Intern Journal: Stephen

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.

June 21, 2017

Stephen

These first four weeks have gone by fast. During my time at Squam, I have been certified in wilderness first aid, commercial boating, and just yesterday scuba diving. Even though I come from a water sport background, the scuba certification was most troublesome for me. Our first dives in the frigid waters of Winnipesaukee left me with a new standard for cold. Besides the relentless cold, I also had difficulty clearing my ears with the water pressure.

Now that I am scuba certified, I can assist in SLA’s mission to remove variable milfoil from Squam Lake. When not controlled, milfoil takes over shallow waterways and chokes out other aquatic life. If left, milfoil can become severed and entangled on the props of boats. Milfoil fragments can drift far distances, before anchoring to the bottom of the lake and creating a new milfoil infestation. Fragments that remain on the boat and then fall off in other water bodies also cause new milfoil proliferations. SLA has Lake Hosts who advocate the clean, drain, dry program, which is intended to prevent the unintentional spread of milfoil and other invasive species by boaters. Besides sending out divers and snorkelers to screen the lake for milfoil SLA also utilizes the Squam Keeping volunteers to help detect milfoil by kayak. Preventing the spread of milfoil is crucial to conserving the aesthetics and biodiversity of Squam Lake.

Being an avid runner, I spend much of my free time running the 50 miles of trails maintained by SLA. As I found out earlier last week, while doing level one trail maintenance with Brian, the trails and rock formations do not grow out of the mountain. These trails are maintained by SLA volunteers. Running the Squam ridge is one of my favorite runs because of the near panoramic views that overlook the lake. From this vantage point, I can see the SLA headquarters, Bowman, and Moon; I know my fellow interns are working hard to preserve the natural beauty of Squam Lake.

Steve is a rising junior at Virginia Tech where he studies Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Read his full bio here

 

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