Eastside 2013 Green Team Student Summit!

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The school year is winding down and the summer is rapidly approaching.  Green Team students took this opportunity to celebrate their efforts over the past year on their stream and wetland enhancement projects.  Eastside Green Team students gathered on May 17th at Rex Putnam High School for a day of celebration and sharing!

After an introduction from Kris, our Green Team Program Coordinator in lieu of Meghan Ballard on maternity leave, we kicked things off with our Keynote speaker! John Runyon is a Principle at his own environmental consulting firm, Cascade Environmental Group, overseeing watershed planning and restoration projects of all types. John shared his background experiences in fisheries, forestry, and stream restoration and encouraged us to continue to search for our passions!

Spring Mountain Elementary kicked off the morning with a video of what they this year in their very first year with SOLVE.  This enthusiastic group of third, fourth, and fifth graders restored Mt. Scott Creek after school, all year-long.  Our next presenters were our hosts, Rex Putnam High School‘s Sustainable Systems class.  They presented a documentary of their work at Boardman Wetlands and in their class throughout the year.  Portland Lutheran School described how their class mapped Beaver creek using GIS technology.  Students took the TriMet bus to Beaver Creek 5 times this year and completed individual inquiry projects and stream restoration activities.  Rod and Angie Shroufe’s classes from Clackamas High School explained how they have kept Rock Creek healthy throughout the year and the reason for their November Salmon tosses.  Clackamas High School also has an after school Green Team that has worked at Rock Creek and Mt. Scott Creek this year.  They explained the various projects they have implemented throughout the year to make Clackamas High School green! Last but not least, we had the Watershed Avengers, in all of their glory, from Clackamas High School present a lighthearted video about the removal of invasive species and get a little jiggy with it.  WATCH IT HERE.

SOLVE also recognized Amanda from Clackamas High School as this year’s Student of the Year.  Amanda participated in the SOLVE Stream Team Captain 3 day training in June.  Since then, she has dedicated 10 Saturdays to leading SOLVE events, which is hard to imagine from a busy high-schooler!  She is a shining example of how SOLVE and other local organizations can help you learn new skills, try experiences, and explore natural resources as a possible career.

A BIG thank you to our presenters, 12 Eastside Schools and 1120 students for your constant dedication and hard work to make our watersheds healthier for generations to come.  We are inspired by your passion and can’t wait to see all the things you will continue to do in the future.  This of course, also wouldn’t be possible without our Green Team Teachers who have motivated and encouraged their students throughout the year with their positive attitudes, rain or shine!  

Also thank you to the following sponsors, partners and friends who attended the summit and for supporting our work:

A parting thought from a Gladstone High School student this year:

A place so calm but corrupted

but people like us can fix it.

Each day we plant a new life

to help save the fish.

Pushing towards a new beginning I remind myself.

I am a student

I am an Oregonian

I am one of hundreds who’s willing to make a difference”

Thanks for playing in the mud, sun and hail with us, it has been a blast!

Good Day Sunshine!

Text and photos by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest AmeriCorps Member Lauren McKenna


The last time Portland Lutheran spend the day at Beaver Creek, they also spent the day in the POURING rain.  Of course, it’s not a  SOLVE day without a  little watering!  During this last visit, however, they got sun, Sun, SUN!

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Before heading to the creek, we all talked a little about litter in the environmnet and how people — that means you, kids! — can reduce how much litter there is and how much we depend on plastic.  As we helped the creek, we collected any trash we found.  Empty plant pots, in a way, are waste produced from planting native plants; SOLVE recycles ALL plastic plant pots by returning them to the native plant nursery to be reused.

They also spent the day adding mulch to some newly planted baby plants and also helped place out plants to be planted later. They learned that some plants, like willow, like sun and wet soil and some like Douglas-fir, like higher, drier land.

They also spent some time in the sun during their lunch break… it was glorious weather until… it HAILED!  Many of the students are exchange students from other countries, and some were seeing hail for the first time: “Teacher! Teacher! Ice!”

Portland Lutheran, you all ROCK!

Oregon rain

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto

Portland Lutheran HS @ Beaver Creek on 2.28.2013

Portland Lutheran hopped off the Tri-Met bus, ready for a day of adventure at Beaver Creek.  It was pouring rain but then again we are in Oregon, right?

