An exciting BEGINNING for the end of September

September 29th marked our first time OUTDOORS with Green Team students this year.

Gladstone High School was able to start our year off right by pioneering a new area at Dahl Beach. For those of you that are familiar with the site, we have moved on to the side of the trail across from where we have worked in years past. After playing Riparian Metaphors, students worked hard to tackle large and complex blackberry bushes, as well as bits of English Ivy, Nightshade and Morning Glory. They left feeling accomplished and excited to see the changes that happen in the next few weeks with the work of other schools, as well as the greater impact all of Green Team will make throughout this year.

While most blackberry bush removal simply revealed ground covered in English Ivy, one group of students discovered something equally frightening – a creepy life-side doll head. What an eerie (but funny) find for Gladstone Green Team to jumpstart the spooks of October!

The next day, Portland Lutheran freshman and sophomore biology students were able to get out explore Beaver Creek for the first time this year. Many of the students are seasoned Green Team veterans who found their return to this site exciting and full of memories. The group did a great job clearing large areas of Blackberry and Reed Canary Grass, along with patches Nightshade and Morning Glory. It’s unfortunate that they had to see so many invasives up close, but we are lucky and thankful a great impact in removal was made! It was awesome seeing second year Green Teamers growing in their love and understanding for the outdoors, as well as help new students learn their course. It is always reassuring and fun for us to see students naming native plants, teaching others which to remove, and yearn to see the remains of the impact they made in years past. Students also got the chance to play Riparian Metaphors, study phenology and collect moss for further research in the classroom.

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!

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!







Predaceous Diving Beetles- Ahoy!

Green Team Week April 7th to April 11th

Written by Jesuit Volunteers Dane Breslin and Rebecca Strohm

West Linn High School @ Clackamas-Willamette Confluence April 8, 9 & 10th

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West Linn High School students visited the Clackamas-Willamette Confluence this week to do a few different restoration activites.  First students planted did a little native planting to provide food and habitat for native animals and help prevent erosion Having planted before, students were experts and planted 140 trees and shrubs.  Also on the agenda was bioengineering.  Students installed live dogwood stakes into the wetter areas of the Confluence site.  Dogwoods having a specific hormone that allows them to take root and grow into a new tree after being staked into the ground.  Students installed 150 dogwood stakes that will grow into beautiful dogwood trees.  Students also spread 14 bales of straw around the exposed bare ground.  Removing invasive blackberry and ivy in the beginning of the year left the ground exposed except for the native plants.  The straw will help the soil retain moisture during the hot summer months and help in preventing the soil from eroding.  Students also found a few long-toed salamander and a variety of birds on site including an osprey and red-tailed hawk.  Thanks for the hard-work and dedication West Linn!  See you next time!

Gladstone High School @ Clackamas-Willamette Confluence April 10th

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Gladstone High School made a trip out to the Clackamas-Willamette Confluence this week.  It was invasive removal day and first up was a little round of riparian metaphors.  Students related regular household items to ways in which riparian areas benefit the environment.  For instance an ice cube tray could represent cold water.  Large trees along a stream bank provide shad over the creek which can assist in cooling the water, allowing more dissolved oxygen for aquatic organisms.  A coffee filter could represent native plants which assist in filtering run-off that is flowing into streams.  After riparian metaphors students got to work removing invasive species.  This particular site is home to many invasives including Armenian blackberry, English Ivy, holly, clematis and morning glory.  Students dug and pulled these invasive species, removing about 50 sq feet.  Thanks for bringing the sunshine and enthusiasm Gladstone students!


Wednesday, April 9th

Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School at Willow Creek

This Wednesday was particularly sunny down at Willow Creek and Rachel Carson Middle School visited the old site for macro invertebrate surveys, coffee bagging and site tours. We also had some special guests with us from SOLVE, and the Rachel Carson students did a phenomenal job of explaining what we were doing and made everyone feel welcomed.

Here is a run-down of the day:

First, we did macro invertebrate surveys, which were especially exciting as we found huge predaceous diving beetles, a plethora of damsel fly larvae, and four large dragonfly larvae.  As always, a few students “accidentally” fell into the creek while collecting macros with long nets.  Overall, the surveys were a success and Willow Creek is teeming with life!  Students then coffee bagged native plants to give them a better chance of survival midst the sea of invasive, fast growing, Reed Canary Grass. The coffee bags are placed on both sides of the native plant and held firmly into the ground with biodegradable stakes.  The bags themselves are generously donated by Boyd’s coffee and naturally break down over time, while also preventing Reed Canary Grass from growing too close to the native plant.  To wrap up the day, each Rachel Carson group went on a site tour and got to look at pictures of the site from nine years ago!  The change has been amazing!

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Thank you Rachel Carson, it has been so awesome working with you this year!

