The Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) develops skills and experiences for conservation professionals. LRCC members are the driving force behind the Squam Lakes Association’s conservation efforts. 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.
To view past Conservation Journals, click on the links below.
June 21, 2018
The summer is in full swing here at the Squam Lakes Association, and I am so excited to be a part of it! This is not only my first summer at Squam Lake, but my first time in New Hampshire. In the short month I have been here I’ve experienced so many breathtaking views, days of hard work, and rewarding challenges to overcome. I always expected my education to slow down after graduating from college, but at the SLA it is still full speed ahead! In my time here, I have become Wilderness First Aid certified, CPR certified, SCUBA certified, a weed control diver, a New Hampshire safe boater, and passed my New Hampshire commercial boater certification. It’s incredible how many new skills I have learned in so little time!
This past week we restarted our seemingly endless battle against variable milfoil in Squam Lake, but our efforts are making a huge impact. Through long dive days and excellent supervision from Rebecca and Katri, we AmeriCorps members are getting the milfoil out and keeping the watershed healthy. At first, I was extremely excited to learn how to SCUBA dive, but during our first open water dives I became a bit apprehensive that it wasn’t for me due to troubles clearing my ears and being comfortable staying under for long. As we continued diving, I have become more and more comfortable in the water and now my only worries involve being scared by unexpected large fish under creepy docks. So, things are going well!
This past week also marked the start of summer camping for us AmeriCorps members. So far, the weather has been beautiful for all of my campouts, which I am extremely grateful for. The comfortable days have allowed me to learn everything there is to know about camping on Squam Lake and how to do the same when the weather isn’t so great. One of my favorite parts of camping is the peace and quiet the night brings out on the lake. There’s nothing quite like stargazing on a dock out in the middle of the lake on a clear night. Typically, the only things that break the silence are the calls of the loons, which are a welcome addition. As a Midwesterner, the hills and mountains of New Hampshire are very new to me, but I am excited to live in and among them for the next couple of months. I have thoroughly enjoyed my service at the Squam Lakes Association so far, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer brings!
Connor N. is from Carmel, Indiana. He graduated from Ohio Northern University where he studied Environmental/Field Biology and Spanish. Click here to read Connor's bio.
June 15, 2018
The program is getting bigger. It’s almost been a month since our LRCC family has almost doubled in size. The new members are alright. Just because they surf and are incredibly talented whiteboard artists doesn’t mean they are great. It means they are AMAZING. I can’t even begin to explain how awesome it is to have so many new members. I can’t tell if I’ve been in such a good mood lately because I can see the grass again or because of all these new friends. It’s probably both.
You may be thinking, "Hey man, wait a minute! You’re supposed to say stuff like that." You would be right, but I’m not only happy that they are here, I am happy that I can already see our yield and outreach growing. I see people dreaming bigger because of the new capacity. I see improvement, and the bar was already set high.
I’d like to take you with me back in time a bit to when I first came to Squam in 2015 as an Squam Conservation Intern. It was a magical summer. Seven tightly packed interns learning how to drive boats and doing meaningful conservation work for three months. I didn’t get a very good view behind the scenes that year, but what I received from the Squam Lakes Association was so much more than I expected. The following summer I couldn’t stay away. The Squam air was to my lungs like caffeine is to a drowsy brain. It’s a natural pick-me-up.
I returned as an environmental leader with the JSLA and viewed a whole different side to the SLA. Most of the kids you are working with are just starting to learn how to love the lake and the mountains of the Lakes Region. Sometimes taking them on hike felt a little like brainwashing them, because how can anything compete with working hard to hike to a summit and the reward of reaching it? Then I remember that this is nature. It’s not something you need to trick people into appreciating. You just need to show it to them and let them really see it for what it is. Nature will do the rest. After that summer I decided that I wanted to come back to Squam the following season, and I managed to get the Youth Program Camp Director position.
