Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. This year, instead of grabbing for the paper card and chocolate on the shelf, have you thought about adding a little more ‘green’ to your day? Investing in time together and eco-friendly products not only show that you care about your Valentine, but also your future (or your children’s future) and the environment around you.

This Valentine’s Day, a few of the staff at the James River Association want to share why they love the James and work so hard to protect it.


Ben Watson, Environmental Educator

“I love the James because I love my hometown! I love the hype and the buzz surrounding Richmond these days. I like the renewal and reemphasis on recreation and greenspace. RVA’s up and coming, our reputation is growing, and Richmonders have our renewed civic pride to thank.

I show this pride and love of the James by keeping my Southside stretch of it clean. The River City is a water town, and Water is Life!”


tubinAmber Ellis, Watershed Restoration Manager

“My love for the James River starts from my teenage years when I would often go to Maidens or Watkins Landing after school to swim with my friends. As I’ve grown, my relationship with it has grown as well. A few years ago I convinced a few of my family members to go tubing with me on the James and it has since become an annual tradition. I love the James River for bbaby-stakes-in-snowringing us together for these adventures that always bring laughter and a chance to float together as a family.

I return the love to the James River by restoring the habitat at our property along the Slate River, a tributary of the James, with native plants that support a diversity of wildlife. This past year I’ve planted a variety of native grasses, perennials, trees and shrubs, including this young Sycamore.”

Ben Hawkins, Volunteer Coordinator

“I love the James because my dog loves the James. My best dogfriend, Oz, and I can always find a peaceful rock to relax and watch the sunset. There is never a shortage of perfect fetching-sticks, washed up from the rain and dried out by the sun, light and just right for throwing. I love the James because it is where my dog and I team up as an adventure team.

Whenever I go to the river with Oz, I always bring doggy bags (yes, dog poop does contribute to river pollution). I also bring a trash bag in my pocket to clean up after people too. Even picking up a couple pieces of trash can make a big difference!”

Ready to get planning? Here are a few top recommendations on how to spend Valentine’s Day from James River Association staff:

  • Forget making reservations and paying for an expensive meal, make a romantic dinner at home for your Valentine. Use local ingredients and compost your kitchen scraps!
  • Support the James River Association by purchasing a membership for your Valentine.
  • Ditch the cut flowers, give a native plant instead.
  • If your Valentine is a hard core chocolate lover, go with an eco-friendly brand. Or make your own fudge using fair trade cocoa and sugar.
  • Volunteer with your Valentine for an environmental organization
  • Dine on the James with your Valentine. Pack a picnic and pick a beautiful spot to enjoy the view. Remember to leave no trace and take your trash with you!
  • Instead of buying a gift, set aside some special time to share an experience together. Take a hike, go on a paddle, walk the dog by the river. Plan a romantic weekend getaway at one of the Virginia State Parks in the James River watershed.

However you spend the day, we hope you have a wonderful day with the people most important to you!