Time to Celebrate: West Side Student Summit

The hard work is over and now it is time to celebrate. Students part of SOLVE’s Green Team Program on the West Side of the Willamette have been working tirelessly all year- learning about riparian ecology and doing active stream restoration. They have spent many days in pouring rain, thick mud, and weaving through thorny blackberry to improve the health of their watersheds. Now, it was time to share our findings and accomplishments with one another, our funders, scientists in the field, and the entire community.

Students arrived in clothes very different from the usual muddy rain gear we are familiar with and we began listening to Meghan (SOLVE) welcome us to the event and thank us all for our hard work. Next, Sarah Pinnock, Wetlands Education Specialist at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, gave our keynote speech. She has a degree in Environmental Science from Marylhurst University.  She has been an educator and naturalist in the Northwest for 25 years, and has been a Wetlands Education Specialist at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve for almost 13 years. Sarah designs and delivers field science programs and traveling programs for schools and groups, summer camps, adult and family programs. She encouraged us to look for the thing we love doing and to never be afraid to pursue it. It was so great to hear her inspirational words of wisdom!

Next, students presented on topics of their choice from their year working with SOLVE. We heard about everything from how plants sequester carbon to how macroinvertebrates tell us about the quality of the water in our streams. We heard about the incredible amount of work students have done to remove blackberry, ivy, morning glory, Reed canary grass, and to plant native trees and shrubs and take care of them. As a whole, Green Teams on the West Side have planted 2,800 trees and shrubs this school year.

Then we headed out to the lobby to hear about summer internship opportunities and admire all of the incredible garbage art and writing reflections of fellow Green Team students.

Together, as Green Team students in the Portland-Metro area you all have demonstrated that the power of young, informed, and devoted students is unstoppable. Your willingness to learn about the rivers in your backyard and turn that information into positive change is absolutely unbelievable. This positive energy and eagerness to make a difference will truly make this world a better place- in honesty, it already has.

Thank you all so much for being a part of Green Team this year. Congratulations to all of you dedicated stewards of your streams!

Roots & Shoots Spread Environmental Awareness

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest Member, Gina Graziano 

It is one thing to understand a watershed, the importance of planting native trees and shrubs, and know the ins and outs of a site, but it is a whole other, wonderful thing to spread that awareness among a community. And we at Green Team believe there are no better voices to do that then the young, hopeful students who have been stewarding their stream over the entire school year! So, that’s exactly what Roots & Shoots did at Ryland Park.

First, students composed a very reflective, creative, and informative newsletter about their work at Council Creek and what it has meant to them. We put it all together with help from Meghan (SOLVE), and printed a very spiffy newsletter. We met up at Ryland Park to pass out this newsletter to community members on both sides of the creek. We hope the community enjoys reading these very inspiring updates about their neighborhood!


Roots & Shoots students, being the incredibly active and aware young people they are, thought this would be the perfect time to educate the neighborhood about storm drain runoff as well! We distributed door hangers with useful information and marked storm drains throughout the neighborhood to remind people that runoff does not simply go “somewhere else,” but right into Council Creek. With so much hard work done at the creek, we would hate to see it being polluted. It is also home to many native animals, like Red Winged Blackbirds, who never cease to sing while we are working in the wetland! Please do all you can to avoid pollution in storm water runoff.

Oh! As if that was not enough, students also picked up trash in the neighborhood to donate to Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School’s endeavor of making a garbage float for the Starlight Parade! This float will also increase environmental awareness and has made our creeks much cleaner.

Roots & Shoots, Council Creek is so much healthier because of each one of you incredible students. Your knowledge of environmental processes and issues will go far and we are so glad you shared it with us at SOLVE.

Thank you, Clean Water Services, for funding this project!

Sow Many Bugs!

Resources for Health Roots and Shoots came out to survey the macroinvertebrate population of Council Creek last week. We used a kick net to try to find bugs in the parts of the stream we could easily get to the bottom of. We put the bugs in a bucket and distributed them into white tubs for each of us to examine and identify. While we didn’t find much of a variety of bugs, we did find our share of sow bugs and really neat Case Maker Caddisflies which made their own organic shells out of Reed Canary Grass and other leaves.

Next, we uncovered and opened our leaf packs to see what had settled in. Yep…you guessed it, more sow bugs. Sow bugs are unfortunately not an indicator of especially good water quality. The absence of many other types of macroinvertebrates and the presence of so many sow bugs gave all of us pretty low Pollution Tolerance Indices. While we are at the tail end of winter, and may not have our largest population of macroinvertebrates in the stream yet, this information is still telling regarding the water quality of Council Creek.

Lastly, we took a gander at the creek through a brand new lens! We used our Aqua Viewer for the first time and got to see the rocks on the bottom of the stream perfectly, without a glare. It was neat to get to see what happens somewhere we usually cannot see!

We even saw some raccoon tracks out in the field while tromping around!

