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.
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.
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.
Join our LRCC members for weekly guided hikes, volunteer opportunities, and environmental programs. Learn more by clicking here.