As Camp Director I was able to work closely with our Director of Education to plan the summer for the kids and the leaders. Not only was I excited to try and push for every day of camp to have ice cream sundaes at the end, I was excited to get a better glimpse into the inner workings of the full-time staff. What I found was not unexpected. Driven and passionate people working hard to keep the conservation train moving. And boy did it move.
I could see the vision of the organization as it was explained by the full-time staff during meetings. I saw them reaching goals that some might consider more than ambitious, but to this group of people they were realistic. The amount of time and dedication that it takes to run a conservation association and keep it steady, let alone propel it forward is nearly super-human. And that’s what it feels like sometimes. Our Executive Director used to say in his talks to us that his son sees us as superheroes, because that’s what we are. When I first heard him say that I just thought to myself, “Oh that’s cute” but looking back now I can say that it is the truth. I guess that makes us like the Justice League or the Avengers. Especially since the strength of all of these groups is not in any one person, it’s in the collective.
I have faith in the SLA and everyone who is a part of it (directly or indirectly). I truly hope that the momentum the SLA has gained over the past years doesn’t move people too quickly because sometimes it’s important to step back in revel in a job well done. As always, conservation takes time and a tree isn’t fully grown in a year, but we’ve added a few fat rings to our tree, as well as some new branches such as the AmeriCorps members at the Lakes Region Conservation Trust and Squam Conservation Society. I’m looking forward to see where the summer goes.
Kyle is from Rochester, New York. This is his fourth summer with the SLA, but his first summer serving with AmeriCorps! He is working toward his degree at SUNY Oswego in Chemistry and Creative Writing. Click here to read Kyle's bio.
June 6, 2018
Squam is the place I have been lucky enough to call home for a long time, but the Squam Lakes Association and AmeriCorps are both new to me as of May 21st. I’ve already learned so much. We have been training nonstop since we got to the SLA, and it has been quite the whirlwind. In two weeks I have gained a whole new perspective on Squam Lake and all that surrounds it.
Before, I knew the lake from reflective evening paddles, long exciting days sailing across the broads, and quick hikes up Rattlesnake or Morgan and Percival; now it is so much more. I had only seen the lake a hand full of times from a motorboat, but now, not only have I ridden around on a gasoline toting vessel, I have actually driven three of them, multiple times (And taken the NH Safe Boater course, so it’s all safe!). Rebecca taught us new AmeriCorps members how to do water quality testing around the lake, where we measured site depth, temperature, visibility, and took water samples. As the summer progresses, I am very excited to learn more about the quality of Squam Lake’s water, which I have taken more than a few accidental gulps of over the years. I trail hosted at the Rattlesnake trailhead on a weekend, and I saw first hand how many people come from all over to hike SLA trails. Connor took me to the new SLA trail, which he helped build, and we spent a few buggy hours hiking it with a 4x4 on our shoulders, digging a deep hole for the 4x4, finding an enormous rock in the hole, placing the 4x4, and filling in the hole so it looked like the 4x4 had always been there to be a sign post. I always knew trail work was hard, now I am beginning to understand how hard.
This is just the beginning. It feels great to be learning to care and advocate for this watershed that has always been an important part of my life. Here’s to two more weeks of training, and an entire summer and fall of growing in and with the Squam Lakes Association and AmeriCorps.
Erica is from Holderness, NH. She graduated from Colby College with a degree in Geology and Environmental studies. Click here to read Erica's bio.
May 31, 2018
It’s officially the second term of the Lakes Region Conservation Corps, and I am so happy to be back. In between the winter/spring AmeriCorps service term and this one I took a road trip to see what other interesting places there are in the U.S. After spending half a year in New Hampshire, the mountains canyons, dunes, and red rocks out west were a sharp contrast to the landscape I was used to. My time with the LRCC had definitely given me a bit different perspective on some of the national parks I went to, and a greater appreciation for the trail systems that they have to maintain. On a side note, if you ever happen to be in southern Colorado make a point to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park, they are stupidly cool in person. But despite all of the wonderful parks, views, and trails (actually built with a decent grade), I was always thinking about how excited I was to end up back here.
