Lessons learned on the river

Published 10:14 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A hands-on education is almost always more effective — and always more enjoyable — than having one’s nose stuck in a book.

It’s one thing to read about the storied history, cultural importance and environmental issues revolving around our state’s most iconic river. It’s quite another to take a weeklong paddle down the river, experiencing it firsthand and speaking with business owners, farmers, watermen and others who live near and use the river.

That was what three groups of high school students from the James River watershed did this summer. Collectively, the groups traveled nearly the entire length of the river on an expedition run by the James River Association.


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The third group stopped off in Suffolk on the last night of its trip from Hopewell to Hampton and stayed the night in Eclipse.

The students got a unique perspective from which to learn about the dangers of pollution in the river and efforts of farmers and industries along the river to minimize that pollution.

Merilyn Zinkwich, 15, one of the students who stayed overnight in Eclipse, said the expedition has grown her appreciation for nature.

“We get to experience all the beauty nature provides and how important the river is,” she said.

Then there were other learning experiences unrelated to the river save for the fact they were on the river when they happened — for example, adapting to a week without social media and technology and learning to create bonds with their fellow voyagers and develop leadership skills.

We appreciate the James River Association making this opportunity available for students and congratulate those who made the journey. The things they learned floating down the river will serve them well in their futures.