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.
I suppose as the summer comes to a close it would be a good time to reflect on everything that has happened and how my being at Squam Lake this summer has impacted me. Short version: in every way a person can be impacted. This internship has been everything I thought it would be plus more. My first week here it was strange thinking that I would be put in charge of driving a boat. Who would let me do that? Recently when driving the infamous ‘Millie’ to dive sites early in the morning I would think about how I got to where I was. It’s something that everyone does now and then, just a quick look back at the steps that lead to where you have gotten to. It’s strange. I signed up for the internship on a whim, and at this point I couldn’t even begin to imagine what I would have done differently.
I’m naturally an introvert and have always erred on the side of personal time with the occasional social smidge. Squam fit me perfectly. I was able to go camping by myself, eat breakfast with everyone in the morning, have personal time contemplating how many blisters I would get chopping wood, eat dinner with everyone, and then have a night to either relax or hang out in the common room with everyone. It was all at my fingertips. You would be surprised how much planning and thinking you can get done when you are sifting through milfoil for a couple hours. Alright, maybe that’s not so hard to understand, but it doesn’t make it any less valuable.
The skills I have learned here have transcended every possible thought I could have had on what I would learn. I feel like I can do anything. I’m unstoppable. Aside from the many instantly applicable skills, most importantly I’ve really learned what it is like to be a part of a work force. Not in the sense that having a job makes you a part of the work force, but the full integration of many people doing the same work as efficiently and best they can so that a seemingly impossible task becomes an everyday accomplishment. I can see the fruits of my efforts every single day, and I’m not the only one.
The people I see every day are Squam. That sounds strange, but it’s true. The natural beauty and serene waters are only as good as those you share them with. Whether it’s a quick hand wave to a fellow boater, or an intimate campfire with my best friends here (my coworkers), the energy I have felt has been nothing but positive. It’s inspiring to feel that you are in the right place, and as I get older I realize that it’s becoming harder and harder to feel as if I’m truly at home. Squam has opened its doors to me and accepted me as one of its own. I can only imagine that coming here this summer is what it must be like for a shelter animal to be brought into a house filled with every form of love that can be bestowed upon a simple animal. We are all animals. We all want to feel at home. I am so happy to have found another place aside from my little house in New York that I can call home. This has been the adventure of a lifetime.