2014 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.

September 2, 2014

Caroline H.

On our last night at Squam, the five interns who hadn’t left yet (plus our intern manager Ian) all decided to go out to check in campers together. Going to the sites together is something that we hadn’t done since the beginning of the summer when we were learning how to do camping duties.  It was nice to finish off the summer the way that we started it: together. All of my favorite memories from this summer are from times when all of the interns were together. From the barn dance on I love Squam Day to days when we went on trips together to nights when we cooked group dinners, I enjoyed every minute that I spent with my fellow interns.

My advice to next year’s conservation interns is to spend as much time as you can together.  Take advantage of the days at the beginning of the summer when all 8 of you are on the same schedule. Even if you’re tired at the end of the day, make time do do something together, whether it be sailing, kayaking, going out for ice cream, or even just cooking dinner together. Take time to explore the area together. Squam is an amazing place, and it becomes even more amazing when you experience it together.

Caroline is from Manchester, NH and is a rising senior at the College of the Holy Cross pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies. Check out her full bio here.

August 25, 2014

Emily

As our last big shebang as interns at the Squam Lakes Association we went on a canoe paddle down the Baker.  This was a great group bonding activity that was full of adventure, splashing, and delicious dessert.  That trip made me realize how full circle everything has come this summer.  For example, at the beginning of the summer intern Jake flipped his kayak.  Then, there at the Baker river, where we all believed it could not be done, he flipped again!  This lead to much laughter and appreciation for life on everyone's part.  I believe I have also gone full circle.  Originally, I approached this internship excited and nervous for what the summer held.  As time went on I got gradually more confident and skilled.  Now, I can say I possess the everyday skills of scuba-diving in zero visibility, driving a boat similar in both size and speed to a large cargo barge, and working in both extremely hot and cold conditions- sometimes within the same day.  While these may not seem like everyday skills, I am sure the confidence I gained by completing each difficult task will help carry me through my junior year of college and hopefully into a conservation career, much like my hero Jane Goodall's, beyond that.  What appeared like the impossible, perfect, and endless summer is finally coming to a close and I can definitely say I am the better for it.

Emily is an upcoming junior at Hanover College in southern Indiana and is a Biology major with a double minor in Environmental Science and Sociology. Read her full bio here.

August 13, 2014

Ian

As I sit here writing my final intern journal, I cannot help but feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to spend 3 wonderful months preserving the environmental integrity of the Squam Lakes Region. Long days of pulling milfoil or splitting, stacking, and bundling wood have given me important perspective into the world of conservation work. The work is by no means a walk in the park. On the ninety-five degree days when you are tossing and unloading 5-10 pound chunks of fire wood in a sweat drenched shirt, it can be easy to second guess the work that you are doing. The Beatles song, I Get By with a Little Help From my Friends is especially pertinent to my time spent on Squam this summer. I could not imagine these past months without the support and friendship of the seven other interns and all the other staff at SLA. An after-work sail with Garr or an evening of brookies and rainbows on the Mad River with Erik and Jacob. An early morning of fly fishing on the Newfound with EB or rainy camping leading to s'mores around a camp stove. Re-handling a maul with Brett and Ian C. or dancing on the milfoil compost with Rebecca. These are just a few of the memories gained during my time spent at the SLA that I will certainly cherish for a lifetime. I am very fortunate to have spent 3 months in such a special place with such special people.

Ian is from East Corinth, Vermont. He's studying Fishery Biology at the University of Vermont. Click here to read his full bio.

August 11, 2014

Jacob

I could not have asked for a better experience being with the Squam Lakes Association this summer.  Moving to New Hampshire has been my first extended period away from Wisconsin and has been a great adventure.  We as interns have learned a lot through our mentors Brett, Rebecca, and Ian but that is only a small portion of the knowledge that I have gained since being here.  New experiences are everywhere.  Opportunities spring up through the people that you meet and by finding them on your own.

I have always enjoyed hiking but hiking through the mountains is another level.  Squam Lakes Association has a program called the Squam Rangers.  Hike all of the trails that SLA maintains and you become a Ranger.  This includes hiking 26 different trails equaling just about 50 miles. From the beginning of summer I decided I wanted to accomplish this and made it happened.  On the trails I have seen bears, nearly run into porcupines, and made friends with some curious squirrels. I currently have just one more loop to finish.

On the water, fly-fishing has been my new favorite hobby.  Thanks to intern Ian I have picked up fly-fishing quickly.  Not only have I learned how to fly fish but also tie my own flies!  Pulling trout out of the Mad River and monster bass out of Squam with your own bait trumps everything, although, sailing is a very close second.

Sailing is like playing with the wind.  I am still in awe whenever I get a chance to go out sailing.  I have only learned a small bit since being here but going out with the crew to lasso up some wind gets better every time.  Without moving east I may have never experience the power of wind.

The Squam Lakes region has been my first steps onto a long road.  What I have learned hear can never be forgotten but only excel me into the future.

Jacob is from Wisconsin and just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a degrees in fisheries and biology. He will join the Peace Corps in Africa this winter. Read his full bio here.

