2013 Squam Conservation Intern Journal

The Squam Conservation Internship was a summer internship program that ran from 2012 to 2017.The volunteer internship provided hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities.  Interns served as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, worked toward the eradication of variable milfoil, engaged both youth and adults in environmental education, and performed other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction.

In November of 2017, the Squam Lakes Association kicked-off an AmeriCorps program that runs through all months of the year. The program is called the Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) and is modeled off of our summer internship program. LRCC members are the driving force behind the conservation efforts of the SLA. The program provides hands-on conservation work experience and numerous certifications over a broad range of areas, which ensures that LRCC members are capable of independently approaching a variety of tasks in the environmental conservation field. Members remove invasive species from the Squam watershed, manage and act as caretakers at our backcountry campsites, maintain the SLA’s 50+ miles of trails, educate the public on local and regional conservation initiatives, spearhead reports on conservation efforts, lead SLA volunteer crews and ensure the daily functioning of the Squam Lakes Association’s programs. 

Learn more about the LRCC program here.

To view the most recent journal submission, click here.

October 29, 2013

Anna

The annual SLA fall workday this past Saturday was the perfect opportunity to reconnect with SCI alums and local volunteers alike, meet the current interns (they gave us a run for our money!), and breathe some fresh autumn air while lending a hand to the season’s closing tasks with the SLA. Six out of the seven 2012 interns showed up to help out, and we couldn’t have been happier to be reunited on the lake! After arriving on Friday evening from all over the country and catching up over slices of pizza, we were ferried out to Bowman Island by Ian, Allie and Taylor, where I happily pitched a tent. The full moon was one of the most spectacular I have ever seen on Squam, and the night was crystal clear. What a treat!

Even better was waking up the next morning on the beautiful lake clad in its fall colors. We returned to SLA HQ for a breakfast and met some more local volunteers, and after packing a picnic lunch we set out in various directions to attack our task lists. Swim lines and docks were removed, fire rings were shoveled out and rebuilt, and a tent platform was redecked. This last task was especially fun for me as I never got the chance to build a platform when I was an intern. I quickly got the hand of swinging the hammer under Taylor’s watchful eye, and she showed me how to measure and space the planks to ensure an even surface. The 4 of us working together had it done in under an hour, and we broke for lunch.

With so much good teamwork, we finished our tasks early in the day and had plenty of afternoon time to relax before heading back out to Bowman for a campfire, group dinner and discussion facilitated by EB. Together, we talked about our experiences as interns and future directions for the SCI program, and shared ideas for SLA program development. It was great to weigh in on some of these points, and hear others’ thoughts. Before we got too sleepy, we convened at the campfire for a few s’mores before saying goodbye to Brett, Rebecca and EB. 

Another sparkling morning greeted us on Sunday, and we enjoyed a relaxed brunch on the island before heading back to HQ and going our separate ways. Needless to say, this weekend of work, play and catching up was enjoyed by all and we are all greatly looking forward to next year! Thanks to everyone at the SLA for organizing it, and to the other participants for making it the great experience that it was! See you all in 2014!

Anna was a Squam Conservation Intern durning the summer of 2012. She currently lives in Burlington, VT.

August 23, 2013

Kari

After three months of milfoil pulling, bathroom cleaning, trail working, swimming, wood bundling, camping, caretaking, dock fixing, water quality testing, wood splitting, tendering, and lake hosting, the Squam Lakes Association’s Conservation Internship has come to an end. While only time has ended our tasks, these duties are for the next intern to pick up and continue. The appreciation of the menial tasks will be further understood and passed on by future interns. Only they will get to experience what kind of work goes into conserving SLA’s public islands and Squam Lake’s water. As this is only the second year of the SCI program, there is high potential for an increase in efficiency. It is crazy to have just graduated in May, then to start an awesome internship that has sadly come to an end. This opportunity has been an unforgettable adventure that has taught me so much about what goes into environmental recreation and wetland conservation. I hope to bring what I learned here to a career opportunity in my future. For now, so long Squam! Your waters will be missed, but I’ll be returning next summer!

Kari graduated from St. Lawrence University this May with environmental studies major and an African studies minor. She is originally from Seattle, Washington.

