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 17, 2017
Just three days ago, I celebrated my 22nd birthday on one of the few days off that the interns have during our month of constant training for the summer months to come. It was a beautiful day: clear skies, sun, an occasional breeze, and, most importantly, no rain. I spent the day exploring Plymouth, shopping, and going to the movies to live my day to the fullest and escape the difficulties of the day. You see, I have a twin sister, and this year was the very first time her and I have been apart on our day of birth celebration. It was an emotionally tough day with tears and heartache for Minnesota, but it was a day that I lived through despite all of that.
With a month of the internship under my belt, I can easily say that I have experienced a multitude of arduous moments, tasks, and days. The interns first scuba diving session in Lake Winnipesaukee was one such day. The day started off with excitement from the interns (100% nervousness for me), but that quickly changed when all nine of us (Elizabeth was already scuba certified) were sitting in Lake Winnipesaukee’s horrendously cold 55 degree waters on that grey and overcast day. The cold that consumed the interns and I was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The lake rapidly stole the warmth from my body and left me without feeling in my hands and feet for an hour after I got out of the water. By the time I finally descended to the bottom of the lake following my fellow interns I could barely see three feet in front of me, and I was panicking. My first panic stricken thought was that I could not do this. I am going back to Minnesota. It felt too overwhelming and impossible to do.
The second time I thought that I was not capable of going on was my first day trail work. It was a hot, sunny day, and Dom, Alice, Riley, Nate, and I cleared out water bars and lopped tree branches up to Mount Morgan. The hike itself would have been manageable if not for the two heavy tools I had to carry on my tiny self and the consistent energy that I used doing the actual trail work. That added weight left my barely fit self, stopping to just breathe on the ascent, and my legs felt like they could barely take the next step. I truly thought I did not have the muscle power to get to the top.
Cut to the picture attached of me smiling on top of Mount Morgan with Squam Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee off in the distance behind me. I somehow survived the strenuous work, heat, and mosquitoes (barely), and it made me a little bit stronger physically and mentally.
The difficult work that the interns and I are doing from trail work to diving for invasive variable milfoil is crucial. Crucial for the intern's personal growth. Necessary for the conservation of the Lakes region of the state. Needed for the protection of the watershed. The only way to draw people into the conservation of this planet and actually protect it is to put in work and effort. I wholeheartedly believe this after being a part of the SLA team for the past month.
Being away from home is challenging, diving still gives me a shock of anxiety, and the thought of trail work makes me feel like I am Bilbo going up against Smaug (LOTR til death). BUT, I know in my heart that all of these challenges and all of the work that the interns are doing will force me to grow in all aspects of my life.
Tamara is from Minnesota. She is currently attending the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities where she is majoring in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology. Click here to read Tamara's bio.