August 7, 2014

Kendall

One of the best parts about this internship is camping on the islands for the weekend. It's a nice break from the seemingly never-ending weekday schedule of 10 hour dive days or camping days. Weekends on the islands are the best because you're out there for 3 consecutive nights without having to travel back and forth, you get much needed alone time (because living in a house with 7 people does have its trials), and you get to be closer to the natural world around you. The biggest perk for me is the amount of free time there is to read, which in the real world seems like there is never enough time to sit down and read a book. This summer I've finished more books than I probably read in the entire last year. For a bookworm like me, a typical weekend might look like this: driving out to the islands with the caretaker on the other island, checking campers in, eat dinner and read until I fall asleep, wake up and make breakfast and read, maybe take a morning paddle, walk half the islands trails with the rake and loppers, come back and read for a few more hours, eat lunch, walk to the beaches to make sure no shenanigans are happening, meet up with the intern on the other islands and spend some time in the sun or in the water, make dinner, check campers in, walk out to sunset ledge and read and watch the sunset (which are incredible), read and go to bed. And pretty much repeat the next day... two weekends ago on Bowman, I finished 3 books. The library in Holderness has an awesome selection despite its size, and for forgetful people like me, no late fees! The weekends on the islands for me are a chance to refresh and renew, to escape reality with a good book.

Kendall is from Maryland, but spent her college years at University of Redlands in Southern California where she majored in Environmental Studies and Latin American Studies. Read her full bio here.

July 31, 2014

Erik

As I reflect on my internship here at the SLA I look back on all the work we’ve done and I’ve realized that every little bit of it has an effect on the conservation of Squam and its watershed. Obviously the removal of variable milfoil is allowing the resurgence of native plants back into coves where once grand forests of milfoil shaded out any native plant trying to make a living. This summer we have surveyed and pulled only a couple of gallons of milfoil from Grapevine Cove, a place where hundreds of gallons were suctioned away by last year's interns. When I dive there now, it doesn’t even look like there was an invasive problem because of how well established the native plants appear to be. But enough about the conservation within the lakes, how does wood splitting and bundling wood relate to conservation work?

The interns and I have split, stacked, bundled, transported, and burned so many bundles of wood this summer, and it is so easy to forget that is a huge conservation effort. Splitting wood and stacking used to be a way for me to help my grandfather out back in Connecticut, but now I look at it as more than just heat for the winter time. By breaking these large chunk of wood down into smaller chunks, and then breaking these smaller chunks into even smaller pieces we are conserving the island forests and soils.  If we didn’t supply wood for our campers daily then they would be more inclined to chop down trees on the islands. The removal of trees would remove habitat space of mammals, many birds, and increase forest fragmentation. Campers would also remove more branches and logs that otherwise would be naturally decomposing and adding essential nutrients back into the island soils. I could only imagine what Moon and Bowman Islands would look like if we weren’t supplying all these bundles on a regular basis.

I’ve been very appreciative of my time here and look forward to these last couple weeks. I’ve learn a lot about being a conservationist and what it takes. And so the next time I help my grandfather out with his wood pile, I’ll be thinking about all the bundles back in Squam.

Erik is from Connecticut and studies Aquatics and Fisheries Science at State University New York: College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Read his full bio here.

July 28, 2014

Field

Two months in and this internship seems like it has only been a moment. It has all been one moment, frozen in time. I have been told that this single moment is coming to an end though, a rumor that there is only one month left until we return to the realm of the real world. From what I remember, this was a world where I had professors instead of Brett and Rebecca, T.A.'s instead of Ian Cullison, and where I had 5000 classmates instead of 7.  This was a world where I had classrooms instead of mountain tops and libraries instead of lake bottoms, where I typed essay's instead of pulling milfoil and slept in a house with a bed instead of a tent with a sleeping bag. I am currently trying to envision life after Squam, and I am imagining something similar to culture shock. I already miss watching the sun go down on my Bowman Island perch, getting lost In forests of milfoil, and doing man stuff like driving trucks and chopping up wood.  I'm not really sure how to end this entry without getting sappy, so I wrote a haiku.

silts ooze through my toes
crispy breeze brushes my face
sun melts on my skin

Field hails from Rhode Island and is majoring in environmental science and policy with a minor in both geography and anthropology at Plymouth State University. Click here to read his full bio.

July 24, 2014

Caroline S.

Fifteen Ways to Get Extremely Attached to Your Job at the SLA:

1. Take your job as island caretaker very seriously. Rename job title "Protector of the Realm."

2. Bond with local wildlife. When you see turtles-on-turtles outside your cottage, you should probably try to love them. [See picture] Or you can take the difficult-to-master Jake approach of the two-hour selfie photo shoot (while everyone else watches in stitches from the living room window).

3. Cultivate an artistic appreciation for Brett's mullet.

4. Forego the use of a watch in favor of loon-biologist-Tiffany's punctual 8:45 am daily arrival.

5. Master all the types of composting which occur on the SLA job. Then expand the acceptable range of uses for the word "compost". E.g.:
Jake: "I'm gonna go compost downstairs."
Erik: "Nah, man, please don't. I'm taking a shower."

6. Use the diver-okay symbol for anything and everything.

7. Discover berry-caches behind EB's car (thanks, Brett) and then harvest enough for a thousand years of triple berry pancakes.

8. Find Rebecca wide-eyed and guilty-looking in the gear room holding a baby bird.

9. Throw the Lil Whaler into neutral on your way back from the islands after a night of camping; watch the sun rise from the middle of Squam Lake at 5:15 am.

10. Get so close with boat rentals staff that you can't stand the thought of being done bundling firewood. (Side note: refer to bonding while bundling as "bondling.")

11. Drive around Squam Lake in the truck with Brett and other interns, and listen to Brett talk about the old Native American portage routes between Squam and Winny and other nearby lakes.

12. Compare milfoil-nightmares with other interns.

13. Get recognized in town as local heroes. "Heyyyy, it's the SLA interns! Keep it up, guys!"

14. Have a stranger walk up to you with a "thank you" and a tray of hot blueberry muffins while you're Lake Hosting.

15. Wake up on a work day after two days off, listen to the geese and the loons announcing the morning, crack open one of Brett's backyard-fresh duck eggs, and bound across the walking bridge for another day on New England's finest playground.

