Happy Earth Day!

Spring Mountain Elementary @ Mt. Scott Creek April 22nd

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Happy Earth Day!  Spring Mountain students came out to celebrate Earth Day by looking at macroinvertebrates.  Macroinvertebrates are stream insects that are big enough to see with the naked eye and have no backbone.  They are in their immature phase in the water and eventually becoming flies.  When they are mature as flies they are crucial to the forest as the bottom of the food chain.   Spring Mountain found a ton of different macros including small minnow mayflies, blood-worms, scuds, annelids and snails.  Despite a small hail storm during our outing students were enthusiastic and did a great job identifying the macros.  Thanks Spring Mountain- we’ll see you next time!

Clackamas Middle College @ Phillips Creek April 23rd

Clackamas Middle College students celebrated Earth Day this year by making a difference in their community.  Students spent the day cleaning up litter around their school neighborhood and making it into trash art.  First students learned about litter in the environment.  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a large collection of trash in the Pacific that has gathered due to currents.  About 80% of that trash originated on land; traveling from streets to rivers and eventually to the ocean.  Most of the trash is plastic which breaks down through photo-degradation, becoming smaller and smaller pieces.  These small pieces are a danger to wildlife that can choke on them.  Students at Clackamas Middle College collected 20 lbs of trash around CMC and created two beautiful pieces of art.  Great job CMC students!  Thanks for the creativity!

Gladstone High School @ Rinearson Creek April 24th

Gladstone High School made a trip to Rinearson Creek this week to sample macroinvertebrates.  First students learned about these tiny stream insects which are vital to the forest ecosystem.  The students learned about the different types of macroinvertebrates which include four orders; mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies and true flies.  Macros have different sensitivity to pollution and depending on which type you find can give a good indication of the health of the stream.  Stoneflies are the most sensitive to pollution so are a great indication of a healthy stream.  But in Rinearson Creek students only found mayflies and worms.  Rinearson Creek is an urban stream so the small amount of macros found is an indication it is polluted but it was also quite a rainy day so a bit hard to sample.  Great job Gladstone!


Tuesday, April 22nd

Valley Catholic Middle School at Johnson Creek

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HAPPY EARTH DAY! This Earth Day, Valley Catholic Middle School mulched over 300 native trees and shrubs at Johnson Creek. We started off the day with a small presentation that explained the history of Earth Day and briefly talked about the thousands of people around the world who were also making a difference.  Then, each student hauled a bucket mulch to the older SOLVE area where years ago Valley Catholic students planted what is now a small forest.  After mulching, each class removed invasive blackberry and Reed Canary grass around the native plants. Overall, it was a splendid day celebrating the Earth!

Thursday, April 24th

Evergreen Middle School at McKay Creek

Evergreen Middle School visited McKay Creek this Thursday for a special visit. The two classes split into three different groups and rotated through an invasive removal station, a native plant Identification and ethnobotany station, and a macro invertebrate station.  Besides a flash of stormy weather in the middle of the visit each station went rather smoothly and everyone had a grand time learning about how to better care for McKay Creek. Thank you so much for coming out Evergreen Middle School!

Friday, April 25th

Tobias Elementary at a Beaverton Creek Tributary

Becca and I sadly said goodbye to the exemplary students and Tobias Elementary school this Friday. To wrap up our time together we reviewed the watershed health basics in class and reiterated the importance of all our hard work this year. Then we hiked out to the forest behind the school so the students could see the fruits of their time on Green Team- a world in bloom!  When we got back to the class room we reflected on our time together and everyone was given a delicious Sesame donut!

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Goodbye Tobias and thank you for all the wonderful times!







March- friendly worms, small storms & loads of trash!

Green Team Week March 3rd to March 7th

Written by Jesuit Volunteers Dane Breslin and Becca Strohm

Clackamas Middle College @ Phillips Creek March 7th

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Clackamas Middle College made a trip this week to Phillips Creek to do both a native planting and a litter clean-up.  Students learned the path of litter from throwing it onto the side of the road to rainwater gutters, to creeks, to rivers and eventually out to the ocean.  Plastics can be eaten by marine life including birds, fish and turtles which believe the plastic is food.  The plastic can get lodged in their digestive system or can cause the animal to believe they are full, causing them to starve due to lack of nutrients.

Look at all that trash!

Look at all that trash!

Overall students collected 400 lbs of garbage around Phillips Creek and the streets around CMC including a shopping cart and a few rugs.  In addition students planted 150 native trees and shubs around Phillips Creek.  Thanks you CMC students and I look forward to another sunny day at Philips Creek!


