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 15, 2016
Coming into this internship, diving was the thing I was the most excited for and the most apprehensive about. I had grown up near the ocean all my life but I had never even snorkeled before, so the idea of breathing underwater for an extended period of time was pretty nerve-racking. I had butterflies in my stomach during our first day of dive training, and the more time I spent in the water, those butterflies turned into a constant feeling of anxiety. Breathing underwater on its own was unnatural, but then there was the added stress of having to repeatedly remove the hose from my mouth that supplied me with life sustaining air, and let it float in the water so I could practice retrieving it. However, after a couple of days in the pool, and 2 days diving in Winnipesaukee I felt like was ready to start diving in Squam for milfoil.
But on our first day of weed control diving, all my excitement turned into anxiety and then to frustration and anger. Nothing seemed to go the way I wanted. I couldn’t maintain the proper buoyancy; I either sunk all the way to the bottom or I was rising to the surface against my will. Every time I attempted to move I just kicked up the silt on the bottom of the river, making it impossible to see. Even holding the bag open while trying to remove a milfoil plant from the ground proved to be difficult. I was dreading the rest of the summer where I would be diving 2-3 three times a week.
But with each dive I did as this summer has progressed, I got more and more accustomed to diving and simply moving underwater. Instead of feeling like I was constantly fighting an invisible force, it began to feel like something natural that I had been doing for years. I have gotten better each dive at pulling milfoil, which is crucial because I want to limit any fragmentation in the plants I pull and I want to maintain visibility. I now look forward to each dive day on Squam. It feels good knowing that I am not only doing something I enjoy, but I am helping protect the lake as well. Diving has really shown me that I can’t just give up because I don’t like something the first couple of times I try it. Rather, it makes the whole experience so much more valuable knowing what I went through to get to where I am now.
Jordan is from Salisbury, Maryland, and studies Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Maryland in College Park.