Caroline attends Vanderbilt University, and is working toward a double-major in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. She is from Pittsburgh, PA. Read her full bio here.

July 17, 2014

Caroline H.

A friend once told me that the key to finding happiness in life lies in the way you perceive the things that you do and the things that happen to you. When it comes to performing unpleasant tasks, simply thinking “I get to do this” rather than “I have to do this” makes them seem much more bearable.  Before this internship started, I thought that I was going to have to use this strategy to get through some of the intern duties.  Luckily, I was mistaken. From diving to checking in campers to lake hosting and even to cleaning toilets, everything that I have done so far has been incredibly fun. Until yesterday morning, that is.

Yesterday morning, Kendall, Brett, Ian C, and I had the lovely job of emptying everything out of the bottom chamber of the composting toilets on Moon Island. When we were first told what we were going to be doing, I was slightly horrified. In spite of the fact that I knew that the contents of the toilet were already broken down and would more closely resemble soil than human excrement,the thought of shoveling them out and carrying them to our compost bins was definitely not a pleasant one. Immediately, I began thinking of how to put a positive spin on what I was about to do. What I finally settled on was this: I get to help eliminate human waste and add nutrients to the soil that will help support the ecosystem on this island.

However, soon after we began, I realized that once again, my strategy was not necessary.  Not only was our job far more pleasant than I originally thought it would be (all of the material that we removed really was basically soil), working as a group made it a lot of fun.  As Brett kept telling us, “Everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.”

Caroline is from Manchester, NH and is a rising senior at the College of the Holy Cross pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies. Check out her full bio here.

July 16, 2014

Emily

Dear Future Interns,

You may be wondering what really to expect when you come to Squam for the summer. I want you to be prepared to live in a house of eight people, who you will simultaneously love and want to injure on some occasions for eating your food. Be prepared for hours cleaning composting toilets that sometimes malfunction or overflow, leaving you sweaty, dirty, and tired. Always bring your bathing suit with you for occasions like this. Be prepared to be scared camping alone for your first time and frustrated when you realize the scary noise making you sweat was actually a squirrel on Moon Island. Many challenges will arise, it will seem as if everything is going wrong. That is because it is. This job is challenging, but by the end of the summer you will have everything down pat. If something happening does not make sense, I would assume it is a test- don't worry, you won't fail. Scuba diving is both fun and tiring, you need to pack a hearty lunch for the day, then some snacks, then a second lunch, and some money to buy some more food just in case. You will see variable milfoil long after you are done pulling it... in your dreams, in the 4th of July fireworks, or randomly as you are driving through the lake. It never leaves you. Be prepared for late nights talking with your friends, star gazing, and watching old movies. Know that there are many ice cream resources in the area and you do not have to take advantage of them all. Although, you probably will, and it will be worth it. Be prepared for beautiful sunsets after a tiring day, early morning swims, and delicious food from friendly campers. Be ready for exhilarating sailing adventures at a moments notice, abundant puppies to play with, and lazy days spent reading. You will fall in love with Squam, there is no doubt in that. Remember, you are very lucky to have this opportunity, even if you are not coming home with pockets of money. Instead, you will easily have one of the best summers of your life.

Best Wishes!

Emily is an upcoming junior at Hanover College in southern Indiana and is a Biology major with a double minor in Environmental Science and Sociology. Read her full bio here.

July 12, 2014

Ian

Today happened to be one of the most exciting and rewarding days that I have spent as an intern for SLA for a number of reasons. It started bright and early at 7 am, as Kendall, Caroline H, Ian C, and I loaded the dive boat with all the necessary equipment for a 10 hour day on the lake pulling milfoil. A piping hot cup of coffee and appreciative waves from other boaters as we drove towards our first milfoil removal destination at Asquam Marina gave me the necessary motivation to slip into my wet suit (still soaked from diving the day before), assemble my scuba setup, and finally fall flippers first into the frigid morning water. After 2 hours and several gallons of harvested milfoil, I triumphantly emerge from the depths feeling proud to have been a part of the eradication of milfoil in Squam. Soon after, our dive team is summoned by Rebecca to the Ashland Town Forest where she is teaching a group from the Forest Service's Youth Conservation Corp about the basics of identifying and surveying for milfoil. A few of the YCC volunteers came aboard the dive boat, and we were able to demo the DASH (Diver Assisted Suction Harvester) system and share some of our milfoil knowledge gained over the last 2 months. It was inspiring to be able to pass on this information to a group of younger, conservation-minded individuals. Next, we surveyed the entire Ashland Town Forest to no avail for milfoil (thankfully), and found only a few plants after we ate lunch across Little Squam at Evans Cove. We parted ways with the YCC after this and pulled milfoil at 2 more locations on Squam before heading back to the SLA headquarters with our heads held high and over 40 gallons of harvested milfoil.

Ian is from East Corinth, Vermont. He's studying Fishery Biology at the University of Vermont. Click here to read his full bio.

