Green Team West Side Summit!

This years Green Team West Side Summit was a true success! Becca, Nicole and I are incredibly proud of all of our Green Team classes and are very thankful to everyone who donated food to our event including Noodles & Company, Einstein Bagels and Voodoo Donuts.


The event began in the morning at Valley Catholic High School and around 250 students were in attendance. After a quick snack, students took their seats in the auditorium and the presentations began.  First, Lori Hennings, a senior natural resource scientist Metro, gave an inspiring speech connecting students work on Green Team to the environmental as a whole. We are all so grateful to have had her as the keynote presenter. Then, each school presented on a different aspect of the Green Team year that they found important and explored an aspect of stream restoration in depth.

City View Charter talked about the native birds of Council Creek and even played the bird calls so that we could hear what they sound like.  Valley Catholic High School students talked in depth about macro invertebrate surveys and mulching. Forest Grove High School and Aloha High School both performed inspiring skits about the ensuing drama between invasive and native plants at Gales Creek and Butternut Creek. Glencoe High School presented about the evolving state of McKay Creek. Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School presented on William Greer’s bee box project at Willow Creek and showed pictures of how Willow Creek has evolved due to the continued efforts of Green Team. Finally, we showed a video of Tobias Elementary schooler students singing “The Eight Days of SOLVE” and Forest Park Elementary School’s video titled “How to Plant”.   Both video can be viewed on the SOLVE Green Team website.

Overall, the event was informative for all in attendance and the day was rounded out with more snacks and lunch! I am so proud of each and every one of my students and was overwhelmed with the amount of positive feedback that came my way during the presentation.

Great job this year West Side schools, I will truly miss working with you all!


Dane Breslin

MULCH- a native plant’s best friend

Green Team February 17th-21st

Written By Jesuit Americorps Volunteers: Dane Breslin & Becca Strohm

Clackamas High School @ Rock Creek Troge- Feb 21st

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Clackamas High School students made their first trip of the year out to Rock Creek this week.  Students participated in a variety of activities throughout the day.  First students made willow and dogwood stakes from harvested trees.  They created bundles which would be installed into a small trench along the side of Rock Creek.  The bundles were secured with the 40 stakes students made.  Hopefully these stakes will take root, holding onto the soil, preventing more erosion and also providing shade once they grow tall.  Students also installed beaver caging to some of our newly planted trees.  Beaver are present at Rock Creek which is wonderful but they also like to take our small seedlings so students made cages around 15 Alder, Willow and Cedar trees.  Finally students also removed some invasive blackberry to make room for more native plants.  Thanks for all the work Clackamas students.  We’ll see you next time at Rock Creek.


Aloha High School At Butternut Creek

Wed. February 12th & 13th

This Wednesday and Thursday, Aloha High School came out to Butternut Creek behind their school and did some incredible work with Green Team.  Each class started with planting as there are numerous plants we need to get in the ground before the end of April.  Next, we had to move the mulch pile off the sidewalk which took considerable strength and then spread the mulch in a circle around the base of each native plant. This mulch will help keep the plant warm and moist, as well as help prevent weeds from taking over. While all of this activity was occurring, another group constructed beaver cages to keep the rather active beavers from taking down the brand new plants. Overall, the group planted thirty native plants, mulched fifty plants, and installed twenty five beaver cages! Awesome job Aloha- this was the best of time!

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Tobias Elementary at Beaverton Creek Tributary

Fri. February 14th

This Friday, Tobias Elementary came out to the small tributary by their school and planted forty native plants as well as did macro invertebrate surveys with Nicole.   Long nets were used to gather macros from the stream and plastic magnify glasses gave students a closer look at our local bug life.  Then, students would learn to the simple steps to successful planting with me. Overall, we planted forty plants and were witness to some incredible critters in the stream. Thank you for being such wonderful students Tobias and for having excellent behavior!

A little salmon, plant dancing and stinky bob- just another week for Green Team!

Green Team November 11th to 16th

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteers Dane Breslin and Becca Strohm

East Side Sites

Clackamas High School @ Rock Creek Troge 2 November 13th

Clackamas High School students in Mr. Gwin’s class made their first trip out to Rock Creek this week.  Students began the day by playing the ever-run game Riparian Metaphors!  Comparing common household objects with different aspects of a healthy bank-side helped everyone to remember the goals for Rock Creek.  Some examples were an ice-cube tray representing cold water which provides habitat for fish species and  a camouflage t shirt representing native trees and shrubs that could provide habitat and cover for native animal species.  After the game students got to work cutting down invasive Armenian blackberry and removing its canes.  By the end of the day we could see the stream through some of the blackberry that used to block our view!  Great job Clackamas students!

