About SOLVE Green Team

SOLVE is a non-profit organization that brings together individual volunteers, service and conservation groups, businesses and government agencies in activities to restore our natural spaces and provide educational opportunities to encourage environmental stewardship. This blog highlights SOLVE's educational outreach and stewardship program, Green Team. We work with elementary, middle and high school science classes throughout the Portland Metro area to engage students in restoration work at stream sites near their schools. Through this environmental service learning program, students have a heightened awareness of their impact on the world around them and therefore, become stewards of our environment.

An exciting BEGINNING for the end of September

September 29th marked our first time OUTDOORS with Green Team students this year.

Gladstone High School was able to start our year off right by pioneering a new area at Dahl Beach. For those of you that are familiar with the site, we have moved on to the side of the trail across from where we have worked in years past. After playing Riparian Metaphors, students worked hard to tackle large and complex blackberry bushes, as well as bits of English Ivy, Nightshade and Morning Glory. They left feeling accomplished and excited to see the changes that happen in the next few weeks with the work of other schools, as well as the greater impact all of Green Team will make throughout this year.

While most blackberry bush removal simply revealed ground covered in English Ivy, one group of students discovered something equally frightening – a creepy life-side doll head. What an eerie (but funny) find for Gladstone Green Team to jumpstart the spooks of October!

The next day, Portland Lutheran freshman and sophomore biology students were able to get out explore Beaver Creek for the first time this year. Many of the students are seasoned Green Team veterans who found their return to this site exciting and full of memories. The group did a great job clearing large areas of Blackberry and Reed Canary Grass, along with patches Nightshade and Morning Glory. It’s unfortunate that they had to see so many invasives up close, but we are lucky and thankful a great impact in removal was made! It was awesome seeing second year Green Teamers growing in their love and understanding for the outdoors, as well as help new students learn their course. It is always reassuring and fun for us to see students naming native plants, teaching others which to remove, and yearn to see the remains of the impact they made in years past. Students also got the chance to play Riparian Metaphors, study phenology and collect moss for further research in the classroom.

New Faces of Green Team!

Earlier this August we had to say goodbye to our 2013-2014 Jesuit Volunteers, Dane and Becca, who are off adventuring in new and exciting places! Annie and Carl, our summer 2014 Duke Engage Interns, have also returned to their studies in North Carolina (or for Annie, a semester abroad in Italy). On the brightside, today we are introducing the two new faces of SOLVE’s east and west side green teams who have been working this month to get the programs together and are excited to meet you all this year. Here’s some info about Ember and Karen, our new Jesuit Volunteers/AmeriCorps Members:10540909_10202458877049976_5039614009408502935_n

East Side:

My name is Ember and this is my first time living and working outside of the Midwest. I grew up in the large Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois and recently graduated from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin where I majored in Environmental Science with a concentration in Policy Analysis and a minor in Political Science. 

My background in this field stems from broad areas. I studied abroad last summer in Nicaragua, where I worked on a water project helping to restore clean drinking water and fresh water facilities to the people on Ometepe Island. It blew my mind that the largest tropical freshwater island in the world has no access to running or safe water systems, and I was ecstatic to be a part of a motion to get those amenities in place. In my free time I was able to explore the wilderness by combing the beaches of Lake Nicaragua and hiking up volcanoes and into their craters. Back in the United States, I interned for several different environmental non-profits, including the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance and Environment Illinois. At each of those places, I learned the importance of people becoming more aware of their actions and how they affect the world around us. Aside from being a ‘tree hugger,’ I have been a swimmer my entire life, and was able to turn that into my first set of jobs as a lifeguard, swim lessons instructor, and coach for 7 years. Thus, I am really looking to combining my passions of working with children and love for nature while serving with SOLVE’s East Side Green Teams and exploring the Pacific Northwest!

West Side:

Hello!  My name is Karen and I recently graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in environmental studies.  I am originally from Long Island, New York, but I am so happy to have called the west coast “home” for nearly four years now.  This is my first time in the PNW though, and I have been so absolutely amazed by all the beautiful greenery that I have seen non-stop since flying into Portland!

While in college, I studied abroad with the School for Field Studies for two summers, one of which was spent at the Center for Rainforest Studies in Yungaburra, Far North Queensland, Australia, and the other which was spent at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies in Atenas, Costa Rica.  My passions for ecology, environmental justice and sustainability were really set on fire through these experiences, as SFS gave me the opportunity to take my learning outside of the classroom and into the field, giving me plenty of practice with data collection and analysis, lab work, scientific writing and oral presentation.  It is for this reason that I am so excited to be serving with SOLVE as the Westside Green Team Education Specialist, because I am looking forward to not only teaching students about the environment in which they live, but also journeying with them into that environment and seeing them truly transform into stewards for the earth.  I am looking forward to an amazing year, both with SOLVE and with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest!    