July 10, 2014

Kendall

I want to share about the best day I've had here so far. It does not pertain to our job here specifically, but to the place and the people here on Squam. (But as a side note, scuba diving is my most favorite thing we do here!) On June 21st, the summer solstice, Caroline S. and I had the day off. After a slow morning, we went on a short sail with Garr, which has been an awesome opportunity, as Garr is always willing to show us the ropes (or in this case, lines…) We then decided to kayak out to the islands to hang out with the interns camping, and on our way to the boat launch saw Caroline H. and told her to come with us. The three of us then head out of Piper Cove on SLA kayaks, and made our way out to Moon. It wasn't the calmest afternoon, and the water was pretty choppy, but we made the 45 minute paddle, and Caroline S. was so happy and giddy that she couldn't stop smiling. We met up with Erik on Moon, and then soon Ian S. joined us from Bowman and Jake had also kayaked out from the SLA a little later. We set up a slack line, ate all of Ian's flavor blasted goldfish, and just hung out and talked and bonded and had a really good time. The camaraderie we've fostered by working together and living together has been a side benefit to this job all on its own. All too soon, it was getting late and the kayakers (as Field would like to say, the 'yakers) had to start getting back before dark (although since it was the longest day of the year, we didn't have to leave until 830). This was the best part of the entire day. The four of us, me, the Carolines, and Jake, began paddling as the sun just passed over the hills. The sunset that followed was absolutely beautiful, beginning with orange and yellow and slowly changing to pink and purple. At one point, one by one, we all stopped paddling, an unspoken tribute to the beauty of Squam. It was a magical moment as we all sat in silence and admired the colors. With the pink sky as our backdrop, we made our way back to the SLA, certain of our decisions to spend the summer here.

Kendall is from Maryland, but spent her college years at University of Redlands in Southern California where she majored in Environmental Studies and Latin American Studies. Read her full bio here.

July 4, 2014

Jacob

Wow! It is already half way through the summer.  The Squam experience has so far been everything I had hoped and more.  Diving, wood splitting, trail work, and camping- it couldn’t be better.  This past weekend was my first time being an island caretaker.  I spent three nights on Bowman Island, which was such a treat.  Getting out of the house for a few days was exactly what I needed to clear my head.  Everyone I live with is amazing, but it can feel congested at times living in a house with eight people.  Being alone on the island was a great escape.  Although, staying in the Bowman cabin is a bit eerie.  In my mind, this cabin sets the perfect scene for a Friday the 13th film.  There is even an old rusted machete stuffed away in the corner.  Creepy, I know, but I survived.  When staying out on the islands we clean bathrooms, maintain trails, check in campers and make sure everything on the island is running smoothly.  The best part about caretaking is going around to each of the sites and greeting all of the people staying on the island.  Friendly faces are everywhere, and everyone is always excited to strike up a conversation.  Speaking of Friday the 13th!  One family invited me to stay and have dinner with them.  Oddly enough they went to college with the man who wrote the screenplay for the original Friday the 13th movie!  The family treated me to beef stroganoff and some of the best peach cobbler I’ve ever had the pleasure of savoring.  Cobbler cooked over a fire makes it taste just that much sweeter.  Following dinner I was in for a surprise.  One of the women at the site pulled out a giant bag of marshmallows and called out, “alright time to play chubby bunny!”  I never thought my first time playing chubby bunny would be with a group of middle-aged folks but I would not have had it any other way.  I laughed until I was red in the face.  After admitting defeat to the apparently chipmunk-cheeked pros, we talked into the evening like old friends.  As night fell I finally retreated to the ominous Bowman cabin with a large grin, a Tupperware full of leftovers, and the images of marshmallows mashed into mouths still in my head.  What a great night to end a wonderful weekend.

Jacob is from Wisconsin and just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a degrees in fisheries and biology. He will join the Peace Corps in Africa this winter. Read his full bio here.

July 3, 2014

Erik

This past Friday, all of the interns, and some of the SLA staff attended the New Hampshire Lakes Congress. Here we learned a lot about the impacts that aquatic invasive species have on bodies of water all over New Hampshire. It was an eye-opening experience overall just to hear the horror stories of variable milfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, and other invasive nuisances. The conference started early in the morning and when we arrived we were greeted by Tom O’Brien, the president of the New Hampshire Lakes Association. He gave us a warm welcome, and then, once we all exchanged friendly handshakes we dove into the free breakfast. I think some of us forgot others were watching and our animal instincts took over as we stood over the pastry table. Mr. O’Brien came up to the podium as the keynote speaker. Towards the end of his talk he spoke about the Squam Lakes Association interns and began to compare us to his children; sleepy eyes, scruffy faces, and he commented on how we were going to town on the buffet this morning. Then he told the room to look over to our table full of our blue staff shirts, and to thank the next generation of environmental and conservation leaders. The entire room then began to applaud the work we were doing to eradicate the variable milfoil in the Squam Lakes. The round of applause was a heartwarming and motivational moment for me. We had recently just gotten into the swing of our dive days and other duties, and training was finally over. This moment let us know that the hard work has truly paid off and we have already made a difference even though there’s still two months left of work. The rest of the day was filled with conversations that were started by participants saying “Are you one of those Squam interns?” Business cards, handshakes, and laughs were exchanged the rest of the day, and we all walked away from the conference learning something new. Oh, and I forgot to mention, when it got to be lunch time again, our animal instincts kicked in again.

Erik is from Connecticut and studies Aquatics and Fisheries Science at State University New York: College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Read his full bio here.

