The Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) is an AmeriCorps service program that 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. Click here to learn more about the LRCC program.
March 8, 2019
In the corner of the SLA’s AmeriCorps office there’s a marked-up whiteboard with a list of “Friday Duties” scrawled on it. The items listed include tasks such as sweeping the shop, restocking forms, and chopping wood, among others. In short, this is our chore list; a reminder of what we need to get done in order to keep things running smoothly.
This week, instead of writing about the many trail-work excursions, education programs, and water quality sampling outings I’ve participated in throughout the last four months, I wanted to take some time to highlight the mundane—the “unexciting” aspects of our daily lives at the SLA. I’m talking about the kind of stuff we don’t put on our posters or mention when faced with the inevitable “what exactly do you do at the SLA?”. And why, you may be wondering, do I want to talk about this? Because although this kind of work may not be glamorous, it’s an equally important part of our roles as LRCC members.
One of the key responsibilities on the “Friday Duties” list is taking a week’s worth of recycling and trash to the dump. Depending on what kind of events the SLA has hosted that week, this could mean throwing 7-8 massive trash bags (along with any other miscellaneous junk) into the back of our truck and driving it over to the Holderness Town Dump.
Now, this may sound strange, but I absolutely love going on dump runs. I always see it as a nice break from whatever I’m working on that day—a chance to take a short drive, sing along to the radio, and even check out the Swap Shop to see if they’ve gotten any new books or board games. Although it can be disheartening to see the amount of waste we generate, there’s also a strange sense of renewal that comes with putting fresh garbage bags into the bins and throwing our old trash and recyclables down the shoot. It’s sort of an “out with the old, in with the new” kind of feeling.
And this feeling leads me to the first of two reasons why I actually look forward to Friday Duties: they can be a way to re-center and balance ourselves after a long week of service. With the go-go-go style of work we do, the days can sometimes merge together into an undistinguishable blur. If we weren’t required to keep track of how we spend our time for logging service hours, sometimes I doubt I’d be able to recall what had happened only a day or two ago. These end-of-week tasks offer an opportunity to step back, take a breathe, and prepare for the upcoming week and any challenges that may come with it.
My second reason is that I recognize that these small, practical tasks can have larger effects. A clean Great Room becomes an inviting space to welcome visitors to the SLA. A company car with a full tank of gas ensures that we’re on time to meet volunteers for trail-work days. And although they may be called “Friday Duties”, this routine maintenance and upkeep is something that we do a little of each day. In the big picture, within the field of conservation—where our efforts to combat the challenges facing our environment can often feel like uphill battles—it’s important to recognize the value of constant and routine work. So even though our work isn’t always exciting, this appreciation for the “small stuff,” the seemingly menial tasks, is something that I intend to carry with me wherever I go after my time with the LRCC.
Adel is living and loving life in NH. You can often spot her playing in the snow, chatting about Freddie Mercury, or watching Spaghetti Westerns. You can read more about Adel here.
Join our LRCC members for weekly guided hikes, volunteer opportunities, and environmental programs. Learn more by clicking here.