Gladstone High School @ Rinearson Creek November 14th Last Day Celebration!

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Gladstone students spent their last day at Rinearson Creek learning plant i.d and planting native plants.  Before planting began students learned the benefits of native plants and trees in comparison to the invasive plants we have removed.  Native plants provide food and habitat for native wildlife, help to hold the soil, preventing erosion on stream banks and can filter out toxins that may be flowing into a stream through run-off.  Next students i.d skills were homed as they learned all the native plants they would be planting, including Snowberry, Western Red Cedar, Dogwood, WIllow and Nine Bark.  Sixty-six shrubs and trees were planted!  Great job Gladstone!  For an end of the year celebration students enjoyed Krispy Kreme doughnuts on their walk back to school.  Thanks for everything you’ve done on the new site this year Gladstone- it’s looking great because of you!

Clackamas Middle College @ Phillips Creek November 15th

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Clackamas Middle College students went out to Phillips Creek this week to do some native planting.  Before beginning students learned about plant I.D in order to tell our native species apart as they planted.  For instance there are different lateral bud patterns that can help you determine what a tree or shrub is; opposite, alternative or whorled and whether a leaf is simple or compound.  Students planted Red Osier Dogwood, Snowberry, Rose, Twinberry and also planted some trees including Red Alder, Big-leafed Maple, Western Red Cedar and Douglass Fir.  All and all students planted about 100 shrubs and trees- thanks for all your hard work Clackamas Middle College!

West Linn Salmon Toss @ Clackamas River November 16th

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West Linn High School students braved the elements on a blistery Saturday morning to participate in a salmon toss.  Jeff Fulop from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife provided the fish from a local hatchery.  Students threw about 350 fish into the Oak Grove section of the Clackamas River to help restore nutrients to the river and surrounding bank side.  Everyone also got to perform a dissection of a salmon and identify the different organs of a fish and what they do.  Thanks for your dedication to restoring our local waterways West Linn students!


Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School
Wednesday 11/13/13
Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School planted around sixty native Willow, Twin Berry and Douglas Spirea plants this Wednesday at Willow Creek.  The mud was deep and we might have lost a couple boots, but we got the plants into the soil!
Students also removed invasive Armenian Blackberry, thistle and Morning Glory from the path and monitored native plants. SOLVE aims to have 80% of the plants at each site be native. I will be interested in seeing what Rachel Carson students discover in the coming months about native plant levels in the Willow Creek area.
Thank you for your wonderful work Rachel Carson!

Thursday & Friday   11/14/13- 11/15/13

Aloha High School at Butternut Creek

This Thursday and Friday Aloha High School worked at Butternut Creek planting at total of 80 native plants!  The classes started off the day learning plant identification and ethnobotany. Then, a lesson was given on how to actually successfully plant.

Here’s the rundown:

1) Dig basketball sized hole.

2) Massage roots and remove most of potting soil (this wakes up the plant and helps it to grow into the surrounding soil rather than just in the shape of the pot).

3) Backfill if hole is too deep, and then place plant in hole.

4) Fill in the hole with soil.

5) Plant Dance! Walk around the plant in a small circle to compact the ground. If there is still an area where water can pool, fill it in so that the plant does not drown.

6) Tie on a small pink flag- we don’t want to forget where we planted!

Overall, Aloha and I had a really great time, and I always have fun connecting with this set of students. The detail squad was on top of their game again and was busy getting some interestingly named Willows into the ground.

Thank you Aloha, I always enjoy spending time outside with you all!

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Forest Park Elementary School at Cedar Mill Creek

This Thursday Forest Park Elementary came out to Cedar Mill Creek to remove invasive Armenian Blackberry and “stinky bob”.  Our youngest member was four years of age- but she was an expert on stinky bob removal regardless.  Everyone in the class was able to stay behind me while we walked down and so everyone got the opportunity to use a real shovel.

It was a blast! Great job following instructions Forest Park!

SOLVE Westside Student Summit … a Green Team Celebration!