July 1, 2014

Field

The dive approaches. Sitting on the edge of Millie, I go through the mental checklist etched into my mind. my wet suit, boots and hood wrap my body like a second skin. I have blue flippers on my feet, an inflatable vest around my chest with an air tank strapped to my back; sometimes I pretend its a jet pack that could fly me far away from the chilly depths of the lake but then I remember that there is no milfoil in the clouds. I carefully place my goggles over my eye bones until it feels just right, then push them in place feeling them suction around the symmetrical angles of my face. I stare down into the dark and glassy lake, and only my modified silhouette glares back. I am dreading the cold water, even though I know it is not that bad. With the regulator in my mouth, my left hand on my mask and my right hand on my weight belt I awkwardly yet gracefully plop into the water. Cold liquids shoot up my sleeves and down my back as I swiftly bob on the surface. I give Kendall the standard fist bump to the crown of my head, signaling that I am okay, and she responds with a firm "THANK YOU DIVER!" And with that, I am off. I spin onto my belly and begin letting air out of my BC, dropping to the depths of the mission at hand: the eradication of the invasive and insidious Myriophyllum heterophyllum (A.K.A. variable milfoil). I attempt to stay balanced in the water column, then shove off in search of my prey. From here on out, slow motion. Any sudden kick or crash the the lake floor can lead to articles of sediment particles to float around in my vicinity, causing my vision to be clouded and ultimately making me inefficient in my duties. Inhales sound like Darth Vader, followed by an exhalation of bubbles. I frog kick my way across the lake floor, scanning back and forth when I spot the billowing green tails dancing in the water column. I release some more air from my buoyancy compensator and meet the plant at its base. I grasp the plant by its neck with one hand, then start digging beneath with the other to find the roots. The sediment is a bit compact, so I begin to tickle it, pulling the plant up as I lift it from the lake floor, and with it plumes of sediment that looked like bombs exploding. As the dust settles, I can see the tangled mass of roots, and with that I stuff the milfoil into my yellow mesh bag and move on to the next one. One hour, 700 pounds of compressed air, and five gallons of bagged milfoil later I get a tap on my tank from my kayak tender; my time is up. Time sure does fly when you are having fun! Other than waking up at 6:00 am, dive days have been my favorite part of the internship so far, and I heard the interns last year were occasionally rewarded with Klondike Bars...

Field hails from Rhode Island and is majoring in environmental science and policy with a minor in both geography and anthropology at Plymouth State University. Click here to read his full bio.

June 24, 2014

Caroline S.

Things are picking up here at the SLA! In the mornings when I come back from a night of camping on the islands, around 7am, I pass the interns who are just leaving to go dive for the day. We're super busy and sometimes we interns don't see each other for a few days at a time! It's nice to come home after a weekend of camping to my "dysfunctional family," as Erik dubbed us all. But despite how much we love being together, my favorite thing here is being out on Bowman or Moon island alone. Not only do you hear loon calls punctuating the night (and your sleep) every ten minutes, you also get to watch the world come alive at dusk and dawn--the most happening times for wildlife out on the lake. It's been great interacting with the campers; I've met a lot of people who've actually taught me a lot about the area, since a lot of them have been coming here to these same campsites for several decades. And I don't hate it when they offer me cake. It's also interesting talking to visitors about the composting toilets. When I matter-of-factly remind them to add a handful of wood chips to the toilet after they use it, I often get some pretty awkward stares and the frequent diverted gaze. Apparently no one wants to lock eyes while I talk to them about their excrement. But it's not actually that difficult to win people over to the idea of composting human waste ("humanure") once a stranger to the idea moves past the initial discomfort. Most people coming to Squam have a vested interest in conserving the beautiful environment here, and so when you start to explain the science behind composting toilets, it seems like almost everyone can get behind it. It's all about nutrient renewal--if urine and feces get pumped into a septic tank or end up squashed into dry cubes at a landfill, that's a whole lot of precious carbon and nitrogen you've just denied an ecosystem. The circle of life gets a little dicey when you start eliminating resources that are supposed to be recycled, and humanure is one incredibly important resource that is too often overlooked. Seeing the two- and three-year-old compost being put back into the forest makes me appreciate conservation efforts all the more. Especially at such a beautiful place like Squam, you give back what you take.

Caroline attends Vanderbilt University, and is working toward a double-major in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. She is from Pittsburgh, PA. Read her full bio here.

June 20, 2014

Caroline H.

Today I went on my first milfoil removal dive. Thinking of the situation that we face with milfoil on Squam reminds of a story that I heard during my time in Panama. Loosely translated, the story goes something like this: There once was a big and beautiful forest that was home to many animals. One day, a fire started in the forest. Though small when it began, the fire  grew very quickly and soon was uncontrollable.  A bird saw the fire and realized that it needed to be stopped. He began to fly to the water, wet his wings, and come back to sprinkle droplets onto the flames.  A monkey saw the bird and asked him why  he was bothering with his task when it was clear that his tiny amount of water brought by his wings could not put the fire out. The bird replied that his home was worth fighting for and that as long as he did not give up, he could make a difference.  He continued with his task. Finally, a giant rainstorm came by and the fire was extinguished. The bird celebrated, saying that with faith and hard work, anything is possible. After the fire was put out, the forest grew back and became even more beautiful than before.

When thinking of milfoil, it’s easy to take the point of view of the monkey: we are only a team of 8 interns battling a plant that proliferates so quickly. How could our efforts possibly make a difference? However, like the bird in the story, we also have “storms” helping us out: our Diver Assisted Suction Harvester and the support of many SLA members. Results of the work done over the past few years is already apparent: today when we dove in Bennett Cove, although there were some large milfoil plants, they were scattered, and there were nowhere near as many as I was expecting. Asquam Marina, while still occupied by milfoil, shows remarkable improvement from photos from past years. I know that we’re making a difference on Squam, and I’m so excited to continue to play a role in the eradication of milfoil on this beautiful lake.

Caroline is from Manchester, NH and is a rising senior at the College of the Holy Cross pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies. Check out her full bio here.

