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!

Tiny Spineless Critters- cheers to Macros!

Green Team Week March 17th to March 21st

Written by Jesuit Volunteers Becca Strohm and Dane Breslin

Portland Lutheran School @ Beaver Creek March 19th

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Portland Lutheran was out with SOLVE this week to help restore Beaver Creek.  Upon arriving at Beaver Creek students found a large contraption called a “fish catcher” which (despite the name) is meant to survey fish populations.  Baby salmonoids are headed to the ocean after being spawned upstream and are surveyed by the Portland Water Bureau and then put back in the creek to be on their way.  This will give a clearer picture of what fish are in Beaver Creek.  After checking out the “fish catcher” students spent the day planting, removing blackberry and doing GIS work.  Students took water quality points and GPS coordinates of specific spots along the creek which they will be able to make into a map of Beaver.  Students also planted about 10 trees and 100 native shrubs along the bank as well as removing 20 sq feet of blackberry roots.  Great job Portland Lutheran!  Your enthusiasm and energy always inspires me- thanks for the hard work!


Wednesday, March 19th

Rachel Carson at Willow Creek

This Wednesday something interesting happened at Willow Creek; Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School FINISHED planting all of the native trees and shrubs left at the site! This means that approximately 400 native plants have been added to Willow Creek this school year. This is an incredible accomplishment!  On top of planting native, Rachel Carson students continued learning native plant identification (many groups received 90-100% on the quizzes) and removed invasive blackberry roots form the newest planting site. Great job Rachel Carson, you are all amazing students!

Thursday, March 20th

Glencoe High School at McKay Creek

This Thursday, Glencoe High School freshman examined macro invertebrates from McKay creek using class room microscopes. The classes seemed to react with disgust, surprise and amazement at what they found- a large variety of tiny, spineless critters moving through the wetland.  Each student drew their favorite macro and worked in groups to identify what they found. The classes found damsel flies, water mites, aquatic snails and more. One group collected the water used with me in the morning. We all got a bit muddy gathering the macros. Thank you for all of your help and enthusiasm Glencoe!




Preventing Plastic Soup

Green Team Week Feb 24th to Feb 28th

Written by Jesuit Volunteers Dane Breslin and Becca Strohm

Spring Mountain @ Mt Scott Creek Feb 24th

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Spring Mountain Elementary came out for a slightly rainy day this week for bioengineering and some native planting.  Students installed 50 spirea stakes along the side of Mt. Scott Creek.  These stakes will take root and help to hold in the bank preventing erosion into the creek.  Students also planted 35 native trees and shrubs.  Spring Mountain Elementary students were Green Team Masters when asked the benefits of having native trees and shrubs instead of the invasive ivy which was at Mt. Scott.  They knew all the reasons including that native trees and shrubs provide food and habitat for native animals, help to prevent erosion by diversity in root structures, provide shade to cool the creeks down and can filter runoff flowing into the stream.   Great job Spring Mountain Elementary!  We’ll see you next time at Mt. Scott Creek.

Sam Barlow High School @ Beaver Creek Headwaters Feb 25th

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Sam Barlow came out for their second time to plant native trees and shrubs at Beaver Creek.  Students planted around 10 native trees including Western Red Cedars and a few Maples.  Red Cedars are allelopathic meaning the trees excrete a chemical from its root that effects the growth of other plants around it.  Students made sure the Cedars had plenty of room by ensuring the trees had a 10 ft radius around them before planting any other shrubs.  In addition to trees students planted 65 native shrubs including Oregon Grape, Snowberry, Salmonberry and Elderberry.  These berries will provide crucial food for native habitat around Beaver Creek.  Thanks for all the hard work Sam Barlow students.

Portland Lutheran @ Beaver Creek Feb 26th

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Portland Lutheran School spent a day doing bioengineering at Beaver Creek this month.  Dennis O’Connor from Habitat Concepts came out to teach them about bioengineering techniques and help to install some waddles along the bank.  What is a waddle you ask?  Waddles come in different types and PLS students installed a straw waddle and some fascine bundles.  The straw waddle is a 15 ft circular bundle of straw that students staked right along the side of the bank.  This will help to hold the bank in, preventing soil from falling into the creek from erosion.  The fascine bundles are a collection of live stakes tied into bundles that are placed into a small trench and staked in.  The live stakes were made from willow, dogwood and spirea which will eventually take root, becoming shrubs with extensive root structures that will also hold in the bank.

In addition to installing waddles students also live staked amongst the Reed Canary Grass next to the creek.  These stakes will eventually grow into small trees, shading out the Reed Canary Grass.  In the afternoon Roy Iwai from Multnomah County came to give a talk on the fish populations in Beaver Creek.  Students learned about the native and invasive fish populations in Beaver Creek and the problems associated with both a rural and urban stream.  All and all a great day out at Beaver Creek. Thanks for the enthusiasm Portland Lutheran!

