News Articles

Love the Dan River Art Contests - Anti-Litter Campaign

April 8, 2024

Love the Dan River Art Contests - Anti-Litter Campaign

DRBA is announcing the Love the Dan River Art Contests for students in Danville City Public Schools!  Third grade students are invited to participate in a Storm Drain Art Contest.  Three finalists will be selected and one overall winner will be selected to paint a storm drain at a park in Danville.  High school students are also invited to participate in an Anti-Litter Poster Contest.  One high school student's work will be selected to create an anti-litter poster that will be printed and posted in Danville City Schools.  TO LEARN MORE AND DOWNLOAD THE FORMS, CLICK HERE!

Outdoor Learning Space at Snow Creek Elementary

November 21, 2023

Outdoor Learning Space at Snow Creek Elementary

The Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) has installed an outdoor learning space at Snow Creek Elementary in Franklin County that will allow students and teachers to take learning out of the classroom.  The learning space was generously sponsored by the Eco Ambassador Council, a coalition of regional businesses that combine their investment to support environmental protection and preservation opportunities in the Dan River Basin region.

The Snow Creek Outdoor Classroom is an outdoor learning space designed for fourth and fifth grade students and was installed in early fall, nestled near the forest edge, and includes a shelter, picnic tables and native bushes planted by the students.  The space will allow students to practice and apply many of the concepts they are learning in the classroom. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

Dedication of Monarch Waystation at Martinsville High School

October 30, 2023

 Dedication of Monarch Waystation at Martinsville High School

On October 25, 2023, a nationally certified Monarch Butterfly Waystation was dedicated at Martinsville High School in Martinsville, VA. Constructed by the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) and generously funded by Dr. David Jones of Jones & DeShon Orthodontics and Dr. David L. Jones of Roanoke Valley Orthodontics, the Waystation provides a sustainable habitat for butterflies and other pollinators that are critical to all living things.  

“This Waystation is both educational and beautiful,” said Dr. David L. Jones. “I hope that it serves as a reminder to everyone about the importance of conservation and protection of our natural resources.”

Upward Bound and MHC-After3 youth planted all of the pollinator plants as part of community service program through their summer camp.
A certified Monarch Waystation is an intentional garden that has met the criteria for providing food, shelter, and breeding grounds for Monarch butterflies, as well as other pollinators. It must meet several criteria in order to be certified such as size, type of plants and location.
“Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration,” said Krista Hodges, DRBA’s Education Outreach Manager. “Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall.
Milkweeds and nectar sources are declining due to development and the widespread use of herbicides at a rate of over 9 square miles a day - that's 2.2 million acres each year – and equivalent to losing an area of habitat the size of the state of Illinois every sixteen years!”
As pollinators, the monarch butterfly migration across the continent provides an invaluable service, essential for many ecosystems to thrive. It is because of pollinators, such as butterflies, bees, and other insects, that flowers, fruits and vegetables can grow. 
“Having this visual reminder about the importance of pollination and the value of environmental conservation is a wonderful addition to our community,” said Dr. David Jones. “Not only is this garden beautiful to look at, it’s already doing its job in helping to sustain the Monarch Butterfly population as evidenced by the hundreds of caterpillars and butterflies that are here. We are so grateful to be able to work with DRBA to bring this to our City.”
Dr. David Jones and his son, Dr. Jones are also donating an additional $10,000 to support environmental education for students at Martinsville Middle School, Meadow View Elementary School and Patrick Henry Elementary School in 2023. An additional donation will be made in 2024.
Visit to learn more about protecting and conserving our local natural resources and how you can get involved in your community.

Forest School

September 5, 2023

Forest School

Forest School at Philpott Lake
Join the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers at Philpott Lake for an event that is sure to get the family excited about nature. September 23rd is going to be an exciting day at Philpott Lake as we celebrate the US Army Corps of Engineers 70th anniversary at Philpott Lake, along with National Public Lands Day.  To commemorate the day, DRBA has partnered with the rangers at Philpott to present a family-friendly event, Forest School. Forest School will be held on Saturday, September 23rd from 10am - 1pm at the Philpott Lake Visitor Center at 1058 Philpott Dam Road in Bassett.  