June 18, 2014

Jacob

Moving half way across the country to pursue my goals in the natural resources field was not easy, but Squam Lake has quickly become a home away from home.  The new skills I have learned since being here will propel me into my future career.  We have been trained with an array of different skills including trail maintenance, CPR/First Aid, lake hosting, and scuba diving.  Scuba diving has been by far my favorite experience since working with the Squam Lakes Association.  Diving is a whole new adventure by itself.  Being able to experience the world beneath the surface of the water is incredible.  Seeing the world through the eyes of a fish is amazing but also somewhat scary when you can barely see passed the hand in front of your face.  While scuba diving we spend our time pulling variable milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum) from Squam Lake.  It is such a satisfying feeling to be making a positive impact on the environment.  Not only are we reducing milfoil abundance through eradication but also through prevention.  Last weekend was my first time being a Lake Host.  As a Lake Host we post up at the public boat launch.  There we spend the day checking boats coming in and out of Squam Lake looking for, and extending knowledge of aquatic invasive species.  All but one of the boats I scanned were clean.  The one boat that was not clean was transporting small fragments of variable milfoil.  To say the least, I felt a little like an environmental superhero saving the lake from another potential infection of milfoil.   I am so ecstatic to be working with SLA this summer and excited to see the improvements we make on the milfoil abundance as the summer moves on.

Jacob is from Wisconsin and just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a degrees in fisheries and biology. He will join the Peace Corps in Africa this winter. Read his full bio here.

June 16, 2014

Kendall

Today marks our last day of training, and I could not be more excited to working and get into the swing of things. I didn't know quite what to expect when I first arrived here at Squam. The three weeks that have passed since then have been such a blur, but it already feels so familiar to all of us. I'm beginning to know my way around the lake (at least the parts we frequent), getting to know the landscape, navigational landmarks and cardinal directions. I am getting more comfortable with operating a powerboat, having passed our safe boater education exam and commercial boating license tests. I now know how to recognize variable milfoil, how to hand pull it effectively and also how to use our handy DASH (diver-assisted suction harvester) machine. I know the insides and outs of cleaning a composting toilet, I've learned the names of many tools and how to use them, and realized how much hard work is needed to keep a hiking trail well maintained. I've gotten to know my fellow interns and each of their own unique personalities, and I've fallen in love with a place that I had never heard of up until three months ago. I've been challenged so far, and I know I will face challenges in the future, but the practical experience I will have gained by the end of the summer and the friendships I've made will mean so much to me. I'm looking forward to calmer schedules, weekends out on the islands, hours underwater, and hiking the many trails around the lake on my days off. This place has so much to offer, and you can be sure all eight of the interns will be taking full advantage of it!

Kendall is from Maryland, but spent her college years at University of Redlands in Southern California where she majored in Environmental Studies and Latin American Studies. Read her full bio here.

June 12, 2014

Emily

So far the Squam Lakes have served as a breathtaking adventure for both me and my group. As a group living together in a semi-small house, we have already spent hours bonding, and I cannot even imagine leaving this place at the end of the summer; I am sure tears will be shed. We are just now finishing up on training for the summer, and I am extremely excited to start getting into the regular routine of working on our own. Although, really nothing here is routine. Everyday we do something new, which is a both terrifying and extremely gratifying process. We already have learned and experienced so many things; I can only imagine what the rest of the summer has to offer. My very favorite activity so far was camping for the whole weekend at Chamberlain Reynolds Memorial Forest and doing trail work. Who knew trails needed so much work done to them?! I consciously felt like the little dog in Alice in Wonderland with the sweepy tail and painting nose, determining where each trail went or ended. I wonder if Alice in Wonderland had a secret sustainability message hidden within it, much like all of our activities here at Squam Lake.   After doing trail work we swam in the icy cool waters of Squam, which suddenly didn't feel so ice cold anymore.  The water literally felt cleansing and wonderful as we splashed around in it with our new Golden Retriever friend.  Afterwards, we spent the night around a campfire singing classic songs of youth to an intern playing the ukulele. Even in that moment, I knew I was making a memory that would last a lifetime- I have actually gotten into a habit of exclaiming how great I feel all the time here…  I am not sure if it kills the moment or not yet.  Needless to say, I hope this movie-moment, memory-making summer will never end, and I will never have to not wake up to seven crazy interns out on my couch in the morning.

Emily is an upcoming junior at Hanover College in southern Indiana and is a Biology major with a double minor in Environmental Science and Sociology. Read her full bio here.

June 6, 2014

Ian

Uncertainties and anxieties barraged my mind as I pulled into the Squam Lakes Association on the first day of the internship. Had I forgotten anything on the packing list? Was I capable of completing the demanding tasks outlined by Brett and Rebecca in the internship description? What if I couldn’t complete the certification requirements? After just finishing my freshmen year of college, was I really prepared for a three month internship? Are the other interns as anxious as I am about the upcoming summer? My nerves were getting the best of me to say the least. However, as I sit here reflecting back on the first two weeks spent as an SLA intern, it is now safe to say that all of my previous anxieties have been assuaged. The experiences created for us by the staff at SLA have been inspiring and essential for any young adult hoping to pursue a career in conservation. I know that it will be an invaluable experience to spend the rest of the summer absorbing the knowledge and professionalism offered by not only Brett and Rebecca, but also the rest of the staff at SLA. In addition, my ambitions to continue studying towards a degree in fishery biology have been solidified by interactions and conversations with Erik and Jake, two of the older interns who are further along in their studies of other fisheries related majors. Needless to say it has been amazing getting to know the other interns as well. The magnificence and beauty of Squam Lakes has brought us closer together than I could have ever imagined. Now that we are all certified divers, milfoil removers, commercial boat divers, first aid responders, and response-able interns (a “clever” phrase coined by Brett) I cannot wait to spend the remainder of the summer here on Squam.

