Madelyn Hair, '20, and Mason Manley, '23

December 17, 2020
Bonner Scholars find ways to support the James River Association virtually

Community engagement is challenging in a global pandemic when travel and in-person connection are restricted.

Two Bonner Scholars, Madelyn Hair, ’20, and Mason Manley, ’23, found ways to support the James River Association (JRA) virtually.

"I have been working with their water quality data, which has been collected from various sites around the James River watershed by staff and citizen volunteers since 2013," said Hair, a biology major.

JRA’s staff scientist and Hair’s supervisor shared, "Maddie has jumped head first into the world of long term data management and database structure, working with our science team on validation, analysis, and visualization of data from our citizen science water quality monitoring program, James River Watch."

Manley, an environmental studies major and now in his second semester working with the organization, juggled a number of projects with mentorship from JRA community conservation manager Justin Doyle.

"Mason's first year with the James River Association was productive despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic," Doyle said. "Mason was able to support us in numerous ways while working remotely from his home in the United Kingdom and on campus at the University of Richmond. He conducted research on dams, compiled data on combined sewer systems, created a video about the Gambles Mill Eco-Corridor project at the University of Richmond, and is currently helping us update our Camping on the James webpage."

Hair, Manley, and their fellow 98 Bonner Scholars at UR intern 6-10 hours a week in exchange for financial assistance – and they gain critical skills and knowledge for life and work beyond college.

"I plan to pursue a marine research career, closely integrated with local communities and ecosystem restoration efforts," Hair said. "This internship with the JRA has been sharpening my data management skills that will be crucial in the research I hope to do."

"The protection of our waterways is extremely important to me," Manley said. "I hope that my work at the JRA is just the beginning for me in this area."