“We are looking forward to Forest School, and we are excited that it coincides with National Public Lands Day. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate National Public Lands Day, than coming out and learning all about public lands. We are also excited about having the public here to help Philpott Lake celebrate its 70th anniversary,” said Dillon Brown, Interpretive Park Ranger, Philpott Lake.

This is a free family event which will provide learning opportunities about our natural resources. Educational exhibits and activities will be set up in the grassy area for youth to participate with giveaways. Free meals will be provided to the first 100 youth and their parents.

DRBA's Education Outreach Manager, Krista Hodges, says, "This is going to be a family friendly event that will give children and parents a fun and safe opportunity to learn about nature while also spending time together."

This event is proudly sponsored by the Eco Ambassador Council, local businesses who join together to protect and promote our local natural resources.

DRBA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the Dan River watershed through recreation, education and stewardship. To learn more about the Dan River Basin Association, visit 

DRBA Annual Celebration Awards!

June 7, 2023

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”.
~Author Unknown

Dan River Basin Association is lucky to have such wonderful volunteers, board members, and donors that choose to join in to create the largest impact on the Dan River Basin. This past weekend, DRBA hosted their Annual Celebration with a knowledgeable keynote presentation from Ph.D. Candidate Spencer Tassone, the "Song of the Dan" performed by Angela Upchurch-Davis, and the presentation of the DRBA Service Awards. 

Service to DRBA Awards

This award is given to one or more individuals who stand out as a volunteer during the year with hours and effort.

Jessica Driver

Jessica, an avid hiker, advocate, and naturalist, holding a beautiful print of the river given to her for the award


Our first award winner is Jessica Driver. Jessica has been monitoring a local waterway as a DRBA Citizen Water Quality Monitor since 2015, has recently become our local Virginia Save Our Streams volunteer trainer, started DRBA’s Family Friendly public events, and has participated in and planned several cleanups in the region.

On her own, she frequently does her own cleanups, then upcycles some of the items she finds, sells them, and donates the proceeds toward environmental education supplies. She has created dozens of environmental education videos and programs and you’ll see her face at multiple festivals throughout the region representing DRBA. She is the Secretary of the Board of Directors.

We could go on and on, the list is VERY long of what Jessica has done for DRBA and we’d be here all day if we listed them all – but suffice it to say, Jessica is an amazing volunteer and a DRBA advocate!

Jessica, congratulations on your 2023 Service to DRBA Award.




Valencia Abbott

Valencia Abbot, educator, advocate, and avid hiker, holding a beautiful photo of a local wildflowerValencia Abbott serves on many nonprofit boards throughout North Carolina and one of those organizations is DRBA. She has been an invaluable resource in directing and implementing DRBA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan. On her own time, she applied for and received the Abolitionist Teaching Network grant which allowed funding for organizations to concentrate on an area of special needs. She invited DRBA to be one of those organizations and we were able to hire a consultant with the funding to help us provide enhanced programming and activities for youth and people with hearing and sight impairments which greatly improved our ability to outreach to more people to enjoy and protect our natural resources.  

She also included DRBA in her history project funded by the National Council of History Education in partnership with the Museum and Archives of Rockingham County. DRBA was able to provide thank you bags to the volunteers of the program informing a new audience about what DRBA does in our region. 

Valencia is extremely active -  tossing out a new program idea, sharing a resource, or providing a link to an educational workshop or forum to help DRBA become a more welcoming and inclusive organization frequently.  Not to mention you’ll see Valencia at many of DRBA’s outings. 

Congratulations, Valencia Abbott.


Keith Elliott

Keith, service to DRBA award, is presented a beautiful photo of the river in the fall


A Service to DRBA Award represents outstanding work on behalf of the organization. In the case of this recipient, his work has impacted DRBA on multiple levels – he has become an invaluable resource as a guide on outings, he is a first-call volunteer for anything related to outdoor recreation asset construction and maintenance and he is truly one of the most dependable and hard-working volunteers who’s not afraid to get dirty. 

