How to Keep Busy During this Challenging Time

Updated: Apr 16

The Volunteer Program is staying home to stop the spread of the COVID-19 for the next few months, which means in-person volunteer opportunities such as Stewardship Saturdays and the 2020 Paddle Team Training are postponed as we prioritize the health and safety of our community.

Our late-season stewardship projects at Wilkes Creek and Baltimore Woods will be rescheduled for this summer, and our Paddle Team training will take place in the summer as well. The Paddle Team training will likely be split into multiple trainings to keep groups smaller, which will also make it easier to fit into your post-quarantine schedule. We would love for you to join our 2020 Paddle Team as well as our watershed stewardship projects later this year!

Please stay tuned to our website and newsletter for rescheduled dates, and feel free to reach out to me, your Volunteer Coordinator:

But while COVID-19 may be keeping us all at home, there are still plenty of things you can do to make a difference for our watershed and engage with nature in your neighborhood while helping to “flatten the curve.” Here’s a list of suggestions.

By the way, it’s #NationalVolunteerMonth! If you take any of these quarantine-friendly actions, share a photo with us by tagging @ColumbiaSlough and #NationalVolunteerMonth!

1.) Create a backyard habitat/start a rain garden. Planting native plants not only provides habitat for songbirds and pollinating insects, it also helps improve water quality by reducing storm water runoff into the Columbia Slough. Keep an eye out for resources coming soon from our Stewardship program, including free plants to get you started!

2.) Disconnect your downspout. Is your downspout connected to a pipe that enters our sewer system, or does it release onto a paved area? One of the best things you can do for the Slough is disconnect your downspout so it flows into a rain garden or lawn, allowing the rain water to soak into the ground where it is naturally filtered. Check out this how-to from the City of Portland and these resources from the City of Gresham.

3.) Make your own green cleaner. Our watershed contains a subsurface aquifer that contributes 20% of Portland’s groundwater annually. You can help protect groundwater and surface waterways by learning to make a simple green cleaner. The instructions are listed at the bottom of this blog, thanks to Portland Water Bureau for this activity!

4.) Repair that broken appliance instead of buying a new one. More time at home can mean more time to learn new skills. Learning how to repair home appliances can be fun and prevents garbage from entering landfills. Check out YouTube for several DIY repair videos.

5.) Learn to identify backyard birds. It’s springtime and our neighborhoods are starting to fill with migrating songbirds. You can observe many bird species on neighborhood walks or from your own backyard. Check out this helpful article and learn to identify 11 of them! Then, do your backyard birds a favor by leaving out birdseed or nesting material.

6.) Write a letter to a public official about an environmental issue you care about. You can still make your voice heard from the safety of home. Take some time to learn about a local watershed issue and write a letter to an elected representative.

7.) Help out those most impacted by COVID-19. Many of those most impacted by COVID-19 are also those most impacted by environmental pollution in our watershed. Check out the PDX COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network for ways you can help others and request assistance, and stay tuned to our social media for more resources.

8.) Follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter. We’ll be sharing updates about how we’re adapting our programming, and you’ll be the first to know when we’re able to resume in-person activities. We’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Keep an eye out for announcements about rescheduled stewardship days and new dates for our 2020 Paddle Team training. We can’t wait to see you in person again!

Be well,

Rachel Walsh

Volunteer Coordinator


How to Make Your Own Green Cleaner


  • Spray Bottle

  • Water

  • White Distilled Vinegar

  • Masking Tape

  • Marker

  • Measuring Cups

  • Essential Oils (Optional)

  • Funnels

  • Measuring Spoons

  • Vegetable-Based Liquid Dish Soap


1. Combine in spray bottle:

  • 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar

  • 1/2 tsp. vegetable-based liquid soap

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1 drop essential oil (optional)

2. Put the top on the spray bottle and shake to blend.

3. Create a label for your bottle with masking tape and marker.

Check out this activity at Aquifer Adventure, our annual festival all about groundwater!

(Credit: Portland Water Bureau)


© 2020 by Columbia Slough Watershed Council