Although surviving my first New England winter was interesting and beautiful in its own right, the new life that spring brings to the lake really transforms the whole experience of being here. Plus, I really love reptiles and amphibians, so I can’t tell you how good it is to be seeing turtles out in the water and hearing frogs calling every night. There are also many new challenges and opportunities coming up for everybody in the watershed this summer. For example, we’ll be working hard to fight aquatic and terrestrial invasive plants, including a number of volunteer workdays to help clean up some of the spots we all love to visit. I basically need to relearn my plant ID’s though, because they look so different now that they actually have leaves. The picture below is from ax training with the Forest Service, which radically changed my opinion on how much you should care for your ax. Summer is also bringing so many new faces to the area. So whether we’re out on the trails, at the boat launches, or the campsites, one of the things I’m looking forward to the most is hearing about the lake from so many different perspectives.
Ben is from Durham, North Carolina. He is serving his second service term with the Lakes Region Conservation Corps program at the SLA. He graduated from the College of Wooster with a degree in Biology. Click here to read Ben's bio.
My name is Becca and I am from Chicago, Illinois. I graduated from Illinois State University in 2015 with a BA in Biological Sciences and a minor in Environmental Science. My passion for the environment stemmed from a love I have had for turtles ever since I was a little girl. Some of my hobbies include going to concerts, tossing a frisbee, working out and doing puzzles. I can now say I have experienced all 4 seasons in New England, as the start of this new program will mark a year of me serving at the SLA. As much as I loved winter and all the snow, I am looking very forward to another summer on Squam!
My name is Ben Grunwald and from Durham, North Carolina. I graduated from the College of Wooster, in Wooster, OH, with a bachelors in biology. My interests are primarily on reptile and amphibian conservation/ecology, which has included time volunteering with the NC Herpetological Society and my senior thesis on lizards in Costa Rica. I served during the 2017-2018 winter term with the LRCC and am excited to be back!
Hi! My name is Connor Ney and I'm originally from Carmel, Indiana. I'm a recent graduate of Ohio Northern University where I studied environmental and field biology as well as Spanish. I'm more than excited to be a Lakes Region Conservation Corps AmeriCorps Member and I can't wait to see what adventures this experience brings! My interests include hiking, traveling, and reading. One of my favorite experiences was last summer when I had the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica. I learned so much about a completely different culture and experienced a brand new incredibly diverse environment. I hope to use what I learned there to help celebrate the diversity of life and the endless opportunities here at Squam Lakes.
My name is Connor and I’m from Sioux City, Iowa. I graduated from Saint John’s University in Minnesota with a degree in Biology and spent a lot of my time after undergrad on Squam Lake. I spent a brief New Hampshire hiatus working for an educational non-profit in Texas this past spring, teaching about the importance of conservation and habitat restoration projects. I plan on attending graduate school in the Fall of 2018 with my focus geared towards wildlife behavior and ecology in relation to changes in the ecosystem. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned and my passion for the environment while providing opportunities for the public to engage with nature. I’m also very excited to be back in the Squam Lakes region and can’t wait to explore the area more.
My name is Erica Lehner, and I am from Holderness, NH. Squam Lake is a wonderful place to call home, and I very happy to be serving with SLA's AmeriCorps program this season on the lake. I graduated from Colby College in 2016, where I studied Geology and Environmental Studies. Through college and since graduating I have done my best to spend as much time outdoors, on and off the clock. I spent many seasons working for the Appalachian Mountain Club's hut system in the White Mountains, in many ways, hiking for a living. More recently, I moved to Montana to teach skiing. I want to continue to work in the outdoors, so that I can help protect these environments which mean so much to me.
My name is Erin Shilling and this past May I graduated from the University of Texas in Austin. Originally from Dallas, Texas, I majored in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Biology and I also completed two certificates- one in Environment and Sustainability and one in Marine Science. I will be starting graduate school at Florida Atlantic University this fall of 2018, and am thrilled to be able to call the Squam Lakes Association home for the time in between now and when that begins. I hope to have a career in research in the future, and want to learn more about how non-profits like the SLA work to implement research into their management practices in order to best conserve the environment. In addition to research, I love the outdoors, working with animals, reading, and learning.