Monday, March 3rd

 Valley Catholic High School at Johnson Creek

Valley Catholic High School visited Johnson Creek this Monday to do a bioengineering activity with Green Team.  The group installed 100 live dogwood stakes, 50 Sitka Willow Stakes and 50 Schooler Willow stakes behind the school. The stakes contain a rooting hormone that allows them to be propagated quite easily, and will eventually grow into adult shrubs which will hold onto the soil and prevent erosion. Although our time together was fleeting, I truly enjoyed live staking with Valley Catholic and look forward to our next event!

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Tuesday, March 4th

St. Thomas More at Cedar Mill Creek

St. Thomas More second graders visited Cedar Mill Creek and planted 60 native shrubs with Green Team this Tuesday.  The group also installed approximately 50 Willow stakes into the muddy soil at Cedar Mill.  These stakes will one day grow into adult Willows which have incredible root systems which will do an amazing job of reducing erosion by holding onto the soil!  Though the students were small, they worked quickly and efficiently in groups with a parent. Digging a basketball sized hole, massaging roots, giving the plant a “haircut”, and doing a small plant dance after leveling the area around the plant proved to be second nature to the students of St. Thomas More.  Additionally, many of the students found squirmy worm friends, but were careful to put them in safe place before continuing.  Overall, the day was quite nice and I was most impressed with everyone’s behavior. Thank you St. Thomas More, please come out with Green Team again soon!

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Wednesday, March 5th

Rachel Carson at Willow Creek

Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School came out to Willow Creek’s new site this Wednesday remove blackberry roots, plant native trees and shrubs and learn some native plant identification.  The group was very successful and planted approximately 130 native trees and shrubs on the hill by the road.  This very same hill, which is notorious for having monster blackberry roots, now has the potential to become a healthy riparian area.  The group was also quizzed on their ability to identify native plants with only buds and leave scars as hints!  Overall, everyone did an incredible job and I always enjoy working with Rachel Carson students!

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Additionally, fantastic job to all of these students at the Rachel Carson Science fair. I was very impressed!

Thursday, March 6th

City View Charter at Council Creek

City View Charter visited Council Creek this Thursday and helped Green Team maintain the numerous recently planted native, as well as planting some native themselves!  The students planted 76 native trees & shrubs, and then coffee bagged and mulched each plant.  Invasive Reed Canary Grass inundates Council Creek yearly; the coffee bags staked around each plant keep the grass from getting sunlight and give the native plant space to grow.  Mulch around the plant holds onto moisture, keeps the plant warm and also helps prevent Reed Canary Grass from growing densely next to the plant.  Overall, the group did an excellent job, even in the pouring rain! Thank you City View Charter!!


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Forest Park Elementary at Cedar Mill Creek

Later the same day, Forest Park Elementary visited picturesque Cedar Mill Creek with Green Team.  The elementary students had some help from parents planting around thirty native trees & shrubs.  Students had a blast getting their gloves muddy and had fun naming their different plants silly names.  The sun came out near the end of our session and we all appreciated the beams of light moving through the Alder Trees on site.  Overall, Forest Park Elementary students were very well behaved and followed direction precisely. Thank you so much!

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Staking in the New Year

Green Team Eastside Week Jan 27th to Jan 31st

By SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Becca Strohm

Clackamas Middle College @ Phillips Creek January 28th

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Clackamas Middle College students made their first trip of the new year to Phillips Creek to do some bioengineering.  Bioengineering uses techniques with live trees to prevent erosion along the side of the stream bank.  Installing live stakes along the side of a stream will allow for the roots to take hold of the bank side, holding in soil and preventing erosion.  Only a few plants are able to grow from stakes naturally,  Clackamas Middle College used Red Osier Dogwood but willow and spirea are also good to use.  Overall students installed 250 stakes that will take root and prevent erosion into Phillips Creek.  Thanks for all the hard work CMC!

Portland Lutheran School @ Beaver Creek January 29th

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Portland Lutheran School did a little bit of everything this month at Beaver Creek.  We began by learning about bioengineering where we use plant materials to stabilize stream banks.  Branches of willow trees were harvested and students created willow stakes by cutting the branches into two feet sections that were more than an inch in diameter.  Students installed the stakes right along the bank of Beaver Creek in groups of 3 or 5.  Overall students installed about 150 stakes!

Next students reviewed their plant identification skills in order to do some native planting. Portland Lutheran definitely has their opposite native plants down, knowing all the plants in SAM and TED.

Snowberry                                                   Twinberry

Ash                               &                             Elderberry

Maple                                                           Dogwood

Students planted about 75 native trees and shrubs along Beaver Creek.

After lunch students came back for one more round of beaver caging.  We caged the new willow stakes we installed as well as some of the native plants that beavers particularity like.  Portland Lutheran are masters of caging and caged 40 trees and stakes!

Great job Portland Lutheran!  All your hard work is really paying off at Beaver Creek!