Ian is from East Corinth, Vermont. He's studying Fishery Biology at the University of Vermont. Click here to read his full bio.

June 3, 2014

Erik

It is hard to believe it has only been two weeks since arriving at Squam. Every day, from sunrise to sunset, has been packed with adventure and learning. In this short amount of time the interns and I have turned our free time into engaging group activities where we bond and get to know one another more and more each day. Turning the radio off and asking each other questions on a long car ride back from Field’s house in Newport, sitting around the living room and sharing pictures from past endeavors, and sharing our highs and lows of the day together before we head off to bed; all of these moments are just a few of the things we do as a group to become closer. This group bonding is becoming contagious, after our last dive on Sunday we invited our scuba instructor Brad out for ice cream, and got to know him more about him outside of the scuba world. All of this makes me look forward to the next 3 months of working with everyone. I feel so privileged to have been chosen by the SLA for this unique summer opportunity, and I am extremely happy to have spent my birthday here with such a great group of people (shout out to Rebecca for the Birthday cake!), and I am even more thankful that I get to spend the rest of my summer working here with all the people involved with the lake. Our open dives on Lake Winnipesaukee were some of the coolest things I’ve experienced in my life. Coming face to face with fish, and exploring a sunken vessel from the late 1800s are just a couple of my first experiences underwater I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to be working underwater in Squam Lake and get to explore its underwater habitats and work together more with the interns!

Erik is from Connecticut and studies Aquatics and Fisheries Science at State University New York: College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Read his full bio here.

May 30, 2014

Caroline S.

The Portuguese have a word called “saudade.” It doesn’t translate easily into English, but it essentially means “the anticipation of nostalgia for the present moment.” I feel that here ten times a day. I’ll give you a couple examples: (1) Wednesday night, after the awesome loon talk, all eight interns and our intern manager Ian (also known as Jefe, or “boss man” in Spanish) were crowded into our cottage living room, just laughing and laughing and laughing at one of our many terrible jokes. The point is that I was able to look all around me at the faces of these kids I met two weeks ago and think: I am so lucky. We interns are all so lucky. (2) On our first day off last Sunday, the eight of us were bone-tired from all the training and composting and boating and frigid-lake-swim-testing and hauling things that we’d been doing. We were just physically and mentally spent.  But nevertheless we piled into two of our cars at 9am and drove an hour north to Franconia Ridge. We proceeded to hike a 10-mile loop, 9 miles of which I would be willing to swear were straight up. When we got to the top of the third and highest peak, Lafayette, we all huddled between some rocks to eat a very late lunch before we sprinted down the mountain to beat nightfall. We were sitting there on the bare mountaintop, shivering, with our backs to the wind and our calves burning, and I pulled out a champagne mango. I borrowed Jake’s knife, and we all passed around little slices of the bright yellow fruit. We were so glad to be at the top, and so thankful for the tangy-sweet mango…it sounds silly, but it was just one of those moments you know you’re going to look back on and miss. Every moment here is like that. The very first night here, when it was just Jake and Emily and me, the frogs were singing and the loons were wailing as we were falling asleep. I was a little nervous, and I thought—what on earth is this summer going to be like? Well let me tell you, it is a lot of work. And it is a blast. And these kids are my family, and Brett and Rebecca are our strict but affectionate parents, and Ian Cullison is our reluctant uncle whose favor we will one day win. (Love you Jefe!) Most importantly, we all adore Squam Lakes, and it feels a little bit like fate to be here with these amazing people working to protect this beautiful place.

Caroline attends Vanderbilt University, and is working toward a double-major in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. She is from Pittsburgh, PA. Read her full bio here.

May 28, 2014

Field

The first week at Squam wraps up tomorrow, and I have loved every second of it. My fellow interns have quickly evolved into my family and I can guarantee we are all having a blast, and did I mention the cottage?? Our living quarters are amazing, especially after seeing what the interns lived in last year...I hope they aren't too jealous. Days on the lake have been long but filled with adventure, and some pleasant surprises as well. I often get lost in the rippled reflections of the lake and the lush green ridges surrounding this serene lake. Rebecca and Brett are a bank of knowledge and have been teaching us the ropes, from the navigation of trails and the mission of the SLA, to showing us how not to crash a boat. I was pleasantly surprised with the cabin on Bowman Island, which I expected to be nothing more than a floor with four walls and a ceiling--it turned out to be a time portal to the days when the Squam Lakes Association was first established. What surprised me even more was how awesome the composting toilets are. I expected something rather nasty to say the least, but now I think they are the coolest thing ever plus they are environmentally conscious and support the mission of conservation. Is it weird if I like cleaning them? I can't wait to see what's in store for the rest of the summer, and I can't wait to go scuba diving tomorrow!

Field hails from Rhode Island and is majoring in environmental science and policy with a minor in both geography and anthropology at Plymouth State University. Click here to read his full bio.

2014 Intern Bios

Caroline S.