Text and photos by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest AmeriCorps member Lauren McKenna and SOLVE staff Briana Goodwin

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Last week at Valley Catholic High School, SOLVE celebrated another successful — and fun! — year with the Westside Green Team students at the 3rd Annual SOLVE Westside Student Summit, with videos, photos,, powerpoints, reflections, poetry and song!

To kick off the Summit, keynote speaker Rob Emanuel, from Clean Water Services, addressed the students with advice on following your interests, getting involved in things like SOLVE and experiencing opportunities related to natural resources and environmental science.  What you are doing now can be important for you future career!  Follow your passions!

Student Litter Art: from trash to treasure!

Student Litter Art: from trash to treasure!

Kris Taylor, stand-in Green Team Program Coordinator, and Lauren McKenna, Westside Green Team leader, introduced each of the presenting student groups from six schools in Beaverton, Hillsboro and Forest Grove.  They presented on various topic related to watershed health, stream restoration and things they learned during their year at a SOLVE Green Team site:

Valley Catholic High School (Beaverton): Environmental Science students presented on how much carbon is sequestered by the trees at their Johnson Creek site —

City View Charter School (Hillsboro): As their very first year part of Green Team, they presented on the restoration they have done at Council Creek and their favorite things they learned.

Aloha High School:  Two AP Environmnetal Science students talked about beavers at Butternut Creek.

Forest Grove High School: PCC dual-credit class talked about restoring Gales Creek and sang an original song, “Wetland Success” to the tune of a Lady Gaga song!

Glencoe High School (Hillsboro): Students made a video-photo slideshow of the progress of their McKay Creek restoration efforts.

Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School (Beaverton): One student shared reflection of his three years at Willow Creek, another on pesticides found in Willow Creek, and a third read her original poem (see below)

“As the River Flows” by Elise Kuechle

As the river flows , the salmon swims

against the current.

As the salmon swims, an insect

skims the surface.

As the insect skims, the birds

chatter to one another.

As the birds chatter, the lichen

slowly grows.

As the lichen grows, the spider

weaves her web.

As the deer watches, the sun

climbs the sky.

As the rain falls, the children

begin their work.

As the children work, the river

flows over the dappled rocks.

As the river flows, the world

begins to breath.


Rain pours from a rip in the sky.

Mud is the glue that holds us together.

Rachel Carson students, including the SOLVE Student of the Year Peyton (on Left) enjoying the refreshments!

Rachel Carson students, including the SOLVE Student of the Year Peyton (on Left) enjoying the refreshments!

We also awarded Rachel Carson eighth grader, Peyton Tierney, as our westside SOLVE Student of the Year for her positive attitude while at her Green Team site and her going above and beyond in researching pesticides in Willow Creek (which she has bees asked to continue research on!).  Congrats… you have been a great part of Green Team!

Students, teachers and attendees also wrote down comments about how they help and what they love about the environment:

“Sing from your heart.

Step back and see the mountain move.”

One generation plants the trees

another gets the shade.”

“Nature plays a big role in our lives, never take it for granted.” – Mercedes

“Plants grow in the same way we grow:

with love and nurturing!” – Brian

“You know it’s been a good day when you’re covered in mud.” – Tyler

“Always remember… Boots are your friends!” – Eli

Thank you to:

all our amazing Green Team teachers and students!  You have not only learned a lot, have been very dedicated and have helped restore our watershed, but have inspired many and SOLVE has had fun getting to know you!

SOLVE staff who helped make this a great celebration! Especially Kris Taylor, Meghan Ballard and our Eastside Green Team leader Nicole Poletto.

Rob Emanuel and Clean Water Services: for your support  and  guidance!

Sesame Donuts, Starbucks Coffee, Einstein Bros Bagels,   and Boyds Coffee Company for donations of fun and smiles.

Power Planting 101

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Member Lauren McKenna

Holodiscu discolor, Rhamnus purshiana, Pinus ponderosa, Spiraea douglasii…. yep, it’s native-tree-and-shrub-planting time!!!

Aloha High School students may not have been as lucky with the weather (it was raining cats and dogs, or Felis catus and Canis lupus familiaris, to say the least), but they did get to plant some super special native trees and shrubs.  On their list were some Black hawthorn, Douglas spirea, Pacific Ninebark and Cascara.

OCEANSPRAY (Holodiscus discolor)…ah, the shades of fall!

Working in pairs, they finished planting over 50 plants in one class period!  Now that that rain has come and they can actually see Butternut Creek, it’s exciting to know that these plants with be helping the creek by providing shade, wildlife habitat, solid creek banks and filtering out runoff before it gets to it.

