Partner Profile


Meet Amber Ellis, JRA

Amber Ellis
sycamore tree

Amber’s favorite riparian plant: the sycamore tree


How does your work support healthy streamside ecosystems in the James River watershed?

I have served as the Consortium convener since its launch in 2019 and focus on building partnerships and co-creating solutions to get more riparian forest buffers on the ground. A few programs that I am particularly proud to be a part of and coordinate are …

  1. the James River Buffer Program, which is a partnership program that works with landowners to restore riparian forest buffers on their property at no cost and helps with the first three years of maintenance,
  2. the James River Stewardship Program, which employs seasonal interns to assess older riparian forest buffers and assists with replanting and invasive species management, and
  3. the State Farm Task Force focused on excluding cattle and restoring riparian buffers at a ~4,000 acre Department of Corrections facility along the James River.

What do you love most about your work?

My favorite place to spend time is in a forest along a stream or river. I’m grateful that my work is focused on restoring and stewarding these special ecosystems. I love working alongside such a variety of partners to reach a shared vision together.


What was your journey/career path that led you to the work you do now?

I grew up in Powhatan County, VA in the James River watershed. I went to Virginia Tech where I got a Bachelors of Landscape Architecture. When I graduated I worked for 3 years in the Landscape Architecture department at Timmons Group, a local Architecture and Engineering Firm. I knew I wanted to shift gears and work with others with an overall mission focused on restoration. I volunteered as a Virginia Master Naturalist and then made a big move by leaving my full-time job at Timmons to take a part-time Restoration Intern position with the James River Association in 2010. My work there has taken me from coordinating volunteers, to engaging urban communities in stormwater projects, to now leading our restoration work as Restoration Director with a priority focus on riparian forest buffers. I am a licensed Landscape Architect in Virginia and also have a certificate in Ecotherapy by the Earthbody Institute.


What do you value most about the Consortium? How has it positively impacted your work?

Being able to take on the big challenges of restoring riparian forest buffers with a group of partners that are humble, knowledgeable, and a joy to work with! It has given me the confidence to take on big initiatives because I know we have a great network and support system within the Consortium.

James River Association

About Amber Ellis

Organization: James River Association

Title: Restoration Director