Conservation Journal: Kyle

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.

January 10, 2018

Kyle

To be honest, it can sometimes be difficult writing these journals. It’s not because there’s nothing to say or that I can’t find the words to describe what we’re doing, it’s because sometimes you get so swept up into the flow of things it can be jarring to stay still and reflect on everything that’s been going on in your life.

Our lives as LRCC members are very cumulative. We are constantly learning or being trained in new skills that either help us develop even more new skills or are something we need to keep in our ‘talent toolbox’, ready to be whipped out at a moments notice. It’s a lot like math. Both require a lot of information that needs to be deeply ingrained in order to properly grow as an expert. Some of these skills are incredibly important to know, but will hopefully never have to be used such as how to properly act if you fall through ice on the lake.

The unfortunate thing about being taught or reading up about something new is that it isn’t truly learned until it is put into practice, and most times practice lends itself to mistakes. That’s how we learn. It can make the learning process slower when we cannot make those mistakes, such as dealing with thin ice on the lake or with chainsaw training. The learning process needs to be halted the instant the scale tips towards ‘incorrect’ in order to be safe. Luckily for us, there aren’t that many skills at that level.

A recent learning experience involved ice harvesting at Rockywold Deephaven Camps. It was fantastic. It was right after the cold snap so the ice was in good form. The other LRCC members and I donned our microspikes and set off onto the ice. It’s comforting seeing a truck and multiple huts sitting safely on the surface. Once we got close enough to see the actual ice being harvested any doubt about being on the surface of the lake were pushed aside as fifteen inch cubes bobbed by with hooked poles following closely. As always, you can never be one-hundred percent sure about being safe from falling through ice (unless you are at a skating arena), but in this situation any fear or trepidation was instead replaced by a low-key vigilance.

Watching the workers cut the ice and move it into the truck had me thinking about how much time, effort, pain, and practice went into ice harvesting. The first people to do it were pioneers of the skill and had to learn everything through practice. Almost all skills with any amount of danger or attention to safety had to start somewhere. It becomes beautiful when you realize that the accumulation of generations upon generations of knowledge learned and taught allow us to be in the position we are today. Safety standards and precautions are there for a reason, and some people in the past may have unfortunately lost their lives practicing skills such as ice harvesting. But humans learn best from mistakes and seeing where things go wrong. It’s important to embrace mistakes when the consequences are low, and to appreciate knowing when to stop when the consequences are high.

At the end of the day I can say that I am proud to be another link in the chain of knowledge that grows between each generation, and I can’t wait to help the younger generations build upon what I learn.

Kyle is from Rochester, New York. He is working towards a degree in Chemistry from SUNY Oswego. Click here to read Kyle's bio.

Join Kyle for a guided hike and discussion on winter tree identification on January 27th. Learn more by clicking here.

 

READ MORE CONSERVATION JOURNALS HERE.