Thank you to Ms. Trakselis and her class.  You all rock at power planting!

Aloha October, Adios Thistle

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Aloha High School @ Butternut Creek 10/03/2012. 

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Members Lauren McKenna.

Last week, Aloha High School seniors meet Butternut Creek: a creek full of potential, yet overrun by invasives and underfed by this recent drought.  When the students in Ms.  Trakselis class arrived, they found thistle, Reed Canary grass, and Armenian blackberry totally choking the native plants that are trying to grow here.

The amount of thistle absolutely coating everything from the thistle plants themselves to all of the native plants.  One student said, “Hey! look at all that cotton everywhere.”  One way to prevent thistle from spreading is to cut off the seed heads from the plant and bag them, as well as collect as much fluffy “thistledown” seeds and bag them, too.

Thistle seeds (aka thistledown) are soft and fluffy looking, but they spread like crazy and grown into horrid spiky plants that crowd out native plants.

Some of students were cutting away at Reed Canary grass, which had grown up and around native shrubs like Ninebark, Douglas spirea and Douglas firs.  Some others bagged thistle and a few cut down and dug up blackberry.  A couple had the job of scaring the girls by showing them spiders near the creek!  There was also a pretty large invasive Horse-chestnut tree right in the middle.  Usually, we are only planting trees, not cutting them down, but a few boys were pretty stoked when asked if they could please chop down a tree!

Overall, a lot of work was done, especially to cut back on the growth of the invasive plants that had happened over the summer and, hopefully, a good time in the good weather.  Thank you Aloha and Ms. Trakselis for your hard work and laughter!

How to Shade Reed canary grass when the Solar Eclipse is Over

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest Member, Gina Graziano

Well, the solar eclipse came and went but not quite long enough to shade out the Reed canary grass at Butternut Creek unfortunately. Students know well that Reed canary grass’  arch nemesis is shade so answering my question, “how do we get rid of Reed canary grass” with “the solar eclipse!” wasn’t too out of this universe, figuratively that is.

So we started to think a little more realistically about the ways we could defeat this invasive, allergy-inducing menace and realized coffee bags and mulch might be the perfect solution! Coffee bags, made from a grass called jute, will suppress the growth of Reed canary grass just next to a native tree or shrub and will eventually biodegrade. Mulch will help our native tree or shrub retain moisture in the warm, summer months and will also do quite a lot to suppress weeds!

So off we went, securing coffee bags into the ground with biodegradable stakes. Our plants look a lot better already.

Thanks so much, Aloha, for all of your incredible work at Butternut Creek this year. You persevered through some tough days of frozen plants on a frosty December morning to high peak allergies on a warm, May day. Your work will be long-lasting and make a difference for the entire watershed.

Thank you, Clean Water Services, for funding this project!

Aloha High School Braves the Cold

It was a crisp, December morning and winter felt upon us…but that didn’t stop Aloha High School from coming out to restore Butternut Creek!  Students shivered over from their school to our site and we reviewed the concepts of our watershed.  We talked about the monoculture Armenian Blackberry creates and how we plant native trees and shrubs to stabilize our banks and increase biodiversity.

We talked briefly about the work the students have been doing in the swale behind their school and how they are in need of beaver cages to keep their native trees and shrubs safe!  Some students assembled tons of beaver cages while some opted to save our plantings from Armenian Blackberry.  The whole class worked diligently despite the cold and got a lot of work done!

A very chilly Butternut Creek thanks you, Aloha High School!

Aloha High 1, Blackberry 0

And they’re off!  Aloha High School’s AP Environmental Science class got a running start on their first task as a Green Team this morning.  The class showed up bright and early to review watershed basics and begin our elimination of Armenian Blackberry.  Students remembered key components of Riparian Corridors and jumped right into cutting down and digging out Armenian Blackberry.   They surely impressed Meghan and I (Gina) with how much work they were able to get done within one class period!!

On a side note: It turns out that educating fellow classmates about the true origins of Armenian Blackberry (formerly known as Himalayan Blackberry) is a very effective way of impressing each other, as well.

These students brought their A-game today and we are looking forward to future match-ups to try to conquer plants that threaten the survival of our native ones.  This Green Team is definitely one to look out for this season.

Here’s to a successful school year!

Thank you Green Team students, teachers, sponsors and supporters for successful year!