The Squam Conservation Internship provides skills and experience for future conservation professionals while working as the driving force behind the SLA’s conservation mission. This volunteer internship provides hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities. Interns serve as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, work toward the eradication of variable milfoil, help preserve loon populations on Squam, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed. Learn more about the internship program here.
July 29, 2017
I struggle to find the right words to describe what this summer has been to me. It has been so unique in so many ways. This job is the kind of job I dreamed of when I was a little kid. I am sure that sounds preposterous, as 90% of what we do is hard manual labor involving, but by no means limited to: hauling buckets of poop around, hiking heavy tools up mountains, and splitting wood. I recognize how comical it is to know that 7 year old me, who could have had aspirations of being a veterinarian, professional actor, or tennis professional, dreamed of running around in the woods and getting dirty for a living.
I have come to accept that I do not know where professional life will take me. In college it was nice to think that I had a reasonable life plan. A life plan with probably more wiggle room for change than the average college senior. But not since I was a kid did I imagine I would be working somewhere like this. I have experienced firsthand the impact a small number of individuals can make on the community and environment. Variable Milfoil, an invasive that’s growth speed brings to mind things like kelp, has actually decreased in abundance. We never say the words “elimination” when speaking about invasive removal, but rather “control.” However, “control” seems like a word of stasis, with the relative abundance neither going up or down. What it comes down to is this: I am optimistic.
Along with the positive impact on the environment the Squam Lakes Association (SLA) has had, it has had an impact on me. I have learned an incredible amount about myself, and the person I aspire to be, through my interactions with the incredible people I work with. This starts with my fellow Interns. My colleagues who all have very different aspirations than my own, extremely different personalities, and the same drive to conserve this lake. Although the work here is rewarding, these 9 individuals have made this summer unforgettable. The interns themselves to not make the SLA. There is JSLA staff, the camp staff that encourages young kids to connect with the lake and surrounding area. There is the Community Youth Sailing Program, which was responsible for leading Elizabeth on her path to finding this internship. And finally, there is the staff of the SLA. The people who taught and mentored all of us throughout this summer. People who care for the health of the lake so much that they have spent years devoting their life to stewardship. Even though E.B’s son calls us superheroes, these are the people I think wear that title best.
Alice is from Durham, North Carolina. She graduated from Goucher College in May of 2017 where she majored in biology and minored in chemistry. Click here to read her bio.