We kicked off the morning by clearing a hillside of pesky invasive Blackberry especially around a sensitive bog area!  This bog is a very important habitat for amphibians.   After we dug roots all over the hillside we planted 50 native plants such as Douglas Fir and Pacific Willow!


We ate our lunches in refuge from the rain as luckily, it began to stop!  Once we were fed and energized we were ready to take on willow staking and beaver caging in the afternoon!  We put 70 Willow and Dogwood stakes in the bog area to add native vegetation that will thrive in the wet environment.  We also caged 25 of our Willows and Alders from beaver damage along the stream.

It was a full day of activities and Beaver Creek looks great thanks to the hard work and dedication of Portland Lutheran!


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

Invasives, Natives, and Stream mapping, Oh my!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Members Lauren McKenna and Nicole Poletto

Portland Lutheran @ Beaver Creek 10/25/2012

Portland Lutheran students came out to Beaver Creek, lunch in hand, prepared for a full day of restoration activities.  It was hard to say which of the three stations the students were most excited for: stream mapping, invasives removal, or native planting!

Mr. Tarbell guided the students in collecting water quality measurements and GPS locations along the creek.  Some of the students plunged in the creek above their waders after falling in some underwater holes – at least it was a nice sunny day to dry off!

Another station was Invasives removal with Nicole (SOLVE).  An area upstream had been taken over by Armenian Blackberry, and it was up to the students to ensure that it didn’t come back!  Armed with shovels, the students determinedly pulled and dug the roots out.  Soon this area will be ready to be planted with native species thanks to Portland Lutheran!

The opposite of removing invasives is planting natives! Lauren (SOLVEwas ready with some native Plant ID and planting at her station.  Some students named their plants and prayed over them, ensuring that they grew big and strong!  Invasive Reed Canary grass was ripped out and replaced with natives that will grow tall one day and shade not only the creek but also shade out the invasive grass!

Invasive removal and planting in one day? Phew! That is a lot to take in!  The students reflected on the activities through poems, drawings, and writing while gazing at some native plants for inspiration.  One poem written by a student was:

Big Leaf Maple

The Big Leaf Maple seemed very small

The plant was worth nothing at all

And looking up now

You’ve got to say “Wow!”

‘Cause the tree’s become very tall

~ Anonymous

We had an awesome day with you Portland Lutheran! It is amazing how much difference one day of stewardship can make!

Water quality testing at the renovated Beaver Creek!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest Member, Nicole Poletto

It was a beautiful morning to check out Beaver Creek and conduct some water quality tests.  Last week, 40 snags (logs) were added to the stream – a 3 very expensive year project that finally came into realization!  These snags will be vital for salmon habitat and improving channel complexity.

We broke off into two groups for morning and afternoon shifts: Mr. Tarbell led stream mapping and Meghan and Nicole (SOLVE) led macroinvertebrate sampling.  During our lunch break on the beautiful shore of the Sandy, a blue heron even flew by to say hello!

The macroinvertebrate group played a game of riparian metaphors, reviewing why native vegetation in our stream bank is so important.  Then it was time to pull on boots and waders and hop in the stream to get some macroinvertebrate samples.  Students agitated a small area in front of a D-net downstream, rubbing off rocks and stirring the sediment to sample the insects that live in that area.  Boots were flooded, crayfish were captured, and water was splashed.

We brought the samples up to the stream bank to analyze what we found: mostly small minnow mayflies, black fly larvae, and green rock worms.  Water fights erupted in the hot afternoon sun and 4 crayfish were found minutes before it was time to hop on the bus!

Thanks so much for a beautiful day Portland Lutheran, we can’t wait to hear the results of your in-class data analysis!

East side green teamers reflect on their year of service-learning…

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Written by Meghan Ballard, Green Team Program Coordinator.

Students from SOLVE’s Green Teams on the East Side of the Willamette River joined together last week to share their experiences and the lessons they have learned over the past year.  Hosted at Clackamas High School, students were able to hear about each others’ research and time spent at the creek.