Hopefully with all of our new plants and efforts to keep them healthy and un-chewed by rodents, our stream quality will increase soon! It was interesting to get to see what lives in our stream. Thanks, Roots & Shoots for surveying the creek for us!

Last Saturday tree planting of the season! Join us!

Some hardworking members of Resources for Health Roots and Shoots Green Team!

Join us for the last community tree planting event of the season! On Saturday 3/31 from 9am – 12pm at Ryland Park in Cornelius several Green Team students from Resources for Health Roots and Shoots will lead their very own community event!  Come hear all about how hard these students have worked to enhance this very special wetland!

Register here !

Hope you will join us!

Reuniting and Reflecting at Council Creek

Stewards of Council Creek under the roles of Roots & Shoots members and young conservationists extraodinaires, reunited together after a restful couple of winter months. Upon reuniting, students continued to maintain our plants by securing coffee bags on the earth next to them. When a few students new to Green Team came to join us, other Green Team students explained our restoration efforts articulately and thoroughly.

Students then wrote a few reflections on their work at Council Creek. Students thought about the sorts of things in nature they refuse to see our society destroy, their favorite times near rivers, and more.

To wrap things up, we did a quick litter clean-up of the site to try to bypass the trashes and plastics at Council Creek from going any further downstream.  Students continued working passionately throughout the entire activity to help save their watershed. We are looking forward to future endeavors in macroinvertebrate sampling and much more!

Fall Back to Planting with Roots and Shoots

On Tuesday, our Resources for Health Roots and Shoots Green Team met at Ryland Park in Cornelius to start planting some much-needed trees and shrubs along Council Creek.

Council Creek has received a lot of pressure from agriculture and urban development and as a result, the riparian habitat has turned into an open grassy meadow choked with reed canary grass. This invasive robust grass has been growing so densely and tall (over 9 feet!) that there is no chance for any native woody plants to even have a chance to take root and start growing.  This very degraded site will soon be home to over 2,000 new trees and shrubs that will be planted there this year by community groups and Green Teams alike. With their help we can transform this desert of a wetland into a thriving biodiverse riparian community.

Our Roots and Shoots Green Team got the season’s planting off to a nice start as we planted over thirty Sitka willow plants along the creek. The dense root mats from the grass and the sticky mud made things a little difficult but this Green Team didn’t care! They took on the mud head first, literally, and found a lot of humor when the ground “spoke” as holes were dug and the sounds of the suctioning mud rang throughout the site. A pair of Red-Winged Blackbirds nesting at the site also found some good humor in the work and decided to sing some beautiful songs and show off their displays for the very diligent and hard workers.

We are very excited for the potential of this site and the hard work of the Resources for Health Roots and Shoots Green Team have gotten off to a great start!

Roots and Shoots Saving Native Plants

After regrouping from our continued excitement over meeting Dr. Jane Goodall, our Roots & Shoots Green Team gathered for our first visit to Council Creek at Ryland Park.

We reviewed the basic concepts of Riparian Corridors though a fun metaphor game involving silly objects and very creative thinking.  We talked about the ways in which native trees and shrubs have varying and complex root systems that will help hold our soil in place and prevent erosion.  We talked about reed canary grass, why it grows so persistently and how we can work to remove it from Council Creek.

Then we were off!  Students and parents learned the proper techniques of lying down and staking in coffee bags to save our native species plantings and we got to work.  We must have saved at least 100 native trees and shrubs in our time together.   SOLV staff really appreciates the energy, enthusiasm, and deep care for the environment this group possesses and we are so excited for our next adventure

In the Shadow of Dr. Jane

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Green Team Coordinators Gina, Meghan, and Charlie had the once in a lifetime opportunity to join one of our Green Teams, the Resources for Health Roots and Shoots group, to Salem last Friday at the Oregon Roots and Shoots Convention (for more information on Roots and Shoots go here).  The definite highlight of the day was when Roots and Shoots founder, Dr. Jane Goodall, the celebrated naturalist, peace activist, and inspiration for all women in science, arrived. Dr. Jane personally visited with each Roots and Shoots group and watched each present to her about their various projects to combat ecological and social injustices in their communities. The Resources for Health group from Beaverton did an excellent job sharing with Dr. Jane about their H2Origami, sending letters on the backs of aquatic origami animals to convince the governor of Oregon not to allow Nestle to put in a water bottling plant in the Colombia gorge. Dr. Jane was very impressed and even connected them with another group of people in Chicago who are using similar tactics to stop the bottling of water in their community.

Before Dr. Jane left, Gina, Meghan, and Charlie managed to snap a photo with our hero, Dr. Jane, and she passed off some wonderful wisdom to us: “Make sure they are having fun,” she noted, “People always work hard when they are having fun!” Thanks Dr. Jane! We are really excited to begin leading our Green Teams out into the field to really improve our local watersheds, and we are sure going to continue to have fun be a high priority for all our Green Teams!