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!

Clackamas Middle College Saves Native Plants

CMS @ Phillips Creek October 7th

Written by Becca, SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer

Clackamas Middle College made a trip out to Philips Creek for the first time this school year on Monday.  Students brought the sun for a mostly beautiful day of removing invasive blackberry.  Despite constant efforts to dig up blackberry last year it keep creeping back close to the native plants planted at Phillips Creek.  Students spent their class period cutting away blackberry stems and digging up roots which had begun to invade our native plants.  Students also picked up any litter they saw around Phillips Creek and played a game of Riparian Metaphors, which helped to remind them of the positive aspects of a riparian ecosystem.  Good Job Clackamas Middle College!

Litter isn’t cool…but litter ART is!

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest Americorps members Nicole Poletto and Lauren McKenna

Clackamas Middle College @ Phillips Creek on 4.11.2013

On their monthly outings, Clackamas Middle College couldn’t help but notice all of the trash that continually littered Phillips Creek.  On one sunny day, they dedicated the entire day to a litter clean up and collected 500 pounds of trash!  We washed off some of the trash that we found and turned it into art!

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The students made 3 distinct works of art made from the litter they found at the creek behind their school.

“Aquatic trash; Trash isn’t always this scenic!” An aquatic scene made out of items such as Christmas tree lights, Solo cups, styrofoam, and food wrappers.

“Ode to Litter: not a black and white issue” – An assortment of litter found in the creek such as sandals, straws, food wrappers, energy drinks, lighters, and toys to discourage littering!

“The Path of Trash” – This board depicts a trash along a highway that has washed into the creek, demonstrating that litter in our watershed can make its way out to the ocean!  It was made with fire truck and motorcycle toys found at the creek, plastic bottles, cans, and wrappers!

These works of art can now be used to educate the community about why it is important to reduce our use of plastics! They can help build awareness that some of our waste and litter ends up in our creeks, rivers and eventually makes its way out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the middle of the ocean.  Who knew our trash could have such a powerful message?!

We not only made beautiful masterpieces that day, we also reflected on the year as a whole and wrote articles about Phillips creek.  These articles will be featured in a newsletter distributed to the community to explain why we steward Phillips Creek and all the hard work we have been doing there.  Our native plants also needed our help to battle invasive Reed Canary grass that was beginning to shade them out!  So we cut the grass away from the natives and mulched 50 plants to help suppress the grass, add more nutrients to the soil, and help our native plants retain water.  That way they can grow big and strong and defeat their invasive enemy.

Thank you Clackamas Middle College for your dedication to creating awareness and making Phillips Creek healthier for generations to come.


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Text and photos by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest members, Nicole Poletto and Lauren McKenna

Clackamas Middle College @ Phillip Creek on 3.7.2013

A bright sunny day is the perfect setting for sampling for macroinvertebrates!   A macroinvertebrate survey is one way that we can assess the health of the stream.  But wait, why wouldn’t we just stick a probe in the stream and measure the temperature, dissolved oxygen, etc?  That is because the water quality of the stream only at one point in time doesn’t tell us that much about the health of the stream as a whole.  It is a mere snapshot of stream health.  Therefore we pulled on some waders and hopped in the stream to collect macros!  Macroinvertebrates have relatively long lifespans and don’t migrate – the more diverse the macros found are, the healthier the stream is!

Since 4 classes came out to Phillips creek to assess the health, we divided the creek into 4 sections and moved upstream with each class so that we could get a full picture of Phillips creek’s health.  Students hopped in the stream and took 3 kicks with their D-nets in order to see what was living in the stream!  We found a lot of mayflies (such as small minnow mayflies), scuds, and aquatic worms, not to mention a few crayfish spottings!  Overall, the species that we found are relatively tolerant of pollution.  That means Phillips creek is not as healthy as it could be, and that is why Clackamas Middle College is devoted to improving stream health!  Thank you for all of your hard work!

What did we find?


SOLVE’s Annual Women in Science day will be held at Glen Otto Park in Troutdale on March 23rd from 9-1.  Girls – Are you interested in exploring a career in science? Come chat with mentors currently in the science field over breakfast!  In the afternoon we will be planting trees up the road at Beaver Creek!  Register online at : http://www.solv.org/get-involved/events/women-science-day.  See you there!

Let’s talk Litter

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest members, Nicole Poletto and Lauren McKenna

Clackamas Middle College @ Phillips Creek on 2.7.2013

When you look at a map of Phillips Creek, one of the first things that you notice is that it is surrounded by a sea of concrete, asphalt, and development.  What does this mean for the health of the creek in this urban watershed??

