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 29, 2016
I happened to be part of the first dive crew in June that went out without Connor, Rebecca, or Brett. “What could go wrong after a month of training?” we said. After a smooth morning of hand pulling milfoil, we started up the DASH. Around 1pm, the diver bobbed up above the water and said something to the tender in the kayak, who signaled for me to cut the DASH motor. It turned out the hose started to suck in some of the bottom muck, then quickly gained momentum and sucked up about 15 feet of silt and sand, rendering the suction on the hose useless, as well as making the end section of the hose so heavy that we couldn’t pull it up from the bottom of the lake. I think this was the day that I realized this summer would be full of unexpected problems, (mainly with boats and engines, I would come to understand), that we interns would have to troubleshoot, try everything we know, and if none of that worked, make the call of shame to Brett, SLA’s Director of Recreation and a civil engineer. In this case, it took us nearly 2 hours to get the hose off the bottom (Stevie managed to clip a buoy to the end), get the sand out of the hose (the first attempt was to unhook the clogged section and suck it out from the other end – turns out sand is too dense for this. We ended up hauling it onto the boat – so heavy! – and banging the sand out against the side of the boat), and decontaminate the muck and milfoil that we had dragged up onto our boats and in the hoses.
Scenario two. Much later into the summer, Stevie and I were enjoying some nice loon chick watching of a 1-day old chick in Hodges cove. When we decided to head back, Calypso’s engine wouldn’t start. We sighed, resigned. This was not the first time this had happened this weekend. We got through this one without making the call of shame – we checked for kinked gas lines, pumped the hose, burped the gas tank, took the engine out of neutral and put it back in, changed gas tanks, took a break (the loon chick had dismounted the parents back!), and eventually found that we could leave the gas cap off the tank and the engine would stay running.
Scenario three. A small rip on the tape measure for our water quality Secchi disk is growing larger, which when completely ripped, would leave our Secchi disk plummeting to the bottom of the lake, and we would be woefully clueless about the turbidity level of the water. Okay, so this is not such a big problem. Given that our only tape-like solution on the boat were band aids, a knot and some measurement subtraction sufficed.
At the beginning of this internship, I wouldn’t have guessed that such a large and important aspect of our summer would be troubleshooting. As Brett said to us on our very first day, we are response-able, something that has been quoted many a time by us interns throughout the summer as we come across another conundrum and figure out a solution. Maybe our job title should actually read: conservation intern and professional troubleshooter. Or maybe, we’re just learning the ways of the working world.
Maggie grew up in New Hampshire and is a rising junior at St. Lawrence University i majoring in Conservation Biology with a Global Studies minor.