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.
June 15, 2015
We have been living and working on Squam for over three weeks, but it feels like a year. Together we have accomplished so much, from earning our scuba diving certification to building an incredibly strong community. A fly on our wall would see a group of productive, driven, and incredibly jovial people who, I believe, have already become life long friends. I was made distinctly aware of the strength of our little community by the addition of the JSLA staff earlier this week. Seeing them arrive, having no prior connections or shared experiences, reminded me of those days when we were first living together, which feel so long ago. We awkwardly played as many board games and card games as we could think of until we truly became familiar with each other, and now we have as much fun together as any group I have been a part of.
Our period of training is almost over, and we have been hard at work refining our boat driving skills and learning to pull insidious milfoil properly while underwater. Today, I went to the river that drains Little Squam with Sydney, Ryan, Dougie, Caroline, and Rebecca and learned to pull milfoil with a DASH (Diver Assisted Suction Harvester) system. It was surreal. Not only are we breathing underwater, we are breathing an unlimited amount of air from the surface. Two at a time, in full wetsuit gear, we pulled twenty gallons of invasive, harmful, insidious milfoil. It is an experience like no other. For the first few minutes, I struggled with my buoyancy, floating up and down with no control, but soon I settled into this new aquatic environment. Straddling our suction pipes, we descended upon a seemingly endless forest of slowly waving, milfoil plants. For hours, we laid on the river bottom, picking milfoil one plant at a time. After a few minutes, visibility is zero, and the only thing you are aware of is the stem of the milfoil plant and the not-so-gentle suction of the pipe.
I have been in the water for one day, and today, while in the shower, I felt the milfoil swaying around me. My father once told me that living out in the wilderness can lead to detailed, almost mythological dreams. I cannot wait to see what the self reflective Zen of milfoil harvesting will result in.
Julian is from New Jersey and is studying studying Organismal and Ecological Biology at Colorado College.