Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest Member, Gina Graziano
Valley Catholic High School had been learning about plants and the way they are classified and divided in the classroom. They heard about seed dispersal, the various ways plants produce seeds, and how plants differ from each other. Then, they walked back to Johnson Creek to apply that information to work that would make a huge difference. These students have been constantly using information they learn in the classroom to further understand the concepts and use their knowledge for good out at Johnson Creek this year. We at Valley Catholic believe Spiderman may have been right- with great knowledge comes great responsibility.
And taking responsibility for the health of Johnson Creek is something VCHS students are not afraid to do! We played a guessing game where I described a plant as something that has leaves that are palmately compound, with 5 leaflets, big thorns, produces a flower and a berry.. and before I could say anymore students guessed it! Perhaps you blog readers have guessed it by now too! Yep, Armenian Blackberry. Students said it was an angiosperm and it disperses its seeds through delicious, attractive berries. Animals will eat these berries, defecate them, and the seeds will grow into new plants. While this is a very wonderful, efficient way of dispersing seeds for our native angiosperms, we would rather these Armenian Blackberries not spread all over our site.
We reviewed that these berries will not form until later in the summer and realized our time was very precious! After this realization, we put on some gloves, grabbed a tool, and destroyed the angiosperm known as Armenian/ Himalayan blackberry as fast as possible. We found vines entangled over 15 feet high in Douglas Fir trees, wrapped around native Red Twig Dogwoods, Cottonwoods, and Snow berries. We cut them down and dug them out.
Thank you, Valley Catholic High School, for not just coming out to do the work and heading back into the classroom- but for really caring about the science behind the issues, understanding the problem, and using your knowledge to take responsibility for the health of your watershed. The world will be a better place with your devotion of turning information into positive change and we at SOLVE are so glad to have been witness to that.