2018 Summer/Fall LRCC Conservation Journal

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. 

Learn more about the LRCC program here. 

To view past Conservation Journals, click on the links below.

     2017-2018 (Winter/Spring)

     2017 (Summer)

     2016 (Summer)

     2015 (Summer)

     2014 (Summer)

     2013 (Summer)

October 24, 2018

Mike

From hiking up mountains, to exploring the depths of Squam Lake, and on to watching the most beautiful sunsets on sunset ledge, the past 5 months or so have been some of the most memorable life-lasting memories. I will hold them dear to my heart. My name is Michael Hoffman and this is my third and final conservation journal as an AmeriCorps member for the Squam Lakes Association. Saying goodbyes along with pivotal changes in life are always hard but it’s when the tears are flooded with joy and fulfillment that the goodbyes are only a “see you later.” My last two conservation journals held the concept of reflection on my time spent here and this final journal will follow that pattern.

Gosh, the words I could use to describe my time hear at SLA and serving and exploring the Lakes Region fills a list to which has no end. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the full extent of where I would live, the service I would carry out, and the dreams I would achieve. Yes, I knew I would be doing some form of trail work, scuba diving (for a fruitful aquatic invasive species called variable milfoil), and camping out overnight to some degree. What I didn’t know was lunches on a trail work day 2200 feet up on the summit of Morgan or Percival overlooking all of the Lakes Region and the beauty it holds; or, spending two to three hours breathing underwater while swimming past aquatic life bursting with color; or camping up to three nights at time on an island.

A week ago we held our AmeriCorps graduation with words from staff from all three host sites with the Lakes Region Conservation Corps. While it was sad to hear words of good-byes and advice for the future I am hopeful and beyond happy to start the next chapter in life, because I’m going into my next chapter not alone but with a whole new family. Getting to know everyone at SLA, the rest of the LRCC AmeriCorps members, and the community as a whole has been amazing. Knowing there is a group of like-minded souls wanting the best for our lands in all types of conservation efforts is heart-warming. So, I thank everyone I came across during my time up here for everything you have done. Next Stop: Back to home in New Jersey, then after is unknown. The next adventure awaits!

Mike is from Pennsville, New Jersey. He graduated from Stockton University with a B.S. in Environmental Science. Click here to read Mike's bio.

October 20, 2018

Connor N.


It’s bittersweet to know that this was my last month of my AmeriCorps term here at the SLA. It has been an incredible experience so far and I am excited for what the future holds now that I have had a taste of working in the conservation field. One of my favorite events of this fall has been the annual ridge race! Although I didn’t have the opportunity to run the race, I did get the chance to hike and mark the 4-mile race. Even the “shorter” of these 2 races was definitely tough, and I have such respect for everyone who ran or hiked on the day of the race! The whole day was so much fun with food, friends, and good times all around. On that day I really felt like a part of the Squam Lakes community, even if I’ve only been here for a short time.

Now that we’re done SCUBA diving for the season, we’ve had the opportunity to work on many more of the trails managed by the SLA. Trail work can be tough, but I’m glad I get to hike and see more of the area around Squam. There are so many beautiful views and challenging trails available that don’t get as much love as they deserve! This past weekend I was a trail host at the old bridle path trailhead on West Rattlesnake. It was incredibly busy, likely due to the holiday weekend. I was glad to see so many people from other cities, states, and even countries who had come to the area just to see and experience the beauty of Squam in the fall.

I personally got a great view of the fall foliage just this week on Mount Washington! Since coming to New Hampshire in May, I’ve heard many tales and stories of my coworkers and friends hiking up in the white mountains and I knew that I had to find a day to do some hiking myself. It was a beautiful morning as we started our ascent on Washington at around 8:30 AM. Although the climb was long and arduous, I felt an immense sense of accomplishment (and relief for my aching legs) when we reached the summit just before noon. Although New Hampshire has so much to offer, with my conquering of Mount Washington, I feel as though I have had nearly the full New Hampshire experience. A little piece of New Hampshire and the adventures I’ve had here will always be with me, and I’ll be sure to “live free or die” on whatever path my career takes me. Thank you to all of my friends and coworkers at the SLA for what has been an amazing AmeriCorps term, and here’s to hoping I’ll be back one day.

