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.

Native Trees, Please!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Lauren McKenna

Forest Grove Community School @ Gales Creek 11/01/2012

After a cold and rainy Halloween, Forest Grove Community School returned to Gales Creek to find it much wetter than before and ready for them to plant trees and test the water quality of the collecting ponds.

Native trees will provide shade, stabilized the creek bank, filter out toxins and provide wildlife habitat.

The lively bunch planted about 50 native trees — Western Red Cedar, Scouler’s and Pacific Willow and Oregon Ash — along the creek where they had cut down the invasive Reed Canarygrass; they also learned a little about these trees, about lenticels and about why we are planting them here.  Oregon Ash, for example, is great in degraded soil, like the soil by Gales Creek.  Willows offer lots of shade and can be planted from cutting that will grow into whole new trees!  Some students had some special one-on-one time with the trees and got to draw them.  Others strapped on waders and hopped into the creek to test water quality.

Lenticels are pore-like spots of tree trunks that help with gas exchange (especially oxygen from the air). Trees like Oregon ash and Red Alder have especially visible lenticels. Their large lenticels allow them to do well in degraded soil.

When asked what their favorite part of the day was, most students said getting into the water to test it and getting muddy from planting trees!

Thank you FGCS for another fun filled day!

In between the willows and reed canary

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Forest Grove Community School @ Gales Creek 10/4/12

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Member Lauren McKenna and SOLVE Green Team Coordinator Meghan Ballard.

On a crisp early October morning, just outside Forest Grove, Forest Grove Community School eight graders along with their teachers met with Gales Creek.  Many students were meeting the creek for the very first time.  The enthusiastic group was ready to work hard, learn a lot, and enjoy the willows.

The group was broken up into three, rotating groups.  One group got geared up to chop up invasive Reed Canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea).  By cutting away the grass that is growing around the native plants (many of which are about 2-3 years old now), we can save the native plants from being smothered by the grass and let them grow big and healthy.  Reed Canary grass’s main enemy is shade, which is how we can ultimately get rid of it.

Another group went with their teacher Chris to the meadow behind Gales Creek to play some games and explore.  They also started to brainstorm ideas for project to do at Gales Creek in the future.  The last group relaxed under a thicket of rogue willows to play the Riparian Metaphors game and do some reflections.  Below is a poem and a leaf rubbing done by two  FGCS students.

Dogwood Leaves Rubbing


Gales Creek,

peaceful, green

growing, splashing, thriving

mud, trees, concrete, buildings

driving, developing, walking

urban, small

Forest Grove

-Student, grade 8, Forest Grove Community School


Pyrrharctia isabella: the Banded Woolly Bear caterpillar turns into the Isabella Tiger moth!

Isabella Tiger moth! (Photo: Seabrooke Leckie)

 In between rotations, students found a lot of wildlife around the creek: a birdnest, a Banded Woolly Bear Caterpillar and an Ensatina salamander (E

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nsatina eschscholtzii)!  It was an overall VERY successful day.  THANK YOU Forest Grove Community School students, teachers and parents who came out to Gales Creek.  The creek thanks you, too!