learning about the problems facing their species, she said.

“I’m looking forward to watching them experience the river in a completely different way,” she said. “It’s not every day you get to see clear water, especially in Varina. I’m ready for some light bulb moments.”

Silver said, the trip would help to build leadership skills as students rotate jobs including a trip leader in charge of researching what is coming up the next day, trip scientist in charge of recording GPS coordinates of any potential ecological problems they see along the river, the trip reporter who will take photos and write an article, and the camp leaders who will cook and set up camp.

Most of the students are rising 10th and 11th graders, Silver said. When they return they will put together a project to demonstrate what they learned, said J.R. Tucker Biology teacher Jane Selden, who leaves July 21 for her trip down the last section of the James from Richmond to Hampton.

Students and teachers prepared for the trip the first weekend in June with safety and camp training, Bodary said. Despite being an avid kayaker, Bodary said that for this trip she has had to prepare herself for the length and cooperation involved in the expedition.

“I’ll have to buy a whole new wardrobe, some synthetic shorts, not the usually holey cotton ones I wear,” she said. “I’ll have to be putting on sun block all day. I’ll probably be a crispy little critter. But I think the biggest thing is planning to pack for seven days.”

Seldon said she’d been going to the gym to strengthen her upper body to prepare.

“I’m not a camper, so this is going to be a little new to me,” she said. “I’m really wanted this experience for my students. They’re so excited.”

The first group left June 23 and will return June 30. You can follow its progress on Facebook and at http://jamesriverassociation.org/expedition


Community

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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