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.

October 16, 2018

Erica

Here at the SLA, we just finished up the whirlwind that was the sixth annual Squam Ridge Race. The Ridge Race is not only a great fundraiser for the SLA, it is also a fun event that brings runners from all over New England to run a 4 or 12-mile course on Squam Ridge. The week leading up to the race was all hands on deck at the SLA, making signs, marking the course, a massive grocery run, organizing food and gear, moving everything to the race, and a hundred other things that made the race day run smoothly. And the race day did run very smoothly!

For me, it was incredibly fun to see the race from the SLA side this year. Being from Holderness, I have enjoyed being a part of the race since its beginning, running it in 2013, volunteering at an aid station in 2014, and running again this past year in 2017. All of my Squam Ridge Race experiences have been exceptional, but this year I got to see, behind the scenes, what goes into putting on an event like this. As a hiker and a runner, my favorite aspect of preparation was marking the racecourse. On Thursday and Friday last week, a crew of AmeriCorps headed for the trails, weighed down with laminated trail signs (mile markers, arrows, and big ‘X’s, indicating you’ve gone the wrong way), sign posts, hammers, nails, flagging tape, and an unthinkable number of yellow blaze arrows, all to make sure runners had no problem following the course. We also brought two GPS devices, to make sure our mile and half-mile signs were as accurate as possible. On Friday, that was my task. A group of us headed up Percival Friday morning to the summit, where, the evening prior we had placed the 5 mile marker, and prepared ourselves for a long, beautiful hike across the ridge. With two GPSs in hand, I walked as straight as I could down the center of the trail past Morgan, Webster, and Livermore and back down to Burleigh Farm. For 7 miles, I watched the mileage slowly increase on each GPS as I carefully hiked and those behind me placed signs and readied the trail.

On Sunday, the race came and went in a blur, before I knew it, runners had started and finished, medals were awarded, food was happily consumed, and everyone went home on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The SLA staff and AmeriCorps packed everything up and headed back to headquarters. It is amazing how much goes into this event to make it run.    

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.     

September 19, 2018

Kim

A lot has happened since I wrote my last conservation journal, but also there’s just been a lot that has happened this summer and now going in to the fall! So I’d like to take the time here to focus on a topic that I did not mention in my last conservation journal. As you may have read in past journals from us LRCC member, we have a busy schedule! And that is definitely not a complaint. It’s amazing. It means we get to serve the Squam Lakes Watershed in so many different ways. One of those ways is by leading or being a part of various different programs or events. And while it is hard to pick a favorite part of this LRCC program we are a part of, this might be it for me.

Planning and leading educational Adventure Ecology programs is one of the programs we LRCC members lead, and I have had the chance to lead two this summer. For my first program I led a hike at Chamberlain Reynolds Memorial Forest, which included walking through the swamp walk. We talked about the different types of wetlands and their role in the watershed, and we identified and pointed out species along the way. The best part of this was that my participants were enhancing my knowledge by pointing out species I didn't know, while I was enhancing theirs and introducing them to a place they have not previously experienced. During my second program I had a similar experience. I led a kayaking program to Bowman Island that focused on the clouds we see above Squam. We stopped at Bowman Island and sat at Sunset Ledge while we continued to discuss the clouds, but it was also an opportunity for me and my participants to share experiences relating to Squam and the surrounding region. This is one of the reasons I have grown to really enjoy running programs, they give participants the ability to learn more about Squam, while also giving everyone involved the opportunity to gain new perspectives and connect with Squam in ways they may not have before.