Pacific University Pharmacy School at Council Creek

Last Friday, the pharmacy school from Pacific University helped out at Council Creek as part of their big outdoor volunteer day!

The pharmacy school volunteers were excited about the activity and arrived ready to work. In the short few hours they were there, the group worked extremely hard, even in the hot sun.

The volunteers assisted the SOLVE team with coffee bagging and mulching our native plants. The group did a fantastic job – they ended up covering over 70 plants!

Thanks for all of your help!

Written by Annie Maass, DukeEngage volunteer

Parrot Creek at Phillips Creek

This week, Parrot Creek got to try something new while they were out at Phillips Creek. The group tried their hand at bio-engineering by planting live Dogwood stakes near the bank of the creek.

Some of the volunteers helped to dig a trench for the stakes while the others helped to trim and collect Dogwood trimmings to plant back into the soil. The volunteers had a lot of fun doing a new activity. They are excited to come back in the future and see how the plants will grow!

Thanks for all of your help! We look forward to seeing you next week!

Written by Annie Maass, DukeEngage volunteer

Fun at Phillips Creek

Last Wednesday, a Methodist group volunteered at Phillips Creek and helped remove many invasive species. The group worked extremely hard and cleared out a large area that had previously been dominated by Himalayan Blackberry.

The group was still eager to work so they moved on to another large patch of blackberry and helped remove a large chunk.

Thanks for all of your help!

Written by Annie Maass, DukeEngage volunteer

Parrot Creek Returns to Troge

This week, Parrot Creek returned to Troge to help restore some of the area next to the creek. The volunteers removed a lot of invasive blackberry and dug out their roots to clear the ground.

Parrot Creek also got to try something new today by spreading straw bales around the ground they had cleared. The group seemed to have a lot of fun with this, for it was something they had not yet tried.

The volunteers also had a nice treat at the end when they found a tall blackberry bush filled with delicious blackberries. Thanks for all of your help, Parrot Creek!

Written by Annie Maass, DukeEngage volunteer

Centro Comes to Council Creek

Last Thursday, a group of Centro Cultural students came out to Council Creek to help mulch the native plants and remove invasives from the area. They also learned a lot about macro-invertebrates and got to see a few of them up close!

Although the volunteers were very young, they were very helpful in tackling the invasive Reed Canary Grass. The students were all very excited to help restore the area and make it as beautiful as possible.

After reading The Lorax to the students, they were even more excited to help the native plants. They did not want the native plants in Council Creek to become like the Truffula trees from the book.

Thanks for all of your help, Centro!

Written by Annie Maass, DukeEngage Volunteer

Warner Pacific at Dahl Beach

A very enthusiastic group of about 20 teenagers came out to help remove invasives at Dahl beach. After a long morning working in the heavy rain it was really great to have a group so energetic and ready to work. Teams of about three tackled huge piles of blackberry. Some stems seemed to be about 2 to 3 inches in circumference and long enough to cling onto branches 20 feet in the air. I was very impressed by the work ethic of the group and their team working skills to move large branches covered in invasive. A lot of good work was done thanks to Warner Pacific! Thanks Guys!

Written by Duke Engage Volunteer Carl Heinz

Rainy Days at Mt. Scott Creek

This past Wednesday, we had a Methodist group volunteer at Mt. Scott Creek. Unfortunately, Wednesday was a chilly day filled with lots and lots of rain. But our volunteers didn’t mind. They were happy to be outdoors and didn’t mind getting a little muddy during their time at the creek.

While volunteering, the group assisted in mulching the many native plants and removing the invasives that were starting to take over the area. Everyone was excited to tackle the project they were working on.

A big thank-you goes out to this group for rocking it in the rain!

Written by Annie Maass, DukeEngage Volunteer

Parrot Creek at Dahl Beach

Once again, the Solve GreenTeam had the pleasure of working with the young men from Parrot Creek. There were a few familiar faces mixed in with the rest, who had not yet been out to Dahl beach. We reviewed our lecture on watersheds, healthy river ecosystems and native vs. invasive plant species. We sent the group out into the field to tackle the stew of invasive species. A few working on blackberry, others ripping the morning glory off the trees. At the end of the day a lot of space was cleared and vines that had been strangling the natives were lying in a heap, strangling each other. It is always a pleasure to work with the young men of Parrot Creek.

Written By Duke Engage Volunteer Carl Heinz