August 22, 2013

Mayo

Visiting Squam year after year, I learn each time how unique this lake truly is. It is a place that is simply not understood by those who have not visited, which is a large part of its appeal for those lucky enough to enjoy it. Working at the SLA this summer has been a blast, but it has also been demanding. I now appreciate just how much work goes into keeping a lake like this so pristine and seemingly perfect. One of the great things about living on the lake is the surprises each day brings. This morning, I cleaned the composting toilets at SLA’s campsites for the last time. The task was less than ideal as I encountered a few minor problems with un-cooperative equipment and some displeasing stenches, but diving into the cool lake water and rinsing off after proved to be the best cure for my displeasure. This morning’s work is now but a distant memory and I am back to feeling so lucky to be able to enjoy and appreciate the odd rhythm of Squam. As I relish the view of the lake in the final hours of my summer, I am able to reflect on the wonderful memories I have made yet again in this exceptional place. As the SLA continues to grow and improve, I feel pride that I was a part of protecting and conserving the lake which I hope my family and friends will continue to enjoy in generations to come.

Mayo is from Charlottesville, Virginia and attends Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where she studies Biology and Environmental Science. She has been visiting Squam Lake every summer since she was born.

August 20, 2013

Ian

On a stormy, humid evening not even the bloodthirsty mosquitoes could dampen our spirits as we prepared to venture out Loon banding aboard the U.S.S. Calypso. The crew chattered with excitement as we cruised through the night, admiring the storm clouds just missing us to the north. Arriving at the mouth of Sturtevant Bay we crept in as stealthily as possible aboard a mammoth pontoon boat. Big Mike and Tiffany signaled to us to shut off our lights as they took off in their whaler and turned on their several million candlepower spotlight, scanning the surface for our quarry. We didn’t have to wait long before we heard the chick distress signal being used to lure in a large male accompanied by a young chick. Through binoculars the capture was monitored closely. Once the birds were safely aboard and under control they were brought back to the larger boat for processing. Skilled hands quickly took the desired measurements and blood samples. All the while trying to soothe the agitated bird and keep it as comfortable as possible. While the male never seemed to get entirely settled, the chick fell fast asleep after a few minutes of gentle caresses. After just a few minutes of captivity the birds were released back into their territory no worse for wear. Yet another phenomenal opportunity afforded me by this internship.

Ian is from Toledo, Ohio. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Environment and Natural Resources.

August 15, 2013

Zach

It’s hard to believe that the Squam Lakes Association Conservation Internship is nearly over. It seems that all the fun things in life pass by so quickly. I feel like just yesterday we were being trained, and now we’re all preparing for the next step in our career. Not only did I have a wonderful time this summer, but I have also realized that this internship has greatly helped with the essential preparation I will need to advance my Environmental Science career.

When people ask what I have done over this past summer and what I have learned through this internship, I prepare them for a long answer to that question. This is one of the most diverse programs I have ever been a part of, and to say the least, I have learned a plethora of both physical and intellectual skills.

Besides the trail work and interactions with many friendly campers, I especially enjoyed diving for milfoil. At first, it seemed like we could not keep up with this insidious plant, and our efforts were just a drop of water in this 6,700 acre lake. Now, after many dives and hundreds of gallons of milfoil removed, our efforts have become apparent. The compost bin that was once empty is now almost filled to the top with milfoil that was solely contributed to by the SLA interns. Now when we enter the coves and inlets that were once overwhelmed by milfoil we can see the difference that we have made. It’s a great feeling to know that with the help of SLA and its faithful contributors we have made Squam Lake a cleaner place to swim, boat, and enjoy. All the interns have taken great pride in this accomplishment and this rewarding experience will be with us for the rest of our life.

Zach is studying Environmental Science at Plymouth State University. He's from Westport, MA.

August 7, 2013

Ian

My dad has always told me that I’d enjoy sailing and I always brushed it off as something that probably wasn’t that much fun and I’d never get to do anyway. Oh how wrong I was. Learning to sail this summer under the tutelage of the magnificent Garr has been a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. I knew that this internship would provide a lot of amazing recreational opportunities for my days off, but I had no idea how much I would fall in love with sailing. There is no better way to enjoy the lake than feeling a strong breeze fill the sails and shoot you across the azure surface at a speed Garr describes as “you can’t swim that fast.” Cruising the lake in a motorized craft is fine and dandy, but it doesn’t come close to the connection you feel with the wind and water while sailing. Your eyes are constantly darting between the telltales and the surface of the lake, always looking for that next swell of pressure that will push your boat speed over the edge into warp drive. I love feeling the wind speak to me as I adjust the mainsail or gently shift the rudder. I may not be an expert at rigging a boat or executing a perfect tack, but I know that sailing gives me a feeling of euphoria that rivals cresting a mountain and looking out at a breathtaking view. After this summer I’m not sure when I’ll have another opportunity to sail regularly, so I’m going to cherish every moment I have out on the waves of this majestic lake.

