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.

McDonald Jacobs Triumphs over Troge

On July 18th, SOLVE had a group of volunteers from McDonald Jacobs assist at Troge. The group was excited to be there and help out with removing invasive species and mulching the native plants.

While at Troge, the volunteers removed a large amount of invasive blackberry and successfully removed many of the other invasive plants that were taking over the native species.

Green Team really enjoyed working with McDonald Jacobs. Thanks for your help!

Written by Annie Maass, DukeEngage Volunteer

OES Whitford at Council Creek

The sun was shining and the mulch pile was steaming. A large group of tiny youngsters were ready to have fun outdoors and explore Council Creek. The youngsters were buzzing from station to station bringing their fresh energy anywhere they went. We read the lorax, mulched trees, removed reed canary grass and learned about macro invertebrates. There was a lot of fun, a little bit of work and hopefully a good amount of knowledge soaked up by these little guys and gals. Work is not fun for a kid but applying learning in an interactive way can be. The outdoors treated us to a very energetic and active morning at Council Creek.

Written by Duke Engage Volunteer Carl Heinz

Parrot Creek at Troge

On July 17th, Parrot Creek Ranch helped to remove invasive plants as well as helped to mulch and water several native plants.

The group was split in to two groups, so everyone could have a chance to participate in each activity. The volunteers from Parrot Creek worked diligently to make sure each plant was watered and mulched efficiently.

Thanks for all of your help!

Written by Annie Maass, DukeEngage Volunteer

Speedy day at Johnson Creek

This morning the Solve green team paired up with a United Methodist Church from Salt Lake City, Utah to lay much, remove invasives and plant natives. We arrived at Johnson creek, behind the stone bridge apartment complex, anticipating a relatively small group of volunteers. Two big white vans pulled into the parking lot and about 15 volunteers hopped out. Immediately I though we had too little work. Our plan was to mulch but it looked as though the day had bigger plans. We divided the group into thirds: a group filling buckets with mulch, a mulching group and an invasive species team. After briefing the volunteers on the work we would be doing and its importance for our riparian ecosystems we let them loose. Within an hour the whole site had been mulched and the attention was focused on invasives. Morning glory, English ivy and Himalayan blackberry were targeted and eradicated. Holes were dug, Dane arrived and the planting began. When the volunteers left I looked around and could do nothing but smile at the power of volunteers. When people come together, things get done.
Written by DukeEngage  volunteer Carl Heinz

Parrot Creek Ranch Takes on Dahl Beach

This past Tuesday, Parrot Creek Ranch came out to Dahl Beach to help remove a lot of the invasive blackberry that has taken over the ground. Before we got started, we went over why watershed restoration is important, including why native plant species are good and why the invasive ones must be removed.

Fortunately, the weather was nice for us during the morning with the sun in the sky and not a cloud in sight. Everyone worked hard to cut out the blackberry and shovel the roots so it would not grow back.

We enjoyed working with Parrot Creek and we look forward to seeing them again!

Written by Annie Maass, DukeEngage volunteer


DukeEngage Summer Volunteer Annie Maass

DukeEngage is an immersive service experience that sends over 400 students to both international and domestic locations every summer. Students participate in civic engagement activities of many different varieties. Each student in the Portland program is matched with a community partner who embodies environmentalism and sustainability efforts. If you are interested in reading a little more about what we are up to in Portland, follow this link: http://dukeengageportland2014.weebly.com/

Hello! My name is Annie Maass and I am extremely excited to be working here at SOLVE with Green Team this summer! At Duke, I am a rising junior majoring in Public Policy with a minor in Environmental Science and Policy. I hope to someday attend law school after working more with domestic environmental policy.

Aside from my studies, I am a member of various organizations. I am a member of the Duke Women’s Club Lacrosse Team. I have played lacrosse for nine years and I love having the opportunity to be part of a team sport in college. My freshman year, I represented my dorm as an Eco-Rep, an environmental initiative to help make Duke’s campus “green.” I specifically worked to improve recycling on the freshman campus, including raising awareness on recyclable materials.

The Eco-Rep program really opened my eyes to the environmental cause. Although there are large numbers of sustainability efforts at Duke, there is still so much that can be done. This is also true for other areas throughout the country. I became extremely involved with this program, and from then on, I knew I wanted to continue my environmental efforts.

I arrived in Portland wanting to further my own understanding of sustainability and what it actually means in such a large and enthusiastic community. I have lived in a small suburb about 40 minutes from New York City for my entire life, so I was excited to come to the Northwest and view the environment from an alternate perspective. Everyone in Portland is extremely friendly and dedicated to the environmental cause.

In the past week at SOLVE, I have already gained an immense amount of knowledge. I can already identify many native plants species, as well as identify the invasive ones that we remove as part of our restoration projects! I am still learning, but it becomes easier with each passing day. I am excited to learn more throughout the summer, and I look forward to spending time with Green Team and the wonderful staff here at SOLVE!