Keith Elliott joined DRBA’s volunteer army just a few years ago, helping with the construction of the Woodland Trail at Spencer Penn Centre. We had no idea just how amazing this man was at the time. He came back, again and again, to help with other trail-building days and cleanups. Then he joined the CWQM program, along with the Outing Task Force, and offered his time to help plan and guide DRBA’s First Saturday Outings.  

There are so many times DRBA staff and board have reached out to Keith for help.  When the Paw Path needed gravel spread, Keith was there and did the entire project by himself. When mowing and weed whacking was needed to maintain a new park that was constructed in Eden, Keith was there in less than 24 hours doing the work, again on his own. 


Keith is truly a model volunteer. He is dependable, his work is exceptional and he is an exemplary volunteer! It is with pride and gratitude we present Keith Elliott with this Service to DRBA Award.

2023 Volunteer of the Year Award- Sonya Wolen

DRBA’s Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to an individual who goes above and beyond to serve, promote, and actively participate to strengthen the organization. 

Sonya holding the Volunteer of the Year award
This year’s recipient is a long-time supporter of DRBA. She has served as both the Vice President and two years as the President of the Board of Directors and continues to serve as a member of the board. She has voluntarily taken the lead role in implementing DRBA’s DEI Strategic Plan and is co-chair of the DRBA’s Program/DEI Committee.  She is the reason why DRBA has been involved, led, or participated in numerous committees, programs, and activities. She is the first to volunteer to man a booth at a festival, provide an environmental education program and participate in a DRBA workday. She is the reason why DRBA has increased the number of people at our monthly FSOs through her idea to add MeetUp.  She is constantly on the lookout for new program ideas, educational opportunities that will benefit the staff and board, potential partnerships, and volunteers to recruit.  She has worked tirelessly for DRBA for a very long time and the organization and we believe that DRBA would not be as strong and impactful without her on the team. 

 Thank you, Sonya Wolen, for your dedication and trust in DRBA!



Partnership Award- Rockingham County Tourism Development Authority

Rockingham County TDA Manager, Lindsay Pegg, holding partnership award

This award is presented to an organization, municipality, or state organization that has shown dedication to DRBA’s mission through collaboration, participation, and collective action…

The Tourism Development Authority of Rockingham County  - or TDA -- has been a long-time partner with DRBA.  This group of dedicated individuals has provided critical funding to help promote recreation in Rockingham County and has served as a model for other organizations in the region.  

The TDA provided funding to not only keep the Settles Bridge River Access clean and usable for close to a decade but then also invested in fixing the site to make it safe for boaters.  They have created numerous publications and media that promote outdoor recreation and have included DRBA in all of them.  Jacobs Creek Batteau Landing Park and a master plan to connect the Mountains to Sea Trail with the Beaches to Bluegrass State Trail would not have been completed without their generous funding. Their partnership with DRBA has been long-standing and we believe is just getting better.


It is with gratitude and appreciation DRBA awards this Partnership Award to the Tourism Development Authority of Rockingham County, NC. 

Corporate Award

This award is given to one or more businesses or civic organizations that have helped DRBA achieve a project or service that would not have been likely to occur without the resource leveraging of the partnership. 

Pickle & Ash restaurant, located in Patrick Springs, VA, is a very special establishment. They provided funding for two rain barrel workshops that sold out in less than 48 hours each.  They stepped up to not only plan but also donate, the refreshments for the ribbon cutting event at the IC DeHart Trail System in Woolwine, VA. Pickle & Ash is the newest member of the Eco Ambassador Council which funds regional recreational, educational, and stewardship-focused projects.  

Owned by Anna Lester, who is a force for positive environmental change and a model of an environmentally-conscious and proactive business leader. 

We are grateful for the investment in DRBA and look forward to a lasting partnership with Pickle & Ash for years to come!


We are grateful for the impact that the Dan River Basin Association has had in the past year alone, with now over 21 years of service to the Dan River Basin, we look forward to what we can accomplish in the next 21 years! 

Dan River Basin Association would not be what it is today without dedicated volunteers, board members, and donors. Thank you for being a Friend of DRBA! To learn more about volunteering with DRBA, check out our Volunteer section on our website!