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Friends of the
James River Park
  OCTOBER 2017
Ralph White at 2017 River Hero Awards
River Heroes Celebrated

The Friends gathered on October 5th for the 6th Annual Ralph White River Heroes Celebration to honor this year's recipients of River Hero awards! The Ralph White River Heroes is an initiative of the Friends of the James River Park. The award is named for Ralph White who served as the Superintendent of the Park for nearly 33 years prior to retiring in 2012.

This year there were 20 nominations across three categories of River Heroes: Preservation, Education and Promotion. Due to the outstanding nature of the nominations, the esteemed panel of City officials and prior River Heroes determined it was necessary to add a fourth winner this year for a truly outstanding volunteer!

VCU's Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP) and its leader Joey Parent won the River Hero award for Education. Through its work, OAP has significantly expanded its mission to support courses and outreach within the Park. For example, OAP was a key collaborator in developing the "Footprints on the James" course. OAP played a critical role in supporting VCU's partnership with the River Management Society to offer a "River Studies and Leadership Certificate," and this summer OAP helped support the Math Science Summer Investigators "Mapping Biodiversity in River Rock Pools" program for Richmond Public high school sophomores. Further, OAP has directly supported and promoted the park through over 100 volunteer hours annually. Perhaps the greatest way in which the VCU OAP has helped support the park is through capacity building. There are graduates of the OAP leadership program both working and volunteering at the JRPS, True Timber, JROC, Riverside Outfitters, RVA Paddlesports, Richmond MORE, and Richmond Cycling Corps, to name a few. VCU OAP has played an important role in supporting the Park for more than three decades. Under the current leadership of Joey Parent this support has continued to increase.

Attendees at 2017 River Hero Awards
The Ralph White River Hero for Promotion for 2017 is Warren Foster. Warren served on the Board of Friends of the James River Park for many years. He loved the river, spent time on the river, and promoted the river to all who would listen. He made ongoing effort to clean and protect Williams Island and personally developed signage on the island that he belovedly referred to as Warren's Island

In 2009 Warren presented the Board with details of his proposal to develop a James River Park license plate with plans to take the issue to the General Assembly in 2010 for the first of many hurdles. Today, the Friends receives funding annually from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Due to the increasing popularity of the plates, the annual funding continues to grow and currently exceeds $25,000. These funds go toward our organizational efforts to support and maintain the James River Park System

Warren passed away suddenly in July of this year. The award was presented to Warren's wife, June, and daughter, Allison.

The Ralph White River Hero for Preservation was awarded to Laura Greenleaf. Laura saw a problem with invasive plant species in the park and recognized the various partner organizations that were trying to do their part to remove them, but with no clear plan. She championed the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force and was the coordinator of the group when it first formed in 2015. She has recently passed on that position, but the Task Force would not be what it is today without the passion and organization that she brought to helping form this group. She is still active in the Task Force and leads the invasive plant removal and native plant restoration at Pony Pasture with the Riverine Virginia Master Naturalists

Mary Helen at 2017 River Hero Awards
Margaret Maslak was awarded the first-ever Most Outstanding Volunteer in the James River Park System. Margaret is the consummate James River Park volunteer. She's a trailblazer, literally. As a devoted trail builder and trail maintenance JRP volunteer, she usually works a day or so maybe every week, plus dropping by to finish up or just put in a couple of hours. Her trail work includes trimming, rerouting, constructing boardwalks, removing stumps, painting, just about everything. She has probably worked on every trail in the park, and the staff even recognize this fact. She is tenacious and thorough, working until the job at hand is completed, then continuing on to tidy up another section of trail. Her trail-maintenance devotion to the park is unrelenting. She works solo and also with groups such as RVA-MORE, or JROC. She's been an avid James River volunteer for many years.

The Friends also recognized the significant contributions of both Myrna Hartley and Mary Helen Sullivan. Myrna and Mary Helen served on the Board of the Friends of the James River Park with over 15 years of combined service between them. Myrna served as both the Treasurer and on the Membership committee. Mary Helen served on the Finance and Communications Committees. And both could be counted on to volunteer for special events throughout the years. Their contributions are missed! 
Volunteer Event
Join the Friends for its next volunteer event, on October 14 from 9-12 to help the Friends rid the Reedy Creek Bug Garden of weeds and other debris. The clean up will help make the garden more inviting to Park users to observe native plants and insects in their natural setting. Parking is in the Reedy Creek parking lot. Bring water, wear close toed shoes, and clothes you do not mind getting dirty (long pants recommended). There is a water fountain and bathroom on-site. All materials for the project will be provided.There are only 15 spots available so please sign up early if you plan on attending! You can register by clicking on the link below:
goat sign
Goats at Work!

Park staff, through the generous support of the Friends, have deployed 7 goats to munch away at the invasive species threatening to permanently take over the landscape near the Manchester Climbing Wall. There is currently a small herd at work and additional goats will be added soon. The goats are confined to a fenced in location. The Friends hope to continue to include goats as an important part of our work with the Invasive Species Task Force.
Support the Park!

Your green keeps us green! Want to show your support? Visit and choose how:
  • Become a member
  • Make a donation
  • Get a park license plate
  • Buy a T-shirt
  • Contribute to the Preservation & Protection Fund

iNaturalist workshop for park fans | October 14, 9:00 a.m. - noon
Assist iNaturalist Paul Bedell and the JRPS iNaturalist team as they create a living record of life within the James River Park. Paul will introduce you to the iNaturalist website and to the James River Park System Project. Then, you will walk in the park and photograph whatever kind of plant or animal you enjoy. The documented species (digital photographs and sound files) are then added to the iNaturalist website. You don't have to be an expert in photography or identification to join. Beginners are welcomed and encouraged! Location: Reedy Creek Visitors Center.

King of the James | October 22, 8:00 a.m.
King of the James' is an individual, multi-sport event including trail running, mountain biking, and whitewater kayaker. This is an extremely difficult course, with many hazards, and requires stamina as well as in-depth knowledge of all three sports. Registration runs 8:00-8:30 a.m., Race Starts at 9:00 a.m. A donation of $35 to James River Park System required. More information at:
Looking for more events and activities?
There are more and more things happening in the park! The JRPS global calendar is your go-to source to find where and when the events and activities you enjoy are happening. Check the schedule at:
Become a member today 
Our Mission
We are citizen stewards of the James River Park. 
We do this by providing ongoing support for conservation, enhancement, and recreational enjoyment of the James River Park System, while protecting its natural and historic environments.
Friends of James River Park, PO 4453, Richmond, VA 23220
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