Clackamas High School @ Rock Creek Confluence (2/27) and Rock Creek Troge (2/28)

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Clackamas High School students spent a two days at Rock Creek planting native trees and shrubs.  First students visited the Rock Creek Confluence with the Clackamas River for a very rainy day.  Representatives from Clackamas River Basin Council came out to inform the students about the larger project that is happening at the sight which includes in-stream installation of woody debris.  Students then got to work planting 175 native trees and shrubs along the hillside of Rock Creek.  Throughout the day students found a salamander and a native tree frog!

The second day students made a trip out to Rock Creek again but this time farther upstream.  Students were joined by 11 Japanese exchange students from the ESL school of Pacific International Academy at Marylhurst University.   The exchange students worked together with Clackamas students to plant but in addition got to work on their English skills including a lot of pop culture which was exchanged.  Overall students 120 native trees and shrubs along Rock Creek.  Thank you CHS and Marylhurst students- what a great day!


Monday & Tuesday, February 24th and 25th  

Glencoe High School at McKay Creek

This Monday and Tuesday, each of Linda Wolf’s biology classes began the day with a litter in the environment presentation.  As a class, we examined the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and how plastic has detrimental effects on sea life.  When plastic escaped into our water system is breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces which become ingested by sea life and create a plastic “soup” in the ocean. After a short video explaining the garbage patch and a discussion on how to reduce the amount of plastic we use, the class headed outside for some mulching!

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Some ideas of how to reduce the amount of plastic include:

1)      Having and using a reusable water bottle rather than single use water bottles.

2)      Asking for ceramic mugs at coffee shops rather than to-go mugs. If you need to travel, bring your own mug!

3)      Use reusable shopping bags at the grocery store- many sea turtles eat plastic bags thinking they are jelly fish!

4)      Recycle all that you can!

5)      Try not to purchase items that are heavily packaged.

As a group we picked up around seventy pounds of trash and mulched over 400 native trees and shrubs! Excellent job Glencoe High School!

Wednesday, February 26th

Rachel Carson Middle School at Willow Creek

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This Wednesday Rachel Carson came out to Willow Creek for some intense Riparian restoration. As always, the class broke into three groups; planting, winter twig identification and blackberry removal.  Britta and Phil led the planting and filled in the hill by the road which had been recently cleared.  Our teachers lead the blackberry removal effort as there is (what seems like) thousands of roots which still require removal.  I led the winter twig identification station and quizzed each group on their understanding of Sam & Ted (opposite leaved plants) and some of the other common plants we install regularly.  Overall, I was very impressed with everyone’s work and continuously enjoy Rachel Carson students’ love of environmental sciences! Great Job!


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 Chilly Week with Green Team

Green Team Week December 16th – 20th

Written by Jesuit Volunteers Becca Strohm and Dane Breslin

East Side Sites

Sam Barlow @ Beaver Creek December 17th

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Sam Barlow came out one last time before the holiday break to do some more work for Beaver Creek. It was Formal Day at school so our restoration efforts were performed with class as a few students wore dresses, ties and skirts despite the mud and cold.  Students dug out blackberry roots, lopped canes and raked into piles to make room for a native planting in the spring.  Thank you so much for all your efforts to remove invasive blackberry Sam Barlow students!  We will see you in 2014!

Portland Lutheran School @ Beaver Creek December 18th

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Portland Lutheran made their last trip of 2013 to Beaver Creek this week.  It was native planting day!  First we had to move all the plants to our site which took quite a bit of teamwork and then we placed them out for planting.  Each plant has different preferences of where it would grow best in addition to having be properly spread out. Portland Lutheran students did a GREAT job identifying plants and finding the correct area for that plant to grow.  All and all Portland Lutheran planted around 150 plants– excellent work!  While planting we found a SALMON right along the riverbank- living proof that salmon really are coming back to Beaver Creek!

After lunch students did some beaver caging which Portland Lutheran students are experts at, having done it at almost every outing we’ve had this year.  Beaver Creek has high beaver activity so it is important that we cage our small sapling that beaver enjoy which include Red Alders, Willows and Western Red Cedars.  In total students caged 40 native trees!  Thank you for all your work so far this year Portland Lutheran students.  We will see you at Beaver Creek next year!


Tuesday 12/17

Valley Catholic High School at Johnson Creek

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Valley Catholic High School planted over 120 native plants in an area behind their school, that had previously been invasive blackberry, on Tuesday.  The classes began each session by learning some plant identification and where the plants we were installing preferred to be located. Then, a demonstration of how to put the plants into the ground was given, and students got to work in groups of two.  Some groups came up with very creative names for the plants they installed. Examples include: Charlie, Mike, Fresh Beyonce, J.Z., Shanendoah and Chelsea.  I applaud Valley Catholic on their creativity and cannot wait to do some more planting soon!