Dane Breslin



Spring Brings Bees and Straw

Green Team Week March 31st- April 5th

Written by Jesuit Volunteers Dane Breslin and Becca Strohm

Gladstone High School @ Clackamas-Willamette Confluence 4/1

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Students from Gladstone High School made their first trip out of the new trimester this week to the Clackamas-Willamette Confluence.  This site is brand new this year and needs lots of work.  It is home to a variety of invasive plants including Armenian blackberry, English ivy, clematis, morning glory, trees of heaven and holly.  In the future this site will become essential side channel habitat for fish and other wildlife in the Clackamas and Willamette rivers.  Since it is the very end of our planting season students started out by planting some native shrubs in an area that used to be all blackberry.  Students planted around 75 shrubs including Oregon grape, salmonberry and some snowberry.  In addition to the site being full of invasive plants it is also full of trash.  An old dumping ground, the site is full of litter including some pretty creepy, old toys.  Students collected around 20 lbs of trash which we hauled out to be disposed of properly.  Great job Gladstone students- thanks for the enthusiasm!

Clackamas High School @ Rock Creek 4/3, 4/4

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Students from Clackamas High School enjoyed a beautiful day at Rock Creek this week.  They participated in a variety of activities to help restore the area.  First off students spread 10 bales of straw around the bare ground where blackberry was removed and new native plants have been planted.  The straw is to help retain moisture so that when it rains the bare ground does not just become mud and erode into the stream.  Students also planted about 15 more native plants and coffee bagged.  Coffee bags are put around plants in grassy areas to help suppress the grass and other weeds.  The next day students mulched, removed blackberry and put up beaver caging.  Mulching also helps to suppress weeds and retain moisture around the plants.  Students mulched in a perfect doughnut shape around 100 native trees and shrubs.  In addition students removed about 30 square feet of invasive blackberry roots and protected 30 saplings with beaver caging.  Thanks for the hard work CHS students- see you next time at Rock Creek.


Monday, March 31st

Glencoe High School at McKay Creek

This Monday I met Glencoe High School freshman not at McKay Creek, but in the classroom where we investigated and discovered a whole plethora of interesting bugs!  With turkey basters the students combed through the muddy waters (I collected) from McKay Creek that morning.  Once a critter was found it was promptly placed under the electron microscope for further investigation.  The students found some very interesting macro invertebrates this Monday including (check guide thing for names).

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Overall, it was a wonderful day by the microscopes! Thanks Glencoe!

Wednesday, April 2nd

Rachel Carson at Willow Creek


This Wednesday Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School met at the Willow Creek old site where we went on site tours, studied macro invertebrates and installed William’s bee boxes!  Starting off the day students got a chance to see the site Rachel Carson has been stewards of for 10 year.  The next group worked with Nicole collecting macros with long nets from the stream and then siphoning them off into smaller trays for a closer look. The last group worked with me and William who is doing a project on bees.  He actually built two bee boxes himself and we spent the day planting native plants that will attract the bees.  We also traveled to the new site and worked to install the box he made into an old tree.  I look forward to William’s presentation at the West Side Summit!

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Thank you for a beautiful day Rachel Carson!

Thursday, April 3rd

City View Charter at School


This Thursday Nicole, Becca and I visited City View Charter School toting bags of trash, cans of spray paint and minds filled with imagination- TRASH ART DAY!  Last week, we collected old plastic bottles, candy wrappers and a host of other items from Philips Creek. We cleaned the items and on Thursday students cut them into pieces and, spray painted them and then glued them together to make a beautiful dragonfly mural.  We started the event by doing our own small trash pickup at the school and discussing the problems we all face with litter in the environment. Great job City View Charter!

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Forest Park Elementary at Cedar Mill Creek

On Thursday Nicole and I met with Forest Park Elementary school students and planted all of the remaining native plants at Cedar Mill Creek- around 50 overall!  That is quite impressive given that most of the planters were less than five feet tall.  Also, one of the students worked with me and offered to do a planting demo for the Summit. He did an excellent job explaining how to safely get our beloved native plants into the ground. Thank you Forest Park!

Friday, April 4th

Valley Catholic High School at Johnson Creek

This Friday, Valley Catholic High School met at Johnson Creek and we planted 280 native plants!  The classes worked like machines expertly digging basketball sized holes, massaging roots to stimulate growth and graceful plant dancing once the holes were filled.  To celebrate our last day together we had delicious doughnuts generously donated be Sesame Donuts. The folks at Sesame even gave me a free coffee for coming in- Thank you so much!  Valley Catholic I will miss you all and thank you for being such excellent planters!

Saturday, April 5th

Forest Grove High School at Gales Creek

This Saturday Forest Grove High School met at Gales Creek and we did a plethora of activities. We started the day with coffee bagging the 70 native plants that we installed the previous visit.  The coffee bags will give our natives a head up in the continuous battle with Reed Canary Grass.  Next, we installed the remaining native grasses by the stream (which was very muddy). The hope is that these native grasses will actively complete with the Reed Canary Grass for dominance of the area.  Lastly, we got into the stream itself and collected macro invertebrates. We found the most AMAZING variety of bugs including Mayflies and a Caddis fly the size of my pinky finger!  To wrap up the day Ben Crabtree (the “best teacher ever” according to a number of students) treated us all to homemade brownies which competed with the donuts I provided.

This was our last visit and I will miss you dearly Forest Grove High school!