Adventure Ecology programs are just one of the many programs us LRCC members have led since May. The summer has given many opportunities for us to lead and be a part of partnerships between organizations as both Connor P. and Erica have mentioned in their journals. This includes a recent project were all of LRCC (including members from LRCT and SLCS) worked with the Center Harbor Road Association to remove a fence in Center Harbor Neck that was interfering with the passage of wildlife. This project consisted of everyone working in teams to cut, remove, and roll up the old fence. While we were unable to completely remove the fence in the day of work, we were able to remove a large portion and help the goal become more achievable.

The various programs, projects, and events we participate in or lead are just one aspect of our service, but they allow for unique opportunities to serve this community and to continue to learn from and appreciate this region.

Kim is from from Deland, Florida. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. Click here to read Kim's bio.

September 15, 2018

Mike

The summer is coming to a close, and so is the hustle and bustle of the summer duties of the AmeriCorps members. I am one of the six remaining AmeriCorps volunteers who started up their half-year terms near the end of May. Sadly, we had to see four members leave us at the end of August when they completed a full year of service! All of who were amazing members with varying backgrounds and an array of tremendous knowledge and insight.

So, the Squam Lakes Region is shifting into the fall now, cooler nights are settling in and the fall foliage is peaking its head out. Looking back to the summer, it is unbelievable the amount of diverse and multifaceted service the AmeriCorps members of SLA tackle. Our days are filled with hiking up the 50 plus miles of trails in the Squam Range, diving in beautiful coves surveying for aquatic invasive species such as variable milfoil, running educational programs with the JSLA campers and the public, having the honor to be caretakers at the islands we manage, and getting to see all of Squam Lake through taking water quality samples! Days can be long, but the reward I find after a day’s work on the trails or out on the water is worth it. It’s not every day that you can say after graduating college you spent your summer completely immersed in conservation, wildlife management, and water quality testing at Squam Lake. People have asked me, “Do you actually like it up here, actually?” and every time I basically give the same answer as described above. There have been countless moments up here where my connection, while being short, has grown so much stronger to Squam Lake and conserving its lands for future generations to enjoy.

I once found myself standing out on Sunset Ledge on Bowman while doing my rounds, checking in campers and cleaning bathrooms. I stood there thinking, exactly where I am standing, so many people before stood here for the same reason, ensuring that Bowman Island remains intact and as minimally disturbed for the integrity of the ecosystem to which resides on the island. And my connection to the service we do out here grew so much more as all my hair stood up on my skin. I knew it’s my turn to be that link between all wildlife, trees and plants alike. It is the fall now, with trail work ramping up and diving days slowing down, I cannot wait to get up on the trails to have a great finish out the last two months or service!

Mike is from Pennsville, New Jersey. He graduated from Stockton University with a B.S. in Environmental Science. Click here to read Mike's bio.

September 8, 2018

Maggie

This summer has been amazing. Not only did our group of LRCC members double in size, but so did our work load. Diving, trail work, and camping may be an exhausting weekly schedule but it’s worth it. I get to be outdoors every day doing work that I love. But now that the summer is winding down and cooler temperatures are slowly rolling in, I’m getting both excited and a little sad for October to come. Although the fall is by far my favorite season, it means my time at the SLA is coming to a close.

My time here has not only been fun but has transformed me into the budding conservation professional I have always hoped to be. I came here after graduating college with a vague idea of what I wanted to use my degree for. Here I have found myself delving into a broad range of conservation initiatives, allowing me to expand my education in an applied way. I have been able to dive for invasive variable milfoil, help expand the terrestrial removal program at the SLA, learned what it takes to maintain a vast trail network, and run educational programs which not only enlightened the public but has helped me develop my public speaking skills. One of my favorite educational programs I ran this summer is the Weed Watchers program. A program created by the NH Department of Environmental Services. Because the SLA works tirelessly to get rid of invasive milfoil within the lake, it is important that we share our understanding of invasive plants with the public. This program is designed to help community members identify aquatic plants so they can participate in the Squam Lakes Associations fight against variable milfoil. With more eyes to search out these invasive species the better chance we have of eventually eradicating variable milfoil once and for all.