Thank you for all of your help this week,

Dane Breslin

Dogwood or Ninebark? Snowberry or Cedar? Which native plant did you plant this week?

Green Team Week November 18th to November 25th

Written by Jesuit Volunteers Dane Breslin and Becca Strohm

East Side Sites

Spring Mountain Elementary @ Mt. Scott Creek November 19th

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Spring Mountain Elementary students made a visit to Mt. Scoot Creek to do some  native planting this week.  Having removed invasive plants last month there was plenty of room to put in some lovely natives. Before planting we learned some plant I.D skills to be able to tell our different natives apart.  We looked at our plants to see if they were opposite, alternate or whorled, had simple or compound leaves and if the plant had a different leaf shape.  Some plants we learned were snowberry, ninebark, western red cedar and rose.  Students then went to work planting 65 native plants!  Great job Spring Mountain Green Team- we’ll see you next month at Mt. Scott Creek!

Portland Lutheran School @ Sandy River for Salmon Toss November 20th

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Portland Lutheran students traveled far upstream on the Sandy River to Lost Creek Campground to participate in a salmon toss.  Jeff Fulop from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Corinne Handelman from the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council came out with the salmon for students to toss into the Sandy.  Students also participated in a salmon dissection to learn the parts of a salmon and their functions.  Despite the bitter cold students about 350 salmon into the river!  After a warm-up in the car, students visited Oxbow Park.  Representatives from the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council and Portland Water Bureau gave tours of a large wood project and a conserved flood plain.  Thanks for all the hard work Portland Lutheran!  We’ll see you next month back at Beaver Creek.

Rex Putnam High School @ Boardman Wetland November 21st

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Rex Putnam students visited Boardman Wetlands on a blistery Thursday morning to do some native plantings.  Students learned some plant I.D skills to be able to recognize our native plants.  Students planted twinberry, ash, spirea and rose.  Planting in a wetland uses a slightly different technique than our normal way of planting.  Instead of digging a hole students had to create a little slit in the ground and place the plant inside.  Then they used their shovel to close up the slit, kind of like a zipper.  Overall students planted 67 plants!  Great job Rex Putnam- we’ll see you in December!


Tuesday 11/19- Valley Catholic Middle School at Johnson Creek

Tuesday, Valley Catholic Middle School cleared around five hundred feet of blackberry at Johnson Creek.  Valley Catholic High School had cut the area free, but the vicious blackberry roots had to be painstakingly dug up.  It was a great and MUDDY adventure, and now the area is finally prepared for native planting!

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Wednesday 11/20- Rachel Carson Middle School at Willow Creek

Wednesday, Rachel Carson Middle School learned plant identification, planted fifty native plants and removed around three hundred feet of invasive Armenian Blackberry.  Additionally, teachers on site worked with students to measure native plant growth.  I was thoroughly impressed with this groups plant identification skills and their ability to memorize our native opposite leaved plants- S.A.M & T.E.D.

S- Snowberry

A-Ash (Oregon Ash)

M-Maple (Vine, Big Leaf Maple)


T- Twinberry

E- Elderberry (Red, Blue Elderberry)

D-Dogwood (Red Osier Dogwood)

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Thursday 11/21- Valley Catholic High School at Johnson Creek

This Thursday, Valley Catholic High School seniors planted forty five native plants at the same site Valley Catholic Middle School cleared earlier in the week.  We were all amazed at the transformation of the site, as what was once a blackberry monoculture started to resemble a healthy forest ecosystem!  More planting and continued maintenance will be required to see this transformation reach fruition.

Great Job Valley Catholic!

Friday 11/22- Tobias Elementary School at Beaverton Creek Tributary

This Friday, Green Team visited Tobias Elementary School to learn plant identification and to plant native. However, when we arrived all the plants were frozen in their buckets!!  Luckily, we were able to bring a wheelbarrow of native plants into the school and teach plant I.D. right in the classroom.  After the temperature warmed up a bit we did head outside and thawed our sapling with warm water before placing them in the ground. To teach us all how to plant, we were lucky enough to have Margaret from Clean Water Services come as a special guest!  Overall, we were able to plant one hundred and fifty native plants!

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Amazing job to all of my classes this week! Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Macros, Caging, Roots Oh My!

