Intern Journal- Coral

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 unpaid 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, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Learn more about the internship program here. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed.

Whether it be the reign of native plants, new loon chicks (see picture), clean water, SLA staff, or the simple beauty of our watershed, there is always something to celebrate here. SquamLake heroes are all around us, even though we don’t necessarily recognize their presence all the time. Let’s talk about some of the unspoken champions of Squam Lake: the oh-so-luxurious composting toilets.
Flashback to the first time the intern crew camped out on Bowman Island. I had to use the bathroom at one point, which prompted Rebecca to direct me to a composting toilet located close to our campsite. I had stumbled upon what looked to be a rather odd supply closet of sorts. Sawdust in a metal garbage can? I mean, there’s a toilet in here but why is there a shovel as well?  Are you 100% sure this is a bathroom?! I figured I had entered the wrong place, but to my surprise, this actually was the bathroom. Sawdust and all. Composting toilets are rather quirky to say the least, and have become a facet of the SLA that I have learned to know and love (I use the term “love” loosely). I didn’t even know what a Clivus Multrum was before this internship and what I do know now is that I appreciate their existence on an astronomical level (nothing personal, bucket system).
The other day I had been so fortunately summoned to clean all of the composting toilets by myself on a relentlessly hot morning with winds that only the very agitated Zeus could have conjured. Emptying buckets full of human feces into composting bins while mosquitos gather around your sweat-covered forehead isn’t exactly the most glorious job out there, but it is a rather humbling experience. After 4 hours of misery, dedication, sweat, blood, and tears (okay, subtract the last two), I was feeling surprisingly fulfilled.  The use of composting toilets not only have an enormous positive impact on the watershed, but they also set a constructive example for other aspiring environmentalists to follow in our footsteps.  Even though the act of composting human waste makes me want to burn off my work clothes sometimes, I know that what I am doing is all worth it for our lake. If there’s anything I’ve learned as an intern, it’s the simple idea that sustainability is always something to celebrate. Rock on composting toilets; you are the subtle heroes of the Squam Lakes watershed.

Read more Intern Journal entries here.