Matthew Collins, Education Director for Friends of Tryon Creek, joined us to talk about the importance of volunteering and how it has personally impacted his life and career choices.    Check out all of the different ways you can volunteer with Friends of Tryon Creek!

Ashley, Lindsey, Joel and Tanner from Gladstone High School started off the student presentations with information about invasive species at Rinearson Creek.  Sam and Katie joined us to represent West Linn High School and their work with stream bioengineering at Abernethy Creek. Portland Lutheran School students Lydia, Rachel, Abi and Arianna
shared their experience with the fun, slimy and smelly salmon toss on the Sandy River. Alexis, Ben, Jesse and Ryan presented on behalf of Clackamas High School and they shared some very interesting findings about their macroinvertebrate surveys of Mount Scott and Rock Creeks.  Fernanda, Kennedy, and Jake from Rex Putnam High School put together a documentary of their work this year at Boardman Wetlands. And students from the Sabin-Schellenberg Technical School gave their perspective on several tools they’ve used this year on invasive removal at Rock Creek.

Charlie(SOLVE) also introduced something new this year, the Clackamas Student Stewardship Award!  This award recognizes a special student or group of students who go above and beyond our usual tasks and contribute something extraordinary to SOLVE and the overall work we do as a Green Team program.  This year’s award was given to three outstanding art students, Chanel Karbonski, Kristy Younglove, & Ashley-Jean Gonzalez who have done AMAZING work transforming litter pulled out of Phillips Creek into beautiful and educational artwork, including the Tom McCall portrait below!

THANK YOU to all of the stellar students and teachers we have had the honor and privilege of working with this year!  It has been one of our most successful Green Team years ever and we are so glad you all were able to share it with us.

Thank you to the following sponsors, partners and friends who attended the summit and for supporting our work:

Amazing litter art!

Portland Lutheran’s Last Visit to Beaver Creek

Friday was the last time this year’s Portland Lutheran Green Team visited Beaver Creek in Troutdale. These kids are definite SOLVE all-stars and super-friends as they have come out to the Beaver Creek site once a month since October, each time spending a total of 5 hours restoring/exploring/learning about their local creek and watershed (most of our Green Teams come out an hour at a time).

This final visit, students first spent a little bit of time putting some finishing touches on the restoration projects they had been working on at Beaver Creek. Some plants they had planted in March needed some protection from the aggressively invasive reed canary grass that was threatening to choke the young native trees and shrubs. Therefore they staked down some biodegradable coffee sacks at the base of these plants to give the native planted plants some breathing room. After this little bit of work, it was time for a little snack from mother nature. Students tried various greens growing around them in the riparian zone such as miners lettuce and invasive garlic mustard, some of the braver ones even tried raw stinging nettle! Then students went on their favorite hike along the creek. Along the way they distributed newsletters which the students had written about their work and experience at Beaver Creek to local residents. This way the local community could understand what kind of work Portland Lutheran has been doing and why it is important for the health of the watershed. The day closed with all students working on an individual research project at Beaver Creek. Taking all of their experience in the last school year at Beaver Creek, students came up with a research question about the creek and designed a method for testing it. Students collected their data and are still working on their results this week. I look forward to hearing what kinds of things they discovered about this stream!

SOLVE and Beaver Creek really appreciate all of the hard work and enthusiasm that Portland Lutheran has brought to their visits this past school year. They definitely left a lasting impact in their community, and we look forward to working with you again next year.

A Little Restoration Before Relaxation with Portland Lutheran

For many schools in the Portland area, this week is spring break (wooo!) but before embarking on their week of vacation and relaxation, Portland Lutheran 7th and 8th graders came out for a visit to the beautiful Beaver Creek in Troutdale.

The morning was spent working on a community newsletter that we hope to pass out to the residents living next to and around Beaver Creek. Students composed poetry, essays, and drawings about their experience working at Beaver Creek. We will compile some of these pieces together into a newsletter so that the neighbors understand what Portland Lutheran has been doing at this site, why, and to encourage the local community to get engaged. We look forward to passing these out the next time Portland Lutheran comes.