Duke Engage Summer Volunteer Carl Heinz

My name is Carl. I’m a junior at Duke University studying Earth and Ocean Science. When I was in middle school I remember becoming overwhelmed with joy as the next episode of “Planet Earth” approached. This TV series brought the beauty of the outdoors into my house in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. From that moment on I knew that I had to see the world and fight to protect all inhabitants of this majestic planet. I worked a summer doing prairieland restoration and I learned about the importance of invasive species removal to increase biodiversity and habitat for native species. When I went to college I stuffed my schedule full of environmental courses and soon found myself overwhelmed with the amount of policy/debate involved with this field of study. I decided to shift my focus to a field of study more focused on the actual science, earth and ocean science. Learning about geomorphology and geology I soon found out how earth processes affect our ecosystems. That is where I have come full circle. I have realized that much of our landscapes change due to unhealthy ecosystems and human development. We compact our soil, pave the earth with asphalt and divert streams to meet human needs, all the while increasing erosion and pollution of our most valuable resource, the land. Restoration ecology bypasses policy and says, “We will fight with actions and not words”. Restoration ecologists go out into the world and make an immediate impact.

Duke engage is a program that sends students across the globe with hopes of opening student’s minds to a magnitude of different cultural issues. I decided to apply to the Portland program because of its emphasis on the environment and sustainability. When I was placed with SOLVE I was excited to work with a group focused on building community around restoration ecology. I was excited to get to utilize the knowledge I had obtained at Duke and to also learn about ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest.

 I am very grateful to have this opportunity and I would like to thank Duke University and SOLVE for their faith in me. Your support has inspired me to pay it forward and someday my gratitude will come full circle in one way or another.

Hobbies: painting, drawing, basketball, photography, cooking/eating, gardening, hiking, live music, track and field, and general exploration/adventure/travel.

Watershed Restoration: Fun for all Ages

Friday morning was busy for Green Team at Valley Catholic High School! We spoke to the group about watershed restoration and why it is important. They became educated about the dangers of invasive plants and why they must be removed and replaced by healthy, native plants.

After talking with the group, we went out to remove a lot of the invasive blackberry bushes residing among the trees. We also pointed out several varieties of native plants and identified them for the Green Team.

Our volunteers helped to cut the blackberry and remove its roots so it wouldn’t return. A couple of members of the Green Team were still in elementary school! It was great to see such young students getting involved in the restoration process.

In just a few short hours, the group managed to remove a great deal of blackberry from the area. Luckily, there are many people who are willing to keep our environment clean and assist in restoring our watershed.

Written by Annie Maass, DukeEngage Volunteer

happy healthy watershed tears

Last Friday morning the Green Team took a group of excited youngsters into the field to learn about watershed restoration and invasive species identification and removal. When the kids arrived at Valley Catholic High School we gathered under a shelter and talked about what makes a watershed healthy. The kids, ranging in ages from 5-13, were eager to share their love and knowledge of our environment. Without being prompted the first words of the 5 year old were, “I care about the environment.” All the adults laughed and smiled at such beautiful innocence and love for life. After teaching the kids how to identify invasive blackberry we allowed them to choose their weapon of choice…a shovel or a pair of loppers. We put on our gloves and suited up to fight our enemy, but there was a problem. Our little 5 year old couldn’t find a pair of gloves that fit. After a short period of tears we were able to convince her that she could be the expert in blackberry identification and that she could play just as large a role in removing invasives as any one of the other children. I helped her use a shovel to remove the deep roots of the blackberry, allowing my weight to do the work and helping the 5 year old feel like she was stronger than she had been in her whole life, as she put one pink little boot on the spade. After much smiling, laughter and excitement of the progress we had made, the rain drove us back under the shelter. We decided to call it a day. As the children skipped off to their cars, the 5 year old’s tears were being washed away into our hopefully healthier watershed.\


Carl Heinz

Duke Engage Volunteer 2014

Green Team East Side Summit a Success!

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On May 16th, nine of our Green Team Schools on the East Side of Portland came together for the East Side Summit.  Each school gave a 10 minute presentation by students on an aspect of stream restoration and ecology.  Students presented on topics such as birds species found on the Clackamas River by West Linn HS, macroinvertebrate surveys by Gladstone HS, beaver activity in a restored wetland by Rex Putnam HS, stream mapping on Beaver Creek by Portland Lutheran School, litter art by Gladstone HS, vegetation monitoring by Sam Barlow, a salmon toss by Clackamas HS and tools used in restoration by Sabin-Schellenberg.  In addition Spring Mountain Elementary made a video of their time at Mt. Scott Creek. 

We also got to hear from Jenny Dezso of the Clackamas River Basin Council gave a keynote speech on volunteerism and how it has shaped her career path.  Thanks to Jenny for sharing her story!

 All and all around 100 people were in attendance to hear great and informative presentations- great job to all who participated!  Thank you also goes out to Sesame Donuts and Noodles and Co for donating breakfast and lunch!  A big thank you to all who attended and also to our funders and partners who made this year in Green Team possible!  I am so proud of all the students who I have worked with this year- you are inspiring and we hope to see you next year out with Green Team!