If you drop a piece of trash in a parking lot, where might that end up?  It might wash into Phillips Creek – which eventually will make its way out to the ocean.  Due to gyres, the Coriolis effect, and a whole bunch of trash, there is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the middle of the Pacific ocean that is twice the size of Texas.  It contains 3 million tons of plastic, with 6 pounds of plastic for every 1 pound of plankton!

Since 80% of marine pollution is land based, what can we do to help the health of the streams, oceans, and the creatures living in them?!

Clackamas Middle College had some solutions!! They brainstormed ways to reduce their personal plastic use and then did their very own litter clean up!  They not only picked up trash from the immediate bank of the creek, but also in the surrounding parking lots and around their school!  We found standard items like food wrappers, cans and bottles. But we also found 3 shopping carts, an old toy fire engine, a broken chair, and a few other unique items that one would not expect to find in a creek.

One groups findings from the class period!

One groups findings from the class period!

A few students helped go through the collected litter (46 bags to be exact) and rinse it with a hose.  (You might be thinking…that sounds silly…why would they be doing that?).  Next month Clackamas Middle College will be creating their very own art out of the litter they collected from the creek!  Stay tuned to check out their creations!

A truck full of trash and 3 shopping carts...not bad for a day's work!

A truck full of trash and 3 shopping carts…not bad for a day’s work!

Thanks Clackamas Middle for all of your hard work!


SOLVE’s Annual Women in Science day will be held at Glen Otto Park in Troutdale on March 23rd from 9-1.  Girls – Are you interested in exploring a career in science?  Come learn more and chat with mentors currently in the science field over breakfast!  We will also be planting native trees and shrubs with the mentors in the afternoon. Come and check it out!  Register online at : http://www.solv.org/get-involved/events/women-science-day.  See you there!


If you are interested in reading more about the garbage patch, this article was written the day before our litter clean up:  http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2013/02/fishing_for_plastic_in_a_peace.html#incart_river

The Wonders of Nature

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto

Clackamas Middle College @ Phillips Creek on 12.6.12

Students came to Phillips Creek one more time before their break for the holidays to continue their stewardship efforts.  Since they were now pro’s at invasive removal and native planting they learned another skill in restoration efforts: live staking.  We LOVE native plants but there is something extra special about Willow, Red Osier Dogwood, Ninebark, and Douglas Spirea.  You can cut off a branch (1-2 inches in diameter) from one of these mature shrubs, stake it into the ground, and it will grow into another shrub!  Oh, the wonders of nature!

The students prepared 2-3 foot stakes out of live Willow and Dogwood cuttings and hammered them into the ground right next to the creek.  At this time of the year, the energy of plants is dedicated to growing roots rather than leaves and branches, thus, the stakes will establish a root structure that will hold the bank in place as well as provide shade for the creek!

Once the stakes were installed, the students got to work planting more native species and destroying invasives!  We planted 90 plants and put a lot of Blackberry to bed.  Thanks Clackamas Middle College for all of your hard work!

Kristina, her family, and all other students affected by the Clackamas Town Center shooting are in our thoughts.

A day of planting at Phillips Creek

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest Member Nicole Poletto

Clackamas Middle College @ Phillips Creek on 11.8.12

After a lot of hard work, sections of the Blackberry roots were cleared and only soil was left in its wake.  The bankside was ready to be planted. Clackamas Middle College was geared up and ready to fill the empty space with native trees and shrubs.

The class period began with some tips on Plant Identification.  The lateral buds are very handy for Plant ID, especially now that many of the natives are losing their leaves!  The buds may be alternate, whorled, or oppositely arranged.

The arrangement of lateral buds can help you discern Plant ID! Can you tell the arrangement of these buds? Alternate, Opposite, or Whorled?                                                    (Left to Right: A,O,W,A)                                          Photo: ohioplants.org

If you find a plant that is oppositely arranged, you are in luck!  There are only about 6 natives that we plant that are opposites, and those are our friends SAM and TED.

S: Snowberry                                       T: Twinberry

A: Alder                                                 E: Elderberry

M: Maples                                             D: Dogwood

Once we understood Plant ID and planting technique, we went to work putting plants in the ground!  Each class adopted one area at a time.  By the end of the day, the bankside was no longer barren, but filled with plants!

We ended the day with a writing reflection, writing poems and drawing pictures of our favorite natives.  Here are some samples of the reflections below:

“Ode to the Sword Fern”

The sword turned green

The majestic guardian

of the forest.

It holds the fort,

No soil escapes its grasp.

It stands proud and tall,

Immovable in its life.

The sword fern

is there forever.

“Douglas Fir”

Oh Douglas Fir,

how you sway so sweet,

you make me complete.

You’re native in my state

with the shade you will create.

We got about 150 plants in the ground, which is incredible!  Thanks for your dedication Clackamas Middle College!