Dane Breslin



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!

Roots and Stakes at Rinearson Creek

Gladstone High School @ Rinearson Creek Oct 24th and Oct 31st

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Becca Strohm

Gladstone students made two trips out to Rinearson Creek to do invasive removal and some bioengineering.

The first day students continued their work in clearing the new area near the Rinearson Creek headwaters of blackberry.  Lots of roots were dug and thorns cleared to make room for native plants which will be planted later in the year.

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On Halloween students came out to do some bioengineering or using plant materials to prevent or reduce erosion.  Trees will take root along the stream bank and the roots will help to hold in the soil, preventing erosion.   Willows are great for bioengineering because you can cut off larger branches, stake them into the ground and they will become new trees. The area around Rinearson Creek is also overrun with reed canary grass so the fast-growing willows installed will help to shade the grass out.

Students harvested willow stakes from the bioswale behind Gladstone High School which collects runoff from the parking lot.  Twigs were cut off to ensure the new willows put all their energy into making roots and were placed into the ground.  Theses willows will help to get rid of the reed canary grass and hold the soil in place at Rinearson Creek.  A great two days of hardwork Gladstone students!

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A New Site for a New Year

Gladstone High School @ Rinearson Creek 9/26

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer: Becca

Gladstone High School made a trip out to Rinearson Creek for the first time on September 26th.  They have moved to a new site this year, a little farther upstream then the past few years at the Rinearson Creek headwaters.  The new site is full of invasive blackberry, hawthorn, English ivy and purple nightshade.  A new site means lots of work to be done

The blackberry patch before...

The blackberry patch before…


Blackberry Patch After!

Blackberry Patch After!

Students came out to play a riparian metaphor game and remove invasive blackberry and English ivy.  To get rid of blackberry, students cut the thorny stems away while others dug out the blackberry roots- a great team effort!  The roots and stems were placed in a huge pile so that the root bulb will dry out and the blackberry won’t be able to grow back.  Having a new site means large blackberry patches that are untouched but Gladstone students dived in to cut and dig out blackberry.  All in all Gladstone removed about 30 square feet of blackberry at the new site.  Great Job Gladstone students!

Together, we can make a difference!

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

West Linn HS @ Rinearson Creek on 4.17 and 4.18.2013

Gladstone HS @ Rinearson Creek on 4.18.2013

Rinearson Creek was feeling the love with 2 local high schools coming to restore it!  West Linn High School and Gladstone High School were geared up and ready to mulch and protect the native plants they planted!  Mulch helps the plant retain water in the warm summer months when these schools won’t be there to take care of them.  It also adds nutrients to the soil and helps suppress weeds!

Before we mulched, we learned about some Ethnobotany of our native plants, like Oregon Grape!  It is our state flower and is anti-microbial.  If you have a cold or a cough you can crush up the leaves and stem of the plant into a tea and it will make you feel better.

Students then got to work making mulch donuts for the native plants!  A few Gladstone students even had competitions for who could make the perfect mulch donut, but we will be honest, it was almost impossible to choose!

West Linn HS:

Gladstone HS:

A few West Linn students also caged a few conifers to protect them from beaver damage.  As if that wasn’t enough for a days work – we also spent some time reflecting on the year for the community newsletter that will be distributed at the end of the year to the surrounding community!

On Thursday, West Linn HS celebrated Global Youth Service Day by leading a tour of Rinearson Creek.  SOLVE’s Green Team students are part of the movement of 2,346 projects in 135 countries of youth giving back to their community to make the world a better place on Global Youth Service Day. Incredible!

Thank you so much to all the students of both West Linn HS and Gladstone HS for all of your hard work throughout the year!

Together, we can make a difference!

Another cycle of stewardship!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member, Nicole Poletto

Gladstone HS @ Rinearson Creek on 4.2.2013

It is the third and final trimester of the year which means a new class of Gladstone Gladiators will pick up where their peers left off and continue to improve the health of Rinearson creek!

We kicked off our first visit to Rinearson creek with a game of riparian metaphors.  The word “riparian” literally means “bankside” when translated from Latin.  How do you play this game?  Well, we pulled items out of a bag and came up with metaphors for what they might represent in a healthy riparian zone.  For example, sunglasses could be a metaphor for shade to keep the water cool and oxygenated.  We came up with clever metaphors for strainers, camouflage shirts, yogurt containers, bird houses, and more!

We also talked about some of the invasive species at Rinearson creek, like Reed Canary Grass!  Reed Canary Grass is a pesky invasive that can grow over 6 feet tall in the summer time.  It has a crazy seed bank in the soil that can remain viable for 50 years.  The native plants that we plant will shade out the Reed Canary grass once they grow tall enough – but they need our help to do it!  So we grabbed some shears (which look like giant scissors) and started to cut the grass away from our native plants to give them some breathing room and sunlight to grow big and tall.

We worked among the full-grown Dogwoods and Willows that Gladstone students planted three years ago which served as a reminder of the reward of our hard work.  One day other students will come to Rinearson and admire our progress from this year! And so the cycle continues…