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.
JUNE 16, 2016
I have been hiking all of my life, but I never really put much thought into how much hard work went into making the trails I hiked a possibility. It wasn’t until the second week of training for the internship when we learned the basics of trail maintenance that I began to wrap my mind around how much time and energy goes into making every step along a trail possible. There is so much to be done: cutting back branches and leaves that grow onto the trail, digging out water bars to ensure water is properly directed off of the trail, and putting up blazes and signs so that hikers stay on the right path. And that only includes the stuff required to maintain trails that already exists; a single rock that is used as a stepping stone to help people get up a mountain can sometimes take up to 4 hours to move and put in place.
The true wake-up call was my second day of doing trail work, where instead of going up the trail with 10 people, there were now only three of us. A hike that would normally have taken 30 minutes turned into a 3-hour trip as we slowly made our way up the trail with our tools in hand. It was slow hard work, but when we finished we felt a sense of pride in what we had accomplished, even though we didn’t cover too much mileage. This experience helped me appreciate all the work done to maintain trails across the country, but it especially allowed me to appreciate all the hard work from the volunteers in the Squam region who help maintain the trails; without them it wouldn’t be possible. I think people often overlook the fact that it is rarely the employees of organizations that do a lot of the hard labor that is required to keep trails in usable conditions, but instead are the dedicated volunteers.
Jordan is from Salisbury, Maryland and studies Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Maryland in College Park.