Portland Lutheran School @ Beaver Creek October 16th, 2013

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Becca Strohm

Portland Lutheran students came out to Beaver Creek for their second trip on October 16th.  In the morning students pulled on some waders and performed a macroinvertebrate survey of Beaver Creek.  Macroinvertebrates are aquatic insects that have no vertebrae but you can see with your naked eye.  Students took D-nets into the stream kicking up sediment and rocks to see what they could find.  Students were looking to identify macros in the four main families (see picture below) which each have a different tolerance of pollution.

macro  Students found mainly small minnow mayflies and a few caddisflies.  These species are more pollution tolerant so students concluded that Beaver Creek may be a more polluted stream.

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After a beautiful lunch on the Sandy River students took of their waders and did some maintenance at our Beaver Creek site.  Students did some blackberry root removal and beaver caging.  Having done both activities before students were experts and got a lot of work done caging 30 native species and removing around 40 blackberry roots!  Excellent work Portland Lutheran- we’ll see you next time at Beaver Creek!

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Portland Lutheran’s First Trip of the Year

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer, Becca Strohm

Portland Lutheran @ Beaver Creek 9.18.13

Mr. Tarbell’s middle school science class came out for the first time to Beaver Creek on Wednesday.      The students took TriMet over and spent the whole day doing great work out at Beaver Creek.   All the students got to participate in two stations.  The first was with Mr. Tarbell doing stream mapping.  Unfortunately some students were a tad overenthusiastic and flooded their waders but luckily it was a warm, sunny day and they dried quickly!

The second station included a riparian metaphor game, invasive blackberry removal and maintenance of the native plants at Beaver Creek.  If you didn’t know, the word riparian literally means “bankside” in Latin.  So to play our metaphor game everyone picked an object out of bag and thought of a metaphor for what the object might represent in a healthy riparian area.  An example was a camouflage bandanna the different colors represented different native trees promoting biodiversity.  Great metaphors Portland Lutheran!  Students also removed invasive blackberry roots around Beaver Creek using shovels.  As long as you remove the whole root of blackberry from the ground it will not grow back and Portland Lutheran was successful at digging up a bunch of roots.  Some students’ also mulched and put beaver caging around native saplings planted at Beaver Creek.  The caging protects the young plants from beaver damage and the mulch helps the plants retain moisture and provides nutrients to the young saplings.  All in all a great day and a great job by Portland Lutheran students!  We’ll see you next month back out at Beaver Creek!

Portland Lutheran says “see you later” to Beaver Creek

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

Portland Lutheran School @ Beaver Creek on 4.25.2013

Once again, Portland Lutheran School brought, energy and enthusiasm to Beaver Creek for their last outing.  They also had a new friend that day – SUNSHINE!  For the past 4 outings, Portland Lutheran students have been working in the pouring rain and hail to restore Beaver Creek.  Sunshine was a great thank you for all of their hard work!

Students completed individual inquiry projects, testing hypotheses about water quality of Beaver Creek.  Some students collected macroinvertebrates, some measured the stream width, some took water quality measurements using Vernier’s Lab Quest equipment.

Portland Lutheran also wrote reflections for a community newsletter to be distributed to the surrounding community.  The newsletter would inform residents about all of their restoration activities throughout the year.  Students distributed the newsletters full of their artwork, articles, and poems for the residents of Troutdale to be inspired!

One of the poems featured was:

“Better than we found it”

We go to Beaver Creek and we work

We clear the blackberries

And spread the mulch

We hope to leave it better than we found it.

We go to Beaver Creek and we work

We map the stream

And check the water quality

We hope to leave it better than we found it.

We go to Beaver Creek and we work

We plant Alder and Red Dogwood

We help the habitat

We hope to leave it better than we found it.

But there is dirty runoff

And there are plants that shouldn’t be there

And I really hope it is not too late

To leave it better than we found it.

We hung out by the Sandy River, ate lunch, and basked in the glorious sunshine before we headed back up to our restoration site.  This was our last chance to protect the baby natives we planted from invasive species and the hot summer months!  We mulched 50 plants to help them retain water and add more nutrients to the soil.  We also coffee-bagged 50 plants to help suppress invasives from growing too close to our plants.  It was hotter down by the stream than expected, and some students even decided to make their jeans shorts instead!

To finish the day, we ate donuts and celebrated our progress at Beaver Creek.  The site transformed from a wall of Armenian Blackberry to a sea of native trees and shrubs and willow stakes.  As a student said, “As an invasive it did not naturally evolve to live with everything here.  Something brought it here.  Humans did this so we are destined to serve nature by defending her offspring and her home.” 

Portland Lutheran rejoices after a year of stewardship at Beaver Creek!

Portland Lutheran rejoices after a year of stewardship at Beaver Creek!

Thanks to Portland Lutheran School’s dedication we have made Beaver Creek healthier for future generations.  They came out not only for a class period, but for a whole school day taking the Tri-Met bus to our site!!! Incredible. See you next year!