The LRCC AmeriCorps program has given me an inside look into a successful conservation nonprofit and has allowed me to see what it really means to work in this field. I will be forever grateful to the SLA for helping me to build my confidence and teaching me the true value of doing work that positively effects not just the environment but also the community. 

Maggie is from Swampscott, Massachusetts. She is serving her second service term with the Lakes Region Conservation Corps program at the SLA. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts- Amherst with a degree in Natural Resource Conservation. Click here to read Maggie's bio.

August 31, 2018

Connor N.

As the summer winds down and the cool days of fall wait just around the corner, I can’t help but reflect on the variety of changes happening around the lake, at the SLA, and in my own personal life. Although the heat hasn’t left us quite yet, the changing of the seasons will soon be plainly visible throughout the Squam watershed. From the turning of the leaves to the lake temperature cooling, the adaptive and ever-changing nature of the natural world around us constantly amazes me. Make sure you take some time this fall to get out and enjoy what I consider to be the best season. There’s nothing quite like hiking on a cool day with leaves swirling around you and crunching beneath your feet.

This week in particular brought about many changes at the SLA. It was with heavy hearts but wonderful memories that we said goodbye to four of our full-term AmeriCorps members. When I arrived in May I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the new skills to learn and responsibilities to take on but having experienced AmeriCorps members made the transition much easier. They helped guide us SLA newbies in the beginning of our program and proved to be unforgettable friends and dependable coworkers. Us remaining six AmeriCorps members will miss them dearly, but they are all on to the next great adventure in their lives and we couldn’t be happier for them! Although we are lower in numbers, our efforts at the SLA continue unfettered towards our goal of preserving the Squam watershed and helping others get out there and experience what it has to offer (sustainably of course!).

Finally, I’d like to reflect a bit on something that is relevant in any field of work: motivation. Staying motivated can be hard, especially when the days are long and hard, one has to find something to keep them grounded and going. For me, I’ve found quite a bit of inspiration in those around me. My fellow AmeriCorps members are my coworkers, that’s true, but they’re also my roommates and friends and push me to be the best I can be. It is obvious that we all have a passion for conservation, and that passion pushes us all to do the best work we can. Sometimes it’s rough to wake up for a 7AM dive day or head out to camp after a full day of work. But seeing others do the same (usually with minimal complaints) really pushes me to be my best. Whether in times of hardship, times of happiness, or times of just pure exhaustion; having a friendly and supportive community around me has been an essential part of my SLA experience.

Remember to take some time to enjoy the fresh air and the outdoors this fall, the best season is nearly upon us and I couldn’t be more excited!

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.

August 23, 2018

Erica

June and July have come and gone in the blink of an eye, but as a six month AmeriCorps member, it’s a relief to know we still have two and a half months with the SLA!

This halfway point is a special time with the Lakes Region Conservation Corps. The end is not yet in sight, and I have really just recently begun to feel as though I am getting the hang of things around the SLA. Setting up my scuba gear has become second nature, running the wood splitter and building a fresh row of fire wood is another day at the boat launch, and trail work and camping are a comfortable routine, yet no day is really like another.  At this point, we can take a step back, slow down a little, and begin to understand how the SLA really works to protect the watershed.

