BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Tammy Schrader’s students from Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School are bringing an ecosystem back to life along Beaverton’s Willow Creek.
“The kids surprise me every day,” she said. “They’re very excited to come out here. They work really hard.”
The class is a small piece of SOLVE’s Green Team Program, with classrooms across the Portland metro area adopting a site and cleaning it up.
“They come out and they own it. They clear it, then they have a cleared space. They plant plants there,” said SOLVE program director Kristen Taylor. “That’s their home turf now, so they learn stewardship. A big part of SOLVE is instilling the legacy of stewardship.”
Since schools began the service learning program a decade ago, students have cleared dozen of acres of invasive plants and planted more than 40,000 trees around Portland.
The goal is to reintroduce native plants, which diversifies the food chain. Eventually, wildlife responds.
There is evidence the decade of hard work is paying off. Beavers were spotted in the area for the first time this year.
“They can actually survive in this area now. It’s actually suitable for them to live here,” sixth-grader Jalen Harper said. “When we first came here it was all covered in blackberries almost all the way up there, and then we did some cutting. When I came back here, it’s pretty much all gone.”
Eighth-grader Julia Lising said, “Before I came here I didn’t realize how bad invasive species were.”
She’s learned a lot more, too.
“We’re learning to help our community and we’re learning to make a difference because that way as we grow older it’s built in. ‘There’s a problem, I can make a difference,’ as opposed to, ‘There’s a problem. Can I make a difference?'”
The Green Team can come to your school. The entire curriculum is free of charge and SOLVE will even help the teachers get land-owner permission and tell you where to buy plants.