Hi! I'm Caroline, and I could not be any more excited to be spending my summer as a Conservation Intern at Squam. I hail from Florida originally—I spent the first 12 years of my life in Gainesville, Florida, then moved to Pittsburgh where I lived until college. I attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and I am working toward a double-major in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. I hope to get a Master of Fine Arts in poetry after undergrad, and eventually I'd like to get a masters degree or PhD in some sort of environmental science. I'm really interested in how storytelling can help to raise environmental awareness--much of my creative writing attempts to do this. I want to be another voice like Michael Pollan (author of Omnivore's Dilemma) or James Balog (founder of Extreme Ice Survey and world-renowned photographer), who both use artistic media to evoke emotional responses to the changes that are happening in the global landscape. I'm fluent in French, and next year I'll be learning Nepali when I study abroad in Nepal, where I'll be studying ecotourism and climate change in the Himalayas. I fell in love with Squam two summers ago when I visited for a brief week, and I've been trying to get back in some meaningful way ever since. This is it. I feel very compelled--and am thrilled to have been selected--to be a caretaker of the beautiful Squam environment. I can't wait to get to know everyone, listen to the loons, and fall in love with the lake all over again.

Erik

My name is Erik and I was born and raised in Woodstock, CT. I just completed my second year State University New York: College of Environmental Science and Forestry. I am getting my degree in Aquatics and Fisheries Science. On campus I am an orientation leader, student ambassador, and president of the student chapter of the American Fisheries Society. I've grown up exploring the outdoors of New England and I think I found my place studying what I do. After graduation I hope to get a job working to conserve our nation's freshwater resources. Outside of school I like to be outdoors, hike, explore, play soccer, basketball, skateboard, and snowboard.  I've never been to Squam Lake before but I am very excited for this summer! ​

Emily

My name is Emily, I am an upcoming junior at Hanover College in southern Indiana.  I am a Biology major and a double minor in Environmental Science and Sociology.  My passions range from exploring new places to reading and crafting in my spare time.  This past May I backpacked out west through the Henry Mountains, Capital Reef National Park, and within the Grand Canyon to complete a plant species diversity survey.  I love spending time outdoors and pushing myself to new limits while learning about the environment I am exploring.  Along with this, I love nothing more than spending time with and helping animals of all shapes and sizes, which probably comes from many years of rehabilitating and caring for both domestic and exotic species.  I have gone on adventures ranging from capturing injured Great Horned Owls from the wild to brushing cheetahs' teeth.  Ultimately, I hope my experiences help me to impact the species and their environments of which I care so much about.

Ian

I am a born and raised Vermonter, growing up just across the Connecticut River in the small farming town of East Corinth. Currently I am finishing up my freshmen year at the University of Vermont where I am studying Fishery Biology within the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. In my free time I enjoy snowboarding, fly fishing, hiking, and fly tying among
other things. I have visited the beautiful Squam Lakes region every year for the entirety of my life. The time I have spent on Squam has evoked a sense of responsibility for the health of the surrounding aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem that encompasses this special place. Thus, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the Squam Lakes Association this summer and work towards the conservation of a region very dear to my heart.

Kendall

My name is Kendall, and I'm originally from College Park, Maryland. I've spent the past 4 years living in southern California, where I attended the University of Redlands and double majored in Environmental Studies and Latin American Studies. I mostly studied issues of environmental injustice in Latin America, which is where my two majors intersected. I became interested in the environment in college, and helped found a sorority with an environmental focus, Kappa Pi Zeta. I currently live and work in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain range at a ski resort. Besides skiing, I also like to hike and rock climb and just be outdoors in general. I also like to read and drink coffee and cook. I am excited to get back to the East Coast and spend time on a lake where everything is green, after living in the desert for so long!

Field

My name is Field, and I am a rising senior at Plymouth State University. I am majoring in environmental science and policy with a minor in both geography and anthropology. I grew up in Newport, Rhode Island where I learned to appreciate the ocean and all of its mysteries right in my backyard.  I love learning about the world around me and discovering the wonders of nature, which is the driving factor for my concentration of studies and my migration north to the mountains of New Hampshire. When I am not buried in school work you can find me rock climbing, surfing, sailing, backpacking, practicing yoga and attempting to play the fiddle. I also love to spend time with my five brothers and sisters and my puppy Boris.

Jacob 

Hello, my name is Jacob and I am originally from West Bend, Wisconsin.  I am soon to graduate from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point where I will earn degrees in fisheries and biology.  Aquatic conservation and habitat restoration is my passion.  I live as far from the coast as possible but the allure of the ocean has always intrigued me and I plan to gain an MS in marine fisheries.  I have a strong desire to travel and one of my goals in life is to visit every country in the world.  Along with my interest in travel, I love doing anything that has to do with being outside.  Some of my hobbies include fishing, hunting, biking, wakeboarding, snowboarding and playing the ukulele.  Growing up I spent much of my time in the great north-woods of Wisconsin, which is where my love for the outdoors began.

 

Caroline H.

My name is Caroline, and I am a rising senior at the College of the Holy Cross pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies. On campus, I volunteer in the admissions office and am a member of several clubs, including Eco-Action and Holy Cross for a Cure.  In my free time, I enjoy reading, hiking, and baking. Although I was born and raised in the city of Manchester, New Hampshire, I spent a lot of time in the lakes region while growing up. I’m really excited to get the chance to intern at Squam Lake this summer!

May 6, 2014

Ian


It’s hard to believe that the next class of interns will be arriving in two weeks. Even though they don’t know it yet, these interns are extremely lucky. They will be arriving to freshly renovated living quarters, tuned up boats, and hopefully a diminished milfoil infestation. I’m beyond excited to be able to spend another summer on Squam and to begin my new role as the Conservation Intern Manager. After going through the internship last summer I knew I had to find a way to come back. Though it won’t be quite the same without the seven people I had as roommates last summer, it will be a grand new adventure helping this year’s crew pick up where we left off.

Ian is from Toledo, Ohio. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Environment and Natural Resources. Ian was a Squam Conservation Intern in 2013 and returns this summer as our first Conservation Intern Manager.