Earlier this season, I heard EB talk about partnerships at the Volunteer New Hampshire conference. At the time I was just beginning to see all that makes a non-profit function, but since then I have observed so many examples of these partnerships with the SLA, organizations working together to mutually accomplish their missions. One I have most connected with is the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC). A little over a month ago, a few loon chicks hatched around the lake, and we were lucky enough to have one hatch close to where we are often camped. About a week after this chick was born, I was camped out for the weekend, and each day was tasked with watching the family for a few hours to make sure weekend boaters understood there was a baby loon, and didn’t get too close.  Over the past month this baby has gone from being a tiny fluff, often riding on its parent’s backs to a much larger fluff that dives with its parents and moves around independently on the water. It is never too far from an adult, but now it looks for its own food, dives, and flaps its wings just like its parents.

The LPC monitors the Squam Loons very closely, and every year they catch a few of them to weigh, measure, and check on their health and leg bands. We were able to go out one night with the LPC as they checked on the loon family on Little Squam. The SLA AmeriCorps members who went out took turns holding onto the adult and baby as the adult was measured, had its blood drawn, received some fresh leg bands, and pooped on us. I had never been so close to a loon, and it was amazing to see and hold a tiny loon chick. It was so fluffy and strong, standing up for itself by biting us, even after its mother was captured and calm. This was such a unique opportunity and we have the SLA, the LPC, and all their strong partnerships to thank for it.    

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.   

August 16, 2018

Ben

As an LRCC member, I love the rain. It means that after weeks of poor visibility due to low water level and the dam being closed, diving for milfoil isn’t a silty mess. It means you aren’t overheating on the trails and the woods look wonderfully misty when you’re out doing trail work all day. My favorite part of the rain has been seeing how much life pops up out of nowhere following the storms. Next time you’re out on a hike, keep your eyes towards the ground and give some time to appreciate the little things that call the watershed home.

I got the chance to do just this with two programs I did recently. The first program was in collaboration with the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, one of a number of Nearer to Nature hikes where our LRCC members gotten the opportunity to work with naturalists from the Science Center. The second program was with one of our JSLA camps, so instead of leading a small group of adults I was instead herding a rowdy bunch of kids. We spotted an assortment of amphibians, colorful mushrooms, Indian pipes, and other cool organisms. The results were surprisingly similar, with everyone getting engaged and excited about finding new things. The campers were definitely more into flipping rocks and logs looking for salamanders, so they got way dirtier than the group from the other program. I grew up going to camps where those kinds of explorations were my favorite parts of the week, so getting to make it happen for others was an awesome experience.

It’s great to see so much life and diversity out in our forests not just because frogs and fungi are cool to look at, but because it speaks to the quality of the ecosystems that we have in the watershed. Many of these little organisms, which play a surprisingly large role in the habitats they live in, are fairly sensitive to human disturbances. They rely on complex systems of microhabitats and interactions with other species as well. It’s always important to tread carefully and remember that even small impacts while we are out on the trails can have consequences. But it’s also testament to how conscious this community is of its foot print that we have such a vibrant ecosystem.

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.

August 7, 2018

Connor P.

This past week I had the opportunity to work with the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) of the Pemi district of the Forest Service. It was a great chance to work alongside young conservationists and introduce them to the type of projects we work on at the Squam Lakes Association. We started on Wednesday by going out on the lake and joining our dive crew as they were surveying and removing variable milfoil. While we were there, I discussed the importance of aquatic invasive species management and how necessary it is to keep an eye out for invasive species throughout all parts of our waterbodies. Our dive crew provided an example of variable milfoil, as well as some native plants that look similar to it, and the YCC members were able to jump in and help with the surveying process. Although the water was fairly frigid, they managed to spot some patches where the invasive plant was found, which allowed the removal crew to save some time with surveying. We then went on a brief tour of the lake and talked about the importance of maintaining a healthy watershed and how it pertains to water quality in the lake. On our way back to shore, we made a pit-stop on Moon Island, and explored the island as I told them about the camping opportunities that the SLA provides.

