Written by SOLVE Duke Engage Student, Emma
Clackamas High School students from the Key club have been working with SOLVE to start a new club at their school – the Clackamas Green Team. A few weeks ago they were introduced to a local site at Rock Creek and the attack on invasive plants began. Last week even more students showed up and we decided to continue our ivy removal efforts further upstream. It was especially exciting for everyone to see the difference we had made already. With the extra hands, we were able to move really quickly until we reached a patch of Stinging Nettle. Stinging Nettle, while not an invasive plant, is not a plant that students look forward to seeing. Its stems and leaves are covered in hollow stinging hairs that inject histamine and other chemicals when touched by humans and other animals. The combination of chemicals then produce a stinging sensation that some of us got to experience firsthand. The Green Team students at Clackamas High School are now able to identify Stinging Nettle, English Ivy, Armenian Blackberry, Trailing Blackberry, Sword Ferns, and Twinberry.
During the last hour of our meeting the students were taught how to catch micro invertebrates in a D-net, how to identify which species they were looking at, and the importance of knowing which micro invertebrates are living in a stream. Certain micro invertebrates are able to thrive in any environment while others do well in only healthy creeks or pollutant heavy creeks. When SOLVE teaches students about healthy streams and rivers during the school year, students spend time catching different samples of micro invertebrates to determine the health of their local streams. Finding a stone fly for example would indicate a very healthy stream. Our goal last Thursday, however, was to catch a few species to add to our sample kit so that students next year will be better able to identify which micro invertebrates they have caught. We broke into teams of four and my team captured three native sculpin minnows, and a handful of other micro invertebrates. Our entire group was able to add a few green rock worms to our sample kit before we decided to call it a day. Thank you to all the Clackamas students who joined us last Thursday with such positive attitudes. The work you’ve done at Rock Creek is really making a difference to the health of the site and for the education of future students.