Ian is from Toledo, Ohio. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Environment and Natural Resources.

August 5, 2013

Zach

As the summer carries on, the beauty of Squam Lake persists. Now that we have gained experience accomplishing our weekly tasks and scheduled events, things seem to be moving smoothly. It’s nice to be working in a rhythm with the knowledgeable staff at Squam who makes this operation possible. Between our coordinators and co-workers here at Squam Lakes Association, we have accomplished what it takes to make Squam an educational and enjoyable place to both work and play.

Prior to being a part of the Squam Lake Association team, I had no idea how much hard work and dedication is continually put into this organization. Having seen these efforts first hand, I can say I’m proud to be a part of what we do here at Squam Lakes Association. Just the other day while I was checking in campers I had a short conversation with a family on Bowman Island. To hear them thank me and appreciate what a clean and respectable place the Squam islands have been for their family to stay was very rewarding. I also thought it was interesting to find out that one of the campers has been camping at Squam with his family for the last 20 years.

I’m thrilled to have been given this opportunity to work here at Squam Lake Association. Not only have I furthered my career opportunities, but I have also met some great people along the way. As a future Environmental Scientist, I believe that Squam Lake Association team has done a wonderful job combining family and fun with an emphasis on preserving the beautiful environment that NH has to offer.

Zach is studying Environmental Science at Plymouth State University. He's from Westport, MA.

August 1, 2013

Lee

After a morning of bumper boating JSLA Olympians away from the moored sailboats in our cove I am assigned a small task that I am sure has been waiting on the long list of things needed to get done for quite some time. It is the rotted and heavily used ramp into the tool shed that has finally come to meet its salvation, becoming the envy of the many forsaken planks and dock boards that must hold together with all their fervor for a little while longer. Having no more guidance and direction than the point of a finger towards some boards of appropriate sizing among a pile of the previous inner workings of trees cut, shaved, and sized to shape; and a few soft spoken words I head into the shop to grab some tools. I pick out measuring tape and the adjacently lying pencil, followed by the saw, remembering to measure twice and cut once. I complete the toolbox with a hammer and plenty of nails, and then set off to work. The ramp is almost finished when I receive word of a camping mix up that needs the help of an SLA staff and as I am the only available intern I lay the hammer and nails down, pausing this project for now. As I grab my keys and head to get a lifejacket Brett reminds me of some work that needs to be done on the Bowman 4 dock and the tools that I had just left behind are now to accompany me out to the island. I resolve the mix up and send the campers happy and ready to camp to their proper sites and then make my way to the Bowman 4 dock, my second time working on it this week. I notice a few boards whose rot seems to have progressed to the point of destruction so I begin to remove the screws holding them down to make room for newer rot resistant boards. After replacing three of the four marked boards I make my way to the last plank and as I step onto the board immediately before the one I noted to be replaced the board cracks and my momentum and weight carries me down onto the dock. My foot cleared a way for my leg through the dock piece and I quickly realized that this is the piece in need of replacing. Laughing I pull myself up completely intact with no splinters, lacerations, or impaled nails to speak of. I quickly finish the last of the boards and load everything onto the boat to head back to the mainland, realizing my day will soon be coming to an end. Once I arrive back at the SLA headquarters I head to the shop with the determination to complete the ramp from earlier. After I complete that I look at my watch and notice I have but ten minutes to eat, pack, and make my way to the islands for the night. Another day done.

Lee just finished his freshman year at the University of Minnesota where he is pursuing a degree in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management. He grew up in Bow New Hampshire.