On Friday, we set out for trail work along Old Highway trail. There were some pretty significant blow downs that needed attention, as there were paths going around that compromised the integrity of the trail. After hours of sawing and moving logs in the stupid humidity, we managed to clear the trail and block up the false paths that people were taking to bypass the downed trees. It’s always a rewarding experience being able to see your efforts restore the conditions of a trail, and we finally remembered to take before and after pictures of the work site, which so often slips our minds. Although we completed the trail needs for the day, there was still work to be done, as exhausted as we were. When we returned to the SLA, we set about removing some terrestrial invasive species around the campus. I was surprised they were still able to work as efficiently as they did, pulling oriental bittersweet and japanese barberry with only minimal complaints. As the day drew to a close, I was sad to see them go. Not only are six extra pairs of hands helpful for days like these, but seeing their enthusiasm for working in the outdoors is great to experience as well. I know they’ll go on to do great things in the conservation field.

Connor is from Sioux City, Iowa. This is his third summer with the SLA, but his first summer serving with AmeriCorps! He graduated from Saint John’s University in Minnesota with a degree in Biology. Click here to read Connor's bio.

July 30, 2018

Erin

One of the most significant moments for me this summer happened back in June. We (meaning the dive crew for that day) were heading out for one of the first milfoil removal and survey days of the year. We were heading to the Squam River to dive in the coves. When I was an intern back in 2016 these coves were FULL of milfoil, with large patches of milfoil over 6 feet high. I was fully prepared to spend the entire day gleefully use our DASH (Diver Assisted Suction Harvester) to tackle there large patches of the evil milfoil.

Our first diver hopped into the water to start checking things out while we got everyone else prepared for the removal process on the topside of our beloved Mille, the milfoil removal boat. After thirty minutes, our diver had yet to find a milfoil plant in that cove… I was absolutely flabbergasted that by the end of the diver’s survey there only seemed to be a few very small plants in the cove. This is when I realized how much more faith I should have been putting in our efforts!! I mean, I expected the milfoil to be significantly reduced from 2016, and knew that in previous years the invasion has been drastically shrinking on Squam, but to see that kind of improvement, right in front of my eyes, in just a two year span of time blew me away. Some of the AmeriCorps members have even been complaining about somewhat “boring” dive days because all they do is survey for milfoil and find maybe one or two plants! Now, of course there are still some areas that are hard hit with the milfoil, but the significance of this change is that we can now spend even more time in these places, getting rid of some of the last remaining large patches of this aquatic weed.

While my future work will hopefully be more closely tied to the field of marine biology and coral reefs, I can only hope to continue to be able to carry out conservation efforts that are as efficient and right at the heart of the issues as those we do at the Squam Lakes Association. I love the hands on aspect of working with non-profits as driven as the SLA, and know that this will remain to be the case as it expands with the AmeriCorps program further, and they will keep hammering out conservation efforts year-round.

Erin is from Dallas, Texas. This is Erin's second summer with the Squam Lakes Association and first summer with the Lakes Region Conservation Corps. She graduated from University of Texas-Austin with a degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Biology. Click here to read Erin's bio.

July 19, 2018

Kim

As I write my first conservation journal I had to double check that it’s been two months. Not because it went fast, but because of how much I’ve already learned and experienced in such a short amount of time.  Since arriving here in New Hampshire and at the SLA, I have had the great opportunity to become aquatinted with this amazing region while learning a plethora of new skills. One of which that has literally allowed me to dive into the world of conservation.  I have been interested in becoming SCUBA certified for a long time and am very pleased that my introduction to underwater worlds is coupled with gaining an appreciation of the importance of efforts such as removing aquatic invasive species.  While diving, there are numerous times when I have found myself in awe of the beauty and diversity that exists under the surface when variable milfoil is not present. This makes finding and removing milfoil that much more pleasing. Being able to be a part of this effort is amazing, and this is just one of the efforts we as LRCC members are involved with at the SLA.

