“The Wonderful Outdoors!”

Text and photos by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Member Lauren McKenna

St. Matthew’s 8th grade @ Council Creek 12/7/2012

Council Creek in Cornelius has taken a 360° turn, at least since the St. Matthew’s 8th graders were here last year.  The reed canarygrass that once towered over their heads has now been mostly replaced by newly planted native willows, spirea, ninebark and twinberry.

This time, they got to do some more planting of native shrubs that will, in due time, shade out the reed canarygrass.  The students loved getting their hands muddy and giving the plants a new home by the creek!  And at blistering speed, but still doing it well, they put 96 plants into the ground!

Next, they ventured through the creek (ie trudged through a somewhat flowing, ankle deep creek, which still resulted in very wet jeans!) to the other side to the land of big healthy Douglas Spirea and willows.  With great skill, they harvested willow and spirea branches, enough to trim into 30 pole cuttings, or stakes, that they put into the soggy creek.  These stakes will develop roots quickly to stabilize the soil as well as provide shade to reduce invasive reed canarygrass.

The fruits of our labors!  Willow pole cuttings ready to go!

The fruits of our labors! Willow pole cuttings ready to go!

When asked how all this work, planting and staking the willows, helped their community, here is what they said:

“I feel like I am a savior of the environment”   


“even though our contributions here are small,

I’ve still made a difference”


“We are helping our community by being good stewards of our earth and it’s life”


“three words of the day:

willows (I love willow staking!)

nature (I love getting to go into nature!)

lush (I hope that this creek be lush soon!)”


“this helps the community by providing a way

to restore our outdoors/ outdoors experience”

Way to go, St. Matt’s!  Thank you for your hard work and the fun times!  Happy Holidays!

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