July 29, 2013

Allie

At the latest SLA event this past Friday, we were introduced to a multitude of people who love Squam as much as I have come to in these past few months. Seeing so many people come together to contribute to the SLA’s mission of protecting Squam for the public benefit made me realize something. Although we as interns do the brunt of the conservation work—the tough and sometimes less glamorous jobs such as cleaning composting toilets, the most important facet of the SLA is not the staff but the members and contributors who make our work happen. Without their passion for the region and for the lake, the SLA would not be the established organization that it is today, and I would not be here as an intern this summer. It is really encouraging to me to see so many different people who share this one special place close to their hearts come together. As I walked around rearranging chairs, handing out appetizers, and chatting with the people there, everyone’s energetic demeanor rubbed off on me. I couldn’t be happier to be in a job where the ones I work with are so passionate and have such a strong connection to the area.

Allie is a recent graduate of Plymouth State University where she studied Environmental Science and Policy with a focus in community engagement. She is from Scituate, MA.

July 24, 2013

Kari

We arrive at the Belknap Woods trailhead and pull the necessary tools out of the car. Having no idea what lies on the trail ahead is what makes the job exciting. Lee grabs the set of loppers, Taylor carries the spring rake and two portable saws, and I take the fire rake. These are the typical set of tools that we use for trail maintenance, which is usually a once a week task. SLA maintains 26 trails around Squam Lake. This is where the interns and volunteers get to work on a regular basis. As we begin our workday in the woods, Lee is immediately busy with lopping branches and small trees that could brush a passing hiker. These woods are home to a 90-acre forest with swampy areas and even some beaver ponds. As we continue on, we come to a Y where Taylor begins to rake 50 yards down the trails in both directions for better recognition of the intersection. We walk along the outer loop trail, continuing to lop and rake. I approach a pool of stagnant water in the middle of the trail and think over a strategy for forcing the water to drain. I decide to rake piled leaves and sticks that block the drainage. As soon as I begin raking, the water trickles down to the lowest point. Now that the water is moving, the puddle should eventually clear. After continuing, we come across a decent size tree that has fallen and is blocking the pathway. Excited to tackle the oncoming task, I remove the Bigboy saw from Taylor’s pack and begin the sawing motion. It takes no more than about five minutes to cut straight through the trunk. All together we grab the other end and line the trail with it. Unexpectedly, this trail has us busy at work, but when focusing on our own duties, I feel very productive. We are clearing and making trails easier to use for future hikers. It’s an accomplishment to work in a team that cleans up an entire trail for hikers to enjoy. This weekly job is just one among many that the interns accomplish for the public’s better enjoyment of the Squam Lakes region.

Kari graduated from St. Lawrence University this May with environmental studies major and an African studies minor. She is originally from Seattle, Washington.

July 22, 2013

Lee

Among the barrage of questions young children are asked is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” This question usually results in responses along the lines of a doctor, an astronaut, or maybe a firefighter. All of the careers that children fantasize to one day be their own are glorified in their minds as ones of helping people, discovering the unknown, or adventure. I myself gave into this notion wishing to be a doctor, choosing from a limited option of possibilities. However, if I were to have been given job descriptions for intermediary jobs to these three careers plus one for the Squam Conservation Internship (SCI) and asked which one I would want, I would undoubtedly choose being a Squam Conservation Intern. During the execution of eradicating milfoil, one of the main missions you are assigned as an SCI, you partake in all of those typical fantasies of a young child. Ridding the lake of an invasive plant that can cause a horrible amount of destruction is for the better good of the lake and in return helps people who enjoy and recreate on the lake. Plunging down into the depths is always a mystery and each dive is a discovery of the unknown that is followed by an adventure consisting of the challenge of avoiding entanglement from the towering pondweed or facing a massive largemouth in a standoff or finding old trash even spoons on the lake’s floor, hoping it’ll be treasure, all the while working to seek out the last of the cowering milfoil sheltering itself before its otherwise imminent coup of the aquatic subsurface terrain. I focus mainly on our mission of eradicating milfoil because that is our most threatening task that always needs to be kept at bay, yet all of our work provides exciting elements that I am glad I have been able to discover. Trail work consistently proves to be fun and rewarding, offering breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding area that appears wild and untouched by humans when peering down from thousands of feet above; an elevated escape from the troubles temporarily forgotten. While these mountains and trails owned and maintained by the Squam Lakes Association may be minor in comparison to those of the White Mountains, they are quaint and relatively untouched offering a wonderful simplicity that I have found nowhere else. It is like walking through a natural forest corridor unlike the trampled paths of the Whites. I am glad to be part of this organization and very pleased to contribute to its goals.