My name is Kyle Salmons and I have worked with the SLA in many different facets for the past three summers and am excited to jump into another summer season! I have an interest in all the sciences, especially those involving mathematics, and I am working towards a degree in Chemistry from SUNY Oswego in New York. Originally from Upstate New York, I have grown to love and appreciate all of New England and hope to do my part in preserving this beautiful part of the country. I try to portion my time equally between physically demanding hobbies such as hockey and hiking with my more "lazy" hobbies of playing lots of video games and reading. If there is something that I cannot do or is giving me difficulty, I will dedicate obscene amounts of time to perfect it as best I can. This has caused me to fall in love with seemingly tedious pursuits that thrive off of technique such as wood chopping or mastering knots. It's my hope that I will become a Jack-of-all-trades and prove the "master of none" portion of the idiom false. My joy of learning has led me to enjoying teaching as well. It is important to me to share the joy that I have learning new skills with others such that they may fall in love with it as well. Curiosity is paramount and I can't wait to continue developing me skills with the AmeriCorps program as an LRCC member!
Hi, my name is Kimberly Appleby and I am originally from Deland, Florida. I graduated from the University of North Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. I have always enjoyed being outdoors and love wildlife. This has led me to pursue a career in conservation. My undergraduate studies have further guided my interests towards studying ecology to minimize human impact to natural ecosystems. I am very excited to get the opportunity to work on the Squam Lakes, and to contribute to protecting its watershed. Besides my educational pursuits, I also love kayaking, photography, and being around animals.
My name is Maggie Upham I grew up in Swampscott, Massachusetts, a small seaside community north of Boston. I am a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Natural Resource Conservation. I love hiking, camping, photography, baking, cooking, and identifying birds and other wildlife. I am very passionate about conservation and environmental education and outreach.
Hi, my name is Michael Hoffman I am currently an undergraduate student at Stockton University and graduating this coming May (2018) with a B.S. in Environmental Science! My focus during my time at school was environmental quality with an interest in all the facets of the environmental sciences. I am beyond excited to serve as an AmeriCorps Member working with the LRCC-SLA program! Being outside, whether its hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing, and especially hammocking are all things I have always loved to do. This probably came from basically spending my whole life leading up to college in the Boy Scouts of America. Being able to share my expanding knowledge and passions of the outdoors, environmental stewardship, conservation, and so much more is an amazing thing. Oh and I spent a semester in culinary arts so I hope the rest of the members are ready for some good eats!
Katri, AmeriCorps Program Manager
The energy here at the SLA is quickly ramping up for the summer, and the start of the second LRCC AmeriCorps crew will mark the first step into our craziest season! We’re happy to welcome not only four new AmeriCorps members with the SLA, but an additional six members with the Lakes Region Conservation Trust and two members with the Squam Lakes Conservation Society. We’ve got a jam packed training period scheduled for them all so they can confidently serve the Lakes Region community. As I’ve said before and will keep saying, I can’t wait for people new to the region to experience the wonder that is the Lakes Region and I’m just as excited for people who are from the region to get an entirely new perspective on this beautiful state! Winter is over and with it goes the serenity of the season. It’s time for our LRCC-SLA members to get pumped for the thrill of driving Calypso around Squam as they clean composting toilets, the excitement of interacting with a first-time hiker of West Rattlesnake, and the rush of plunging into the frigid waters to rid the Lakes of milfoil.
Katri started at SLA as an intern in 2016, she was the Intern Manager for the summer of 2017, and started her role as the AmeriCorps Program Manager in November of 2017. She is from Arlington, Virginia and graduated from Colby College in 2015 with a degree in the field of Government. In her free time she is found running, hiking, cooking, reading, and/or listening to NHPR.