Another completely new skill to me is boat driving. Getting decent at this was not an easy task for me. Within the first couple of weeks of being on Squam I more than doubled the amount of times I’ve even been on a motorized boat. As I got better and more comfortable with maneuvering and navigating around the lake I’ve also gained an appreciation for boating as a way people enjoy the lake. From stunning morning commutes to dive sites, to calm evening drives to our campsites, I have a chance to see first-hand where passion for the lake stems from.  This leads me to my last point I want to focus on in my journal, which is the growing appreciation I now have for trail work.

Through my own amazement of the different views of Squam Lake from each new summit I’ve hiked to, and from hearing different perspectives and experiences from hikers, the value of the trails within the Squam Lakes watershed is very apparent.  While I have always enjoyed hiking, I never quite thought about the work that goes into maintaining the trails. I have only worked a couple of trail days thus far, but I can now say I will never look at a cut log on the side of a trail the same. During one of the trail days, Mike and I worked to saw a series of blow downs on a particularly hot day, upon success this accomplishment was more rewarding then I would have expected.

This summer is already turning out to be one of my most productive and enjoyable ones yet. I look forward to many more accomplishments and experiences throughout the rest of the summer and into the fall. 

Kim is from from Deland, Florida. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. Click here to read Kim's bio.

July 13, 2018

Becca

In my last journal back in May I kind of made it sound like I was leaving Squam in 2 weeks even though I knew I had a whole summer ahead of me. I had a feeling these few months would fly by just as they did last year around this time. If you want to know how much I love the SLA and AmeriCorps check out that entry. This journal, however, will focus on something I haven’t talked about much in my journals… kiosks.

Back in November one of the projects I was very excited to work on was creating a new kiosk design for our trailheads. Due to other emerging needs, this project always seemed to get pushed to the side. I would work on it a bit here and there, but never really saw much progress in the winter months. Finally, throughout the month of June I was able to devote a large chuck of my time to developing a new kiosk design. I created a brand new layout for the Whitten Woods trail network kiosk. It was a great feeling to make a layout worthy of being passed along for future use. Being able to contribute to another side of SLA’s mission that I did not expect when I first started as an AmeriCorps member is really inspiring and exciting. Fingers crossed that we get this new kiosk installed before my term here is up and when I come back to visit next time I hope that additional kiosks will be input as well!

I couldn’t end my last journal ever without a big thank you to everyone I met at SLA and because of the SLA: interns from 2017, the first group of lurkers (our internal nickname for the LRCC members), our current LRCC members extending to SLCS and LRCT, all the staff of the SLA, and every hiker, camper, and boater that I met out in the field. The knowledge and experience I gained from all of you shaped me into a better person and hopefully a more successful conservation professional. I will miss this place like crazy, but I know I will always have Squam Lake as a second home!

Becca is from Chicago, Illinois. This is her second summer with SLA and her first summer with the Lakes Region Conservation Corps! She graduated from Illinois State University with a BA in Biological Sciences and a minor in Environmental Science. Click here to read Becca's bio.

July 5, 2018

Mike

Hello! My name is Michael Hoffman! I am currently one of the AmeriCorps Members serving with the Squam Lakes Association under the Lakes Region Conservation Corps.  I traveled up here from my hometown in Pennsville, New Jersey a little over two months ago. There have been a lot of great turning points in my life and the short time I’ve so far spent with the SLA has been a time of my life. We do a diversity of service, ranging from doing trail maintenance on one of the 50 plus miles of trails we manage in the Squam region or diving 10-feet down pulling variable milfoil out of Bennett Cove. Every single day is an adventure and a lesson. The ability to utilize my knowledge of ecology, conservation, and environmental education all while experiencing my inconceivable passion for the outdoors is an experience all in its own.