Lee just finished his freshman year at the University of Minnesota where he is pursuing a degree in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management. He grew up in Bow New Hampshire.

July 19, 2013

Dustan

We have been focusing a lot of our variable milfoil removal work in Grapevine and Bennett Cove the past couple of weeks, which we are now starting to see the fruits of our labor in these spots.  These two areas on Squam Lake were known to have thick infestations of variable milfoil and are practically milfoil free.  We should have taken before and after pictures of these areas to really show how big of a difference we have made.  Our scuba diving crews have gone from picking 100+ gallons to really stretching to get 30 gallons in these coves.  Hopefully the success in removing milfoil in these coves will help prevent the spread of it anywhere else in Squam Lake as we can now start to focus our efforts in Little Squam Lake.

Dustan comes from Kenosha, the biggest small town in Wisconsin. He currently attends the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point where he is majoring in Fisheries and minoring in Biology.

July 17, 2013

Kari

Through this internship, I’ve found that working on Squam Lake everyday has touched upon all of my senses. Whether I am paddling across its surface, diving beneath its swells for milfoil roots, slathering on sunscreen before a day of water quality testing, or guzzling a drink of water before checking in campers, this internship has stimulated my passion for environmental protection and conservation. Furthermore I feel very lucky and fortunate to have been able to clutch an opportunity quite like this one: a summer job that is devoted to conserving and educating a community about the beautiful and unique Squam Lakes region. More often than not I find myself learning something new on a daily basis from Brett or Rebecca or from my fellow interns that helps increase efficiency in our efforts for the lake. Naturally, some duties are more enjoyable than others. For example, when assigned to camp for the evening, we must complete odd jobs during the day. Sometimes this means lugging and then bundling wood in the sweltering heat, or cleaning each compostable toilet at every site- which can be slow and tedious compared to checking in and monitoring friendly campers who love to share why they camp on this particular lake. Nevertheless, I am always rewarded at the end of the day with a paddle to a swimming rock, reminding myself as I stroke through the refreshing water why all of these odd jobs and duties make a difference in preserving the region. We, as interns, are responsible for the detailed and practiced tasks that little by little help keep this lake region pristine and allow visitors the ongoing chance to return to enjoy it.

Kari graduated from St. Lawrence University this May with environmental studies major and an African studies minor. She is originally from Seattle, Washington.

July 15, 2013

Dustan

The time I have spent working at the Squam Lakes Association has been one of the best experiences of my life so far.  I feel especially lucky to be working along side my fellow interns, who are all pretty awesome.  This internship has allowed us to meet so many new and interesting people who all share a love for the Squam Lakes.  Its great to see the appreciation of the community for the hard work we put in keeping the Squam Lakes and the surrounding area looking beautiful.  Whether its removing variable milfoil, doing trail maintenance, or caretaking at the campsites people are always expressing their gratitude for the work we do keeping the area in and around the Squam Lakes looking pristine.  The beautiful scenery and wonderful people here will definitely make it a bittersweet experience when the time comes to leave in August.

Dustan comes from Kenosha, the biggest small town in Wisconsin. He currently attends the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point where he is majoring in Fisheries and minoring in Biology.

July 10, 2013

Taylor 

As a recent graduate and now as an intern for SLA, the question I get most often from a variety of folk is “What’s next?”  And my answer is always some variation of “I have no earthly idea what’s next!” My starting point – lofty ambitions in the field of aquatic environmental conservation and the desire for challenging work. But that leaves a lot up in the air. To which of the endless environmental issues should I direct my focus? Or more disconcertingly, will anyone actually employ me to test my mettle against those issues? Quite vague, isn’t it? And a touch unsettling to think my ambitions may go to waste... But drifting has its upsides as well. It leaves me open to opportunities and spontaneity and to pursue whatever sparks my interest. And I’m not alone in this state. I’ve found that the majority of my peers are adrift in the same boat. Perhaps it’s normal, but from my perspective (limited, of course) it seems that my generation more than others is inclined to wander. In general it’s easier now to travel and relocate, and many don’t have the pressures of early responsibilities or the preconception that they have to live a certain way. So we lay down the miles, searching for some happy niche, a place where we are needed. As long as you’re an optimist, it’s a pretty simple way of life. But you can’t forget in the midst of those hazy future plans to appreciate where you are now. I’ve never found that mentality as easy to come by as I do here at Squam. This internship is giving me all that I expected and more! A myriad of practical skills to push me on to the next career opportunity, the chance to get involved and solve problems, a beautifully engaging place to live, and friends. The future is exciting and I’ll keep planning for it, but I’m in no rush to leave.

