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.
August 28, 2017
This past week has been full of “lasts” for us interns of summer 2017. Many of us have experienced our last dive day, last milfoil plant pulled, last s’more eaten while camping, and the list goes on. It had become my privilege to write the last intern journal for this summer’s interns and yet I am at a loss for words. How can I sum up everything that Squam Lake has become to me, and furthermore how these nine, beautiful, intelligent, caring, and crazy people I call my fellow interns have quickly become some of my favorite people in this world? I was confronted with many “lasts” as I finished up my final work day with pulling the invasive terrestrial bittersweet and checking in campers with Becca, but I was comforted with remembering some of my “firsts.”
The first time we drove the boats (after completing all of our licensing) went as smoothly as it could have as each boat was filled with a few clueless interns, an experienced driver (Brett, Rebecca, Katri, or Maggie G.), and a map. With little to no instruction we were told to navigate to the islands. Normally this boat ride takes no more than 20 minutes, but as we navigated around the rocky portions of the lake and encircled the island at least once we realized that after an hour that those were indeed the islands we wanted to go to. Not to worry, our boating skills have increased tremendously. The map of the Squam Lakes given to us during orientation might as well be printed to the back of our eyelids.
The first time we went camping was filled with lopping and raking as Becca, Nate, Eric, and I cleared the trails on Bowman Island. This is a tedious but necessary task so that people will stay on trails and not veer off, with the hope that this will protect the island’s natural ecosystems. The first night, Betsy the raccoon snuck up on us. Naturally, I ran up on the tent platform screaming, because that seemed like the only logical thing to do. The last night of camping she came back, tearing through our food and taking Eric’s bag deep into the woods. Unfortunately for me, this would be far from my last incident with the raccoons. In fact, I would see them so frequently that I have come to be known as “the Raccoon Whisperer.”
The first time we dove in Winnipesaukee was (for a lack of better words) interesting. I have never felt a cold that reached so deep into my bones until that day as we sat on the bottom of the lake surrounded by silt so thick I could barely see Alice one foot away from me. Regardless, diving since that day has only gotten better. We started out clumsily putting together our total dive systems, falling over as we pulled our wetsuits on, and constantly coming up and down as we tried to figure out our buoyancy. Now, we could probably put our systems together with our eyes closed, and as for most of us, putting on our wetsuits on is no hard task (yes I am talking about you Becca), and we have gotten our buoyancy down so well that some of us can stay down for over 3 hours (4 if you’re Tamara).
I am sad to say goodbye to a place as welcoming as the Squam Lakes. I will miss our morning commutes to dive sites and waving to the passing boats filled with fellow lovers of the lake. I will miss the teachings of Brett, Rebecca, and Katri. I cannot thank them enough for showing us the ropes and being patient with us as we failed and triumphed at helping to preserve this place. Thank you to the lake for opening my eyes to something worth fighting for. Mostly, I will miss the company of my fellow interns. Thank you to them for helping me figure out my role in the group. I am the cleaner, the secret emotional, the raccoon whisperer, and lastly, a dear friend and forever visitor to the Squam Lakes Association.
Dominique is rising junior at Plymouth State University studying Environmental Biology and minoring in Sustainability. Click here to read Dominique's bio.