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 11, 2016
I’ve never extensively worked with tools. Call me ignorant or sheltered, but the retail and office jobs I previously held rarely required their use. As a conservation intern, my frequent use of tools has led me to a naive conclusion. Simple machines are wondrous! They may not be the building blocks of all mechanics (something I recall being taught in elementary school) but that in no way dilutes their impressive nature. Most days with the SLA I get the pleasure of working with simple machines.
All of these simple machines are used in the upkeep of SLA’s campgrounds, trails, grounds, and boats. We use a screw system to level the docks, pulleys to raise the composting toilet buckets, and wedges to ease the labor of sawing downed trees. As in all areas of work, there is always unforeseen maintenance that must be completed. My first weekend of caretaking duties on Bowman Island required that I saw and move three downed trees, level both of the docks, and replace a toilet seat in one of the bathrooms—all in addition to my regular caretaking duties. All these processes take time, but I find that they also allow for reflection.
My favorite example of unanticipated maintenance and the use of tools is the day we spent working on Millie (the milfoil boat). She’d sustained some serious injuries during a gusty dive day. The back of the Diver Assisted Suction Harvest (DASH) system required a new board and the bow spud hole needed reinforcement. Without fixing it, we would not have been able to use the DASH system to remove milfoil from the lake. Brett Durham, Director of Recreation, spent the entire day guiding us interns through the process and patiently explaining to me the proper use of many of the tools in the shop. By 6 PM that evening we had Millie back in the water and ready for more milfoil extraction. I cherish that day due to its value as a learning experience and look forward to many more days of unanticipated labor and learning.
Katri is from Arlington, Virginia and spent the summers of her childhood on Squam Lake. She graduated from Colby College in May 2015 with a BA in the field of government.