Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Charlie
The 8th-graders from St. Matthew’s School in Hillsboro made a trek out to Council Creek this morning to explore, help, and learn from their local watershed.
Students first had the opportunity to explore the macroinvertebrate community living in the creek. Aquatic bugs are a good indication of stream health as some insects we know to be pollution insensitive. The presence or lack thereof of these invertebrates can give us clues to how much the water in Council Creek is polluted. Using a Pollution Tolerance Index to score for the stream’s health based on the richness of orders of invertebrates they found, students discovered that the stream was hovering just above the “poor” rating. Nevertheless we did discover some pretty awesome inverts, such as the scorpion-like damselfly larvae, the shy case making caddisfly larvae, and leeches!
Empowered to help these little guys out and to improve the watershed, students then helped maintain some of the native plants their classmates had planted earlier in the year by staking biodegradable coffee bags around them. This will help suppress aggressive invasive plants like reed canary grass from completely choking them out this summer. While they were busy coffee bagging, we discovered about 50 plants that had been placed out to be planted but overlooked by a previous volunteer group. The St. Matthew’s all-star 8th-graders went above and beyond their call of duty and took it upon themselves to get these plants in the ground.
The students also took some time to reflect on why it is important to be planting these natives and helping them grow, fostering a healthy riparian zone. They played a game in which they were given random every day objects (ice cube tray, coffee filters, etc.)and came up with how those objects are a metaphor for a healthy riparian zone (ice cubes cool our water, like shade in a riparian zone, coffee filters filter out sediment from water, like the plants in a healthy riparian zone, etc).
Thanks for all of your hard work, and we look forward to working with several of you in the future as we found out that many of you will be attending schools in the area who have SOLVE Green Teams like Forest Grove High, Glencoe High, and Valley Catholic!
Thanks to Clean Water Services for funding this project!