New Boots and Blackberry Roots

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Members Lauren McKenna and Nicole Poletto

Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School and a few parents came out to Willow Creek this week for the first time of the school year, with sparkly new rain pants and rain boots, ready to be worn and worked in.  Many of the eight grade students were returning to their beloved creek; the sixth graders were seeing the creek for the first time with wide eyes.

The group of students and parents split up into three groups and rotated to different stations.  At the first station, students looked at macroinvertebrates in the creek with their teacher.  Some may have gotten their boots full of water, but it was worth getting to see some water creatures!

Another rotation station was invasive species removal!  The Reed Canary grass had gotten so bad that we could barely find our natives underneath it!  We did however; find a deer antler, which was the source of show and tell for the day.  We spent the morning cutting away at Reed Canary grass and clipping Thistle and Armenian Blackberry canes, trying to tame the jungle of invasives.  In the afternoon, the sun began to smile down as we dug out the roots of the invasive blackberry and giving our natives breathing room.  It was hard work, but by the end of the day the sea of reed canary grass had been transformed to a patch of native oak savannah habitat.

At the last station, students did a Riparian Metaphor game, colored maps of their watershed (the Tualatin River Watershed, that is), did some plant identification and wrote haikus about Willow Creek.  This was also a good to just sit near Willow Creek and ponder our existence… and of course, why we are helping Willow Creek!  Albert Einstein once said that “there are two ways to live: one as though nothing was a miracle, the other as if everything was a miracle.”  Whether or not you believe in miracles, we can see that Willow Creek is a wonderful and important place that we need and that needs our help.  One student wrote a haiku about their experience from the day:

One group of people

In a small ecosystem

Making a big change

Thank you to all the 6th and 8th graders, parents and Mr. Gibson for not only getting a lot of work done, but by being awesome, enthusiastic and ready for the next time!

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