Students also sampled the creek to see what kinds of aquatic macroinvertebrates are living there this time of year. (aquatic meaning water dwelling, macro meaning large enough to see without a microscope, invertebrate meaning a creature without a backbone, essentially a bug) Portland Lutheran also did this in September, during their first visit to the site. Back then, the stream was ankle-deep and it was easy to sample from the bottom of the stream. This time, the creek was more than chest deep and flowing very swiftly due to the rain and snowfall Troutdale recently has been having. Therefore we were unable to get samples from the bottom of the stream, but instead we sampled from what was living among the grass on the side of the stream. Despite the swift current and the murky water we still found a lot of life including mayflies, worms, water boatmen, a young crayfish, and minnows (okay so minnows are not technically invertebrates, but still cool!).

In the afternoon, everybody grabbed a shovel and hiked upstream about a half a mile to plant some trees at a restoration site along the creek that Portland Lutheran hadn’t visited yet. At this site, Beaver Creek flows through a beautiful canyon with small waterfalls and lots of lush plant-life. This Green Team of master planters got nearly 100 plants planted in record time and so we spent the rest of the time we had exploring and hiking around this beautiful site. Flowers were blooming, birds were singing; it was obvious spring had sprung.

What a wonderful beginning to spring break.

Portland Lutheran: Master Trackers

Portland Lutheran brought the sunshine to Beaver Creek in Troutdale, yet again this past Friday and they really took advantage of this beautiful weather by spending the entire day outside.

When they arrived, the water level of the creek, which can vary by the tens of feet, was low enough that they had the chance to do some unique activities. Since there was a lot of exposed sand and mud from the high water, there a record of all the wildlife that has been enjoying Beaver Creek (and enjoying the restoration efforts that groups like the Portland Lutheran Green Team have been doing) through all the animal tracks. About 93% of Oregon’s wildlife use riparian zones such as the one around Beaver Creek at one point in their life cycle, so we get excited whenever we have a chance to see who has been visiting our sites. Portland Lutheran students had the opportunity to make plaster casts of some of the prints that they could take back to the classroom and study further. From their observations, it appears that the beaver population is appropriately very active at Beaver Creek, as most of the prints they found were made by these xylophagous rodents.

Beaver Tracks!

When they weren’t searching for tracks, students planted trees, most notably, willow, in terraces on the bank that had been underwater during previous visits. The willow they planted can survive being completely submerged, and their root structures will be helpful in preventing the terraces from eroding away during high water events. Students also had the chance to start doing maintenance on the plants they had planted earlier in the year by mulching them. Putting a ring of mulch around newly planted plants will protect them from weeds growing right next to them, as well as provide protection from keeping the plants from being dried out in the summer – something especially important in the sandy soil at Beaver Creek.

As always we were very impressed with the students’ hard work, and their great attitudes during the 5 hours they spent out at Beaver Creek.

From Garbage to Art!

Once again, Portland Lutheran School brought sunshine, energy and enthusiasm to Beaver Creek today.  Students started their morning off collecting a substantial amount of litter from the banks of Beaver Creek, collecting over 10 large bags.  This effort stopped litter in its tracks, preventing it from flowing downstream to the Sandy River then the Columbia River and eventually to the Pacific Ocean.  Some students also saw two beaver out and about probably repairing a damaged dam from recent flooding!

As students sorted their litter findings they made a discovery – an overwhelming amount consisted of plastics!  Plastics are a real problem for wildlife at Beaver Creek, including our resident beaver family.  Birds and other wildlife mistake cigarette butts, bottle caps, and small plastic pieces for food that they are unable to digest, causing them to feel full when in fact they could be malnourished.

From the Surfrider Foundation:

Rain or overwatering flushes plastic litter through a storm drain system or directly to creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean.  After plastics enter the marine environment they slowly photodegrade into smaller pieces that marine life can mistake for food, sometimes with fatal results.  Ocean gyres concentrate plastic pollution in five main areas of the world’s ocean and various research groups are bringing back alarming data documenting plastics impacts.

Find out some ways you can rise above plastics here.

Students didn’t stop there!  Then they created some works of art by cutting up litter into small pieces and glueing them to a canvas.  Lastly, students removed blackberry and planted 50 native trees and shrubs!

Thank you Portland Lutheran!  Our two new beaver friends really appreciate you helping out their home!

The finished stream!