Taylor  grew up in the rural Texas panhandle in the town of Perryton. She studied biology as an undergraduate at Baylor University in central Texas and continued on to an MS in Marine Environmental Protection at Bangor University in Wales.

July 5, 2013

Allie

Never a dull day here at the SLA. That’s one of the best parts of our job as Conservation Interns this summer. You can never complain about doing the same task everyday because our schedule shuffles so frequently. One day you may be SCUBA diving, the next repairing a dock or two, and another canoeing with kids out in the cove to discover wildlife. On the weekend you may be off to the campsites for caretaker duties, which is one of the most loved experiences by the interns. The variability is a welcomed challenge to get used to. It’s hard work but I couldn’t ask for a better summer internship—or a better group of interns! Some of my favorite moments however, are off the clock. Whether it is hanging out with the awesome Boat Rentals staff, taking out stand up paddleboards to swimming rocks, or going for a run up the steep Shepard Hill Road, I enjoy the moments where I can relax and enjoy the mountains and the lake. After a long day of work, one of the best rewards is jumping into the lake for a sunset swim, where everything just gets washed away by the water. Floating in the calm of the lake, I can’t help but feel grateful that the day is over and am excited for the next to begin.

Allie is a recent graduate of Plymouth State University where she studied Environmental Science and Policy with a focus in community engagement. She is from Scituate, MA.

July 2, 2013

Mayo

My wise mother advised me that life is all about figuring out three things: how to live, how to work, and how to love. In terms of my job here at SLA, I’ve got the love part figured out —I love this lake. I have done a lot of traveling, and have come to find that it is one of the most special places in the world to be. When I try to explain the lifestyle and the picturesque location of Squam, I always fail to capture it, and inevitably find myself saying, “You just have to be there.” Living has been a bit trickier to figure out here at SLA headquarters, but there is never a dull moment. Our living space is small and sometimes cleaning out the fridge is like Hercules’ task of cleaning out the Aegean Stables. Despite this, I have learned how to live with my new group of friends in the most interesting way. The working part I am still figuring out, and each day I come to work at the SLA, I learn something new. The skills I have acquired would amaze those who know me, since my job requires some of the most obscure tasks. One of Squam Lake’s charming yet challenging qualities is its navigation. Piloting through narrow channels and around shallow spaces has been a trying task even for those familiar with the lake. In addition to navigating above the water, I have been practicing my skills as a diver below the water. With Squam’s unpredictable weather patterns, I have learned to work in both ideal and treacherous conditions, and I learn something new about how to work underwater every time I’m down. I am confident that in my next two months, I will become even better at working, living, and loving Squam.

Mayo is from Charlottesville, Virginia and attends Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where she studies Biology and Environmental Science. She has been visiting Squam Lake every summer since she was born.

July 1, 2013

Taylor

I wake up, breathe deeply, and listen. Even though it’s early, light pours in our window, and the world outside has already come to life. Songbirds trill their morning melodies as I brush my teeth and go to the kitchen, weaving my way through the bustle of interns to grab breakfast and pack lunch for the day ahead – maybe diving to conquer a new patch of variable milfoil, maybe cleaning the surprisingly odorless compost toilets, maybe chatting with campers who always say the same thing – there’s no place like Squam. That fact is one of the reasons I love this job. All the work I do is to protect and preserve the beauty of this unique, already breathtaking scene. Whereas usually I question why I do what I do, constantly looking for the greater purpose (I tend to overanalyze), I have zero doubts that my work here matters. I mean, just think of the havoc that milfoil would wreak if we weren’t around! When work ends, I’m off for a paddle and a swim with my fellow interns, observing the intricate ecosystem beneath the water, scanning for milfoil fragments (constant vigilance!!), and watching curious pumpkinseeds gather around my feet to nibble on my toes (at least the fish seem to like the callouses that have grown there!). As I paddle back, the sun sinks over the western ridge of mountains, highlighting the clouds and their rippling reflections with hues of gold. And it starts again tomorrow.

