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 2, 2015
Squam. What a place. The first time I had ever been to New Hampshire I was on my way to Maine for a ski trip with my friends. We called it ‘shackville’ because every single house had a shack (not because people lived in shacks). It was just a state you had to drive through to get to Maine. It was almost like I thought of New Hampshire as an inconvenience filled with snow and way too many trees. This was only about three years ago and I held that first impression until I finally got around to coming up here. Dear lord was that a horrible preconceived idea. It’s gorgeous up here. Rolling hills, valleys, and mountains. Beautiful.
When reading the description for the internship online it sounded fun and I thought, “Hey worst case scenario I will get a ton of experience with a bunch of new things.” I wasn’t wrong. I think that’s exactly what I’m going to get, but life here is not even beginning to approach a worst case scenario. They said that we wouldn’t get paid but I feel like I’m stealing from the Association. I have free living, free food, lake front property, boats, kayaks, scuba equipment, camp sites and more. Plus, we’re still in training so our whole group of eight is able to do everything together and it’s a great way to make this place really feel like home. Also, I didn’t expect to be studying so soon after school, but it’s good knowledge to have and it makes a good bonding experience for everyone. Then there’s the work. Of course there will be hard work; there already has been. I’m not worried about coming home after diving for a full day completely exhausted and going right to sleep. In fact I’m sure I will come to love it. The feeling of working hard for a week straight on something that’s as important as conservation is just what I want.
It’s such a harsh cliché to say something along those lines, but it’s true. I think that we all have ideas and expectations on how things are supposed to go, how we are supposed to be growing, what is happening next in our lives and that’s all right. However, I think it clouds reality a little every time we do that and sometimes we can get stuck in a schedule where that’s all we are doing or thinking about. Your vision of life and yourself gets warped and foggy the more you analyze it. Squam is the antithesis to this fogginess. Squam through some miracle, whether it’s the miles of fresh water or absolutely stunning lake fronts, has avoided this sort of rigid mold that sets people’s focus only on the future. Squam is my personal definition of present. Learning how to cut wood and put a dock together isn’t for the future. Sure, it’s a skill I can use in the future, but that dock has to be built now because it’s going to become a piece of the life of Squam.
This is a sort of regurgitation of some quick thoughts and feelings about how my time has been so far, but this internship is quickly becoming one of the most important things I’ve done. I’ve only been here a few weeks and it’s doing something to me. I’m not sure what and so far it’s pretty subtle, but Squam is doing some Squammy thing that I’m sure it’s done to thousands of people before me, and I couldn’t be any happier.
Kyle is from Rochester, NY and is a Chemistry student at the State University of Oswego with a minor in Creative Writing.