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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



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!

photo 2 (5)

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

Stream Bugs and Mayflies and Scuds, Oh My!

Forest Park Elementary School @ Cedar Mill Creek 5/28

Stream bugs and mayflies and scuds, oh my!  These were some of the really cool aquatic macroinvertebrates the students from Forest Park Elementary School found in Cedar Mill Creek that runs behind their school.  Though it had just rained and the water was moving fast (and carrying some trash with it, too :/ ), we found lots of moderately sensitive invertebrate life in the creek.

The students counted over 50 mayfly larvae taken from only two samples!  Caddisfly larvae cased in leaves, small minnow and flathead mayflies, spindly water striders, fast little water boatmen and squirmy midges lined the sampling tubs.  Flathead mayflies Even from doing a quick visiua assessment, we can mke an educated guess that Cedar Mill Creek is moderately healthy. 

2013-05-28 15.25.59

Nicole (SOLVE) searches for stream insects with students.

Flathead Mayfly larvae!


2013-05-28 15.44.59

Flathead Mayfly larvae!

Left: Flathead mayfly (Order Ephemeroptera) larvae indicate moderatly good water quality.  They scrap algae and such off rocks and may live in pretty fast currents under rocks in a stream.  The name “Ephemeroptera” has to do with their short life span when they become adults… some only live a day!

Thank you Forest Park Elementary School students and parents!  We hope to see you next school year!

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Too Mulch Fun with Forest Park Elementary!

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Member, Gina Graziano

Students came runnin’ down the path to find a beautiful, sunny afternoon at Cedar Mill Creek! Unlike our last Green Team activity, the weather was perfect- sunny but not too warm… perfect for doing some stream restoration work. Students gathered round and we reviewed the reasons for dumping buckets of mulch next to all of the native trees and shrubs we planted.

“For nutrients!” one student exclaimed, “to help hydrate them!” another added, and “to get rid of blackberry!” a student shared. All of those reasons are exactly right! Mulch helps retain moisture in the warm, summer months, suppresses weeds such as Armenian Blackberry, and gives the plant some great nutrients it needs to survive!

After that little review, we were off! People were filling buckets in an assembly line of sorts, others shuttling the buckets to plants, and some students even took the time to make plant identification signs in front of some of our plantings! Thanks, Meghan (SOLVE) for helping students identify and spell the names of our plants! Before we knew it, all of our plants were mulched, and ready for summer!

We headed back up to the classroom to have popsicles and review our work as a Green Team this year. Students shared their favorite parts of the year and gave helpful suggestions for Green Team next year. We at SOLVE really appreciate all of your help this year, hope you have a wonderful summer, and can’t wait to see you in the fall!

Thank you Audrey for all of your incredible dedication to the Green Team and thank you parent volunteers who make this stream restoration project possible. And, most of all, thank you wonderful Forest Park Elementary School Green Team for your positive energy and willingness to make a difference in your watershed!

Thank you very mulch, Forest Park Elementary School!

It was no clear and sunny day when Forest Park hustled down the hill to greet Cedar Mill Creek. It was one of the rainiest days this springtime, in fact! But that didn’t stop our students from doing an awesome job of completing our restoration task at hand.

We had mulch in piles ready for students to place around all of the native trees and shrubs we have planted. Students filled buckets, pots, and even a wheelbarrow full of mulch to give each plant. This mulch will help keep the plants healthy in the warm, dry summer months when there is not so much rain. It will also help with weed suppression and give the plants some good nutrients.

After students mulched as many plants as they could, we were pretty darn wet and cold so we headed back in to see what other Green Team activity awaited us. Students made posters to educate fellow students, parents, teachers, and faculty about not idling your car, planting native trees and shrubs, composting, and more! Students wrote great short poems, phrases, and suggestions on their posters!

We headed home wet and muddy but we sure did get a lot of great work done. Thank you very mulch, Forest Park Elementary!

Stampede at Cedar Mill Creek!


The stampede of Forest Park Elementary school’s green team could be heard from all around, even scaring some of the areas residents (a few deer that were walking across the stream scoping out the most delicious yards). Everyone was so excited to get working on planting some more native species.  They were so excited that “Where are the shovels?” was the most common question throughout the whole planting time. The students worked hard on Thursday, going through plant after plant, even after a few fell into the mud.  One student called it “his gift to Mother Earth”.

We even found an Ensatina Salamander in the mud as we were planting! We got to hold him for a short bit and then made sure to put him back in a safe spot to keep him healthy and protected!

These kids are so motivated to help the environment, and it’s really inspiring. All of their efforts really paid off and everyone was ecstatic that they had planted over 100 plants! Great job guys!

Forest Park Elementary exceeds planting expectations!

Written by guest blogger, Chole, Green Team intern from Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School:

On Thursday afternoon, the clomping sound of boots belonging to Green Team members could be heard echoing down the hill from Forest Park Elementary School. After reaching the bottom of the trail the kids were excited to see all the shrubs and trees that were laid out waiting to be planted.

After a brief demonstration from Gina and Chloe (also known as Rachel) everyone rushed off to begin planting Red Alder, Nootka Rose and Red Osier Dogwood.

Forest Park Elementary also developed a new way of removing potting soil from the small plants. As far as the eye could see kids smashed the plants against large trees until their roots were free from all the potting soil. The kids were very fast planters and got through the 70 plants that were set out for them. In the end parents and students planted over 130 trees and shrubs! This group of elementary schoolers is only the second group of kids that age to do restoration with SOLVE, but they work just as hard as any older group. We are all very impressed with their efforts and all the kids can’t wait to get back and do it again!

Himalayan Blackberry is no match for Forest Park Elementary School Green Team!

What is down hill from Forest Park Elementary School besides Starbucks? A river! This week Forest Park Elementary School Green Team students learned about watersheds and all the pollutants that drain into our streams and rivers. After rushing out to get shovels everyone was eager to see what met them on the trail.

This turned out to be one of the nastiest invasive species known to the green team, Himalayan Blackberry! Without any hesitation shovels were thrust into the ground, roots were pulled and vines snapped. The blackberry was no match for determined elementary schoolers. Their hard work really paid off and the area looked much nicer than it did before.

Once we returned to the classroom, the students reflected on their experience by drawing pictures, writing haikus and great stories. Everyone did an amazing job and we can’t wait to work with them again! Thanks especially to the parent volunteers who were a big help!

Written by Chloe, SOLV Intern