Conservation Journal: Meghan

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 15, 2018

Meghan

It’s been a while since I had the privilege of writing a Conservation Journal, and I’m sad to share that this will be my final contribution, as my time here at the Squam Lakes Association will come to an end in the beginning of April. So it seems fitting to present my highlight reel from this AmeriCorps program, funny stories and poignant moments to give you a glimpse into the countless things I’ve learned in my time here.

Independent projects have been a staple for us LRCC members since the beginning. I know I’ve said before that water quality is one of my biggest intellectual curiosities, so naturally I ended up with three independent projects that fit under that umbrella category. I’m particularly proud of the work that I (along with my fellow LRCC member Ben) have put in to the Toxics project. The two of us have learned how to write a Quality Assurance Protection Plan (QAPP) for the EPA, extensively read academic literature, and created a toxins sampling plan for this upcoming summer. This project has a special place in my heart because it helped me solidify my future academic goals. I’m excited to observe from afar the extensive collaboration (shout out to our friends at the Loon Preservation Committee and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services) that will occur on this wonderful lake!

This AmeriCorps program has also further solidified my need to work in an outdoor environment. From the miles walked through the forests, along the Crawford Ridgepole Trail, clambering through the caves at the top of Mount Morgan, and trekking through Chamberlin Reynolds by the light of the blue-blood-super moon. I’ve always been a kid who loved being outside, and the addition of snow this winter made time outside even sweeter! Becca and I were the two designated snow people during this past Nor’easter, and I’ll tell you, there aren’t words to describe standing in the middle of the Chamberlin Reynolds West Parking lot at 5:30 in the morning in the complete silence, continually spinning in circles to try to soak up every last glimpse of the snow globe. Besides being so pretty to look at and so distracting when trying to get work done while it’s peacefully falling, snow also helps us to keep better track of the natural world around us, through the preservation of tracks!

Connor and Ben are both working with the app iNaturalist, and therefore all seven of us eagerly look for wildlife and tracks to catalog. One morning, every single employee of the SLA ended up crowded around the glass doors in the Great Room, staring out into Piper Cove. There was a bit of open water near the big rock at the entrance to the cove, and two bald eagles were circling, trying to catch a poor duck. The duck kept diving while the eagles sat on the edge of the ice waiting for it to come back. Ultimately, the duck never resurfaced. In less gruesome news, Erin, Connor and I have seen so many different tracks on our hikes - chipmunk, turkey, rabbit, dog (not wolf, Connor...), raccoon, and other various birds.

Before becoming an LRCC member, I was completely clueless in operating a chainsaw, splitting wood, driving a plow truck, all things regarding ice safety, using a Microsoft Access database (shout out to Erin and all the hours spent with the water quality data that our volunteers collect, we appreciate you!), maintaining and creating a trail network that minimizes erosion and increases public access to the watershed, and shoveling out a composting toilet. I promise you this program has taught me even more than that, but excessive lists are tiring to read. I’m honored (but also nervous) to have the privilege to speak at the AmeriCorps Service Week event at the State House this Friday. Hopefully I can paint an eloquent picture for everyone else in the room so they can comprehend how amazing the life of a Lakes Region Conservation Corps member is!

I couldn’t be more grateful for the five months that absolutely flew by at our little paradise of a lake, and I know this place will continue to draw me back for visits for years to come. Hopefully see you all at the Ridge Race in September!

Meghan is from Sleepy Hollow, California. She graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in environmental studies. Click here to read Meghan's bio.

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

 

READ MORE CONSERVATION JOURNALS HERE.