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.
August 26, 2016
Thinking back to the beginning of the internship, everything that occurred in those first few weeks seems so far away, yet at the same time it feels like the summer has flown by in the blink of an eye. It’s crazy to think how much we have accomplished, grown, and bonded over the course of this summer. Ever since the first couple of days, all of us interns immediately seemed to click and, since then, our relationships have grown immensely, and I know they will continue to grow even after we have all gone our separate ways.
I am leaving this internship with a newfound appreciation for all of the work that goes into preserving an area such as Squam. From trail work in the mountains surrounding the lake to hand pulling variable milfoil, there is so much to be done to help conserve this stunning place. One aspect of this internship I really enjoyed was doing water quality testing on the lake. A couple times a week, some of us would take a boat out to a certain area of Squam and conduct small tests of the water, ranging from YSI readings that measure the water’s dissolved oxygen content to Secchi disk readings that measure water clarity. Additionally, we are always on the lookout for any algae that could potentially cause any issues within the lake. A very common type of algae seen on Squam is filamentous green algae. Underwater, this algae appears in large, green, cloud-like masses. Filamentous green algae is a completely normal occurrence, and nothing to worry about, as the most it can do is be somewhat annoying for recreational activities like swimming and boating. However, seeing this algae gives us a little insight into the chemistry of the water because, typically, there is more algae growth in areas where there is excessive phosphorus in the water (from things such as fertilizers and runoff).
I have learned so much this summer, from things like boating and trail work to little details about myself. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to spend my summer on Squam and help conserve it every day. This internship and especially the new friends I have made have significantly impacted my life in such a short amount of time, and that’s something I will be forever appreciative of. And that’s a wrap on an amazing Squam Lake summer.
Olivia is from Florida and is a rising senior at Florida State University pursuing a biology degree.