This passion of mine most likely developed from being in the Boy Scouts of America most of my life and fulfilling the ultimate achievement of obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout. Following the Boy Scouts, going to college and receiving my B.S. in Environmental Science from Stockton University. Recently, I ran a youth educational program with the campers of the Junior Squam Lakes Association (JSLA). The topic of the program was an Ecological Scavenger Hunt. Myself, nineteen youth campers of all ages, and the respective camp leaders canoed and kayaked out to Moon Island. The campers had 30 minutes to identify 8 various trees and or plants. I will say, I was impressed how well the campers knew their trees! However, they did have an incentive of ice cold popsicles if they completed the list! What hit me the most during this program was seeing familiar expressions on the campers’ faces of how I felt when I was their age and reflecting on those moments that truly ignited my passion for the outdoors as a kid. I am beyond humbled to have been selected with the rest of the members here with the Lakes Region Conservation Corps and continue to look forward to delivering the mission of the SLA in the coming months!

Mike is from Pennsville, New Jersey. He graduated from Stockton University with a B.S. in Environmental Science. Click here to read Mike's bio.

June 28, 2018

Maggie

When I started my service with the SLA back in November, I never expected how much I would love Squam Lake. After spending the winter here and seeing the fall landscape turn to an icy winter wonderland, I couldn't imagine this place getting any more beautiful. Oh boy was I wrong! Being a part of the transition from winter to summer was incredible, and it’s not just because of the spectacular views, but because of how much life at the SLA changed in such a short amount of time.

Now that the seasons have changed, we at the SLA began our yearly fight against the aquatic invasive plant, variable milfoil. Becoming SCUBA certified to remove milfoil is the coolest thing I have done here. Swimming has always been my favorite summer activity and now I get to experience it in an entirely new way.  I have always been one to stay in the water as long as I can, now with the proper equipment I can do just that! The first time I took a breath underwater it was surreal. It was even more surreal when I found myself being followed by hungry fish waiting for me to pull the next plant so they could search the sediment for their lunch. Despite it being hard work since we dive multiple times a week, removing milfoil has proven to be one of the best parts about serving at the SLA. Not only is it fun, but I know I’m actually making a difference in getting rid of milfoil from the watershed.

Between long dive days, weekend camping trips, trail work, and independent projects, saying we are busy would be an understatement. I’ve had the opportunity to help with not only aquatic invasive removal but also terrestrial invasive removal. It’s been an ongoing battle attempting to combat species such as oriental bittersweet, multiflora rose, as well as invasive honeysuckle. Together with our amazing volunteers, we have hosted multiple terrestrial invasive removal days at the SLA. So far they have primarily taken place on campus, where oriental bittersweet is well established. We hope that over time we can control this invasive problem and promote the growth of native plants around our campus.

The summer season is in full swing and all of us are working hard to help the SLA staff with their conservation initiatives.  I’m so happy that we have taken on four more AmeriCorps members that are all passionate and excited about the work being done at the SLA. With more people ready to work it’s going to be amazing to see all that we are able to get done this summer.

Maggie is from Swampscott, Massachusetts. She is serving her second service term with the Lakes Region Conservation Corps program at the SLA. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts- Amherst with a degree in Natural Resource Conservation. Click here to read Maggie's bio.

June 21, 2018

Connor N.

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

Kyle

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

Erica

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

Ben

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.

2018 Summer/Fall LRCC Bios

Becca

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!

 

 

 

Ben

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!

 

 

 

Connor N. 

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.

 

Connor P.

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.


Erica

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.

 

Erin

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.

 

 

 

Kyle

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!


Kim

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.

 

 

Maggie

My name is Maggie, I grew up in Swampscott Massachusetts,  a small but beautiful seaside community north of Boston. I have always loved the outdoors and have spent a lot of my time hiking and enjoying the natural environment. This love of the outdoors followed me to college where I obtained a bachelor of science in Natural Resource Conservation from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  In my spare time I enjoy gardening and tending to my many plants, cooking with my friends, swimming, camping, and identifying birds and other wildlife. I am incredibly passionate about conservation, environmental education, and outreach.

 

 

 

 

 

Michael

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.