If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal — that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself.  – Henry David Thoreau

Taylor  grew up in the rural Texas panhandle in the town of Perryton. She studied biology as an undergraduate at Baylor University in central Texas and continued on to an MS in Marine Environmental Protection at Bangor University in Wales.

June 23, 2013

Mayo      

A day in the life of an intern…

My friend the other day commented that my job at SLA pulling variable milfoil from the lake reminded her of the herbologist Professor Sprout cultivating Mandrake plants. Whilst underwater, my mind began to explore this idea, and I have come to the conclusion that being a Squam Conservation Intern is basically just like being a student at Hogwarts. The lake is a majestic setting where the interns get to use new tools and learn new tricks. The use of trail tools allows us to control trees and avada kedavra puddles, and instead of broomsticks we drive boats. Underwater, the DASH hose becomes the famous basilisk which we wrangle in and use to destroy the dark enemy—variable milfoil. This task is not as easy as it sounds, since the milfoil is prone to fragmenting, just like the preserved Horcrux fragments of Voldemort’s soul. Of course, with the helpful guidance of Rebecca McGonagall and Brett Hagrid, this band of students is invincible. We have made a happy home in our living quarters in the cupboard under the stairs, which is quickly becoming more like a house common room for us to wind down after long days of practicing magic on the lake. We have been equipped with the skills and the tools manage the lake and we will see through our mission to protect and preserve Squam.

Mayo is from Charlottesville, Virginia and attends Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where she studies Biology and Environmental Science. She has been visiting Squam Lake every summer since she was born.

June 22, 2013

Zach

My experience fulfilling the Squam Lakes Association Conservation Internship has exceeded my expectations. This might be an unpaid internship, but it’s full if priceless moments and ample opportunities. This hands on position combines practical field skills with one of the best outdoor settings New Hampshire has to offer. The diversity of this position builds upon many skills that are instrumental in any science or conservation career. This summer at Squam has not only been a blast, it has also been an integral building block for my career as an environmental scientist.

It’s important to have field skills and hands on experience when applying for future jobs and this internship has given me that and more. Whether we are collecting water quality data, interacting with campers, completing conservation work in the trails, or navigating the boat around the lake, we are constantly improving upon our personal and professional abilities. There are many great networking opportunities and I really enjoyed learning from the UNH professors during water quality collection and analysis. Beyond the professional aspects of this position, there are many ways to enjoy your personal time here on Squam.

There is no time for boredom on your days off because there is so much to do here, and in the surrounding area. I especially enjoyed taking a kayak out after work and casting my real into the calm and peaceful sight of a sunset. The fishing on Squam is great, and you can’t beat the scenery on this beautiful lake. There are also canoes and plenty of places to swim, snorkel, hike and bike.

If you love nature, being outside, and are looking for valuable field experience, than this internship is perfect for you. I’m thrilled to have been a part of SLA, and I look forward to integrating what I have leaned here with my future career as an environmental scientist.

Zach is studying Environmental Science at Plymouth State University. He's from Westport, MA. 

June 17, 2013

Ian

These first few weeks on Squam have flown by, but we seem to finally be settling into our normal routine. Getting to know the area has been a grand adventure so far. Waking up each day to such a gorgeous vista makes it feel like a sin to spend any stretch of time indoors. It’s a far more awe-inspiring sight than the rows of houses with neat and boring lawns that I’m accustomed to. After spending a few days on Lake Winnipesauke for Scuba training, I can definitely appreciate the slower pace of life on Squam. Everyone I’ve met out on the islands or around the SLA headquarters has been extremely friendly and very interested to hear about our intern duties. Removing milfoil has been a challenging yet rewarding task so far. The fish seem to be somewhat interested in our activities and venture fairly close to investigate. It can be a bit of a shock when you are diving and turn to see a large catfish only a foot or so away from your face. I’m hoping to stumble upon some lost treasure buried in the silt, but so far I’ve only been rewarded with an ancient golf ball and a shoe with a resident crawfish. The early indications seem to point towards a rewarding summer full of unforgettable experiences on a stunning lake. I’m definitely lucky to be here.

Ian is from Toledo, Ohio. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Environment and Natural Resources.