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 12, 2017
Last Saturday, I had a moment of bliss that has become engraved in my mind and heart. I trail hosted that day which consisted of me sitting in Becca’s car for five hours because of constant rain until the annual meeting that afternoon. On the drive back to headquarters, Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill” played on the radio and I (obviously) had to sing along. I have grown extremely attached to this song over the past three months because it brings me back to the night before I got on a plane to fly to Boston for this internship. My sister, two best friends, and I (shout out) spent the evening packing my two suitcases and soaking up each other’s presence for the last time until the end of August. The hours flew by and the next thing you know, it’s pushing midnight, “Castle on the Hill” is playing on Youtube, and the four of us are singing along to a song that is so completely in sync with the place I was about to leave. Home. Not just my physical home and home town, but the family and friends that my heart beats for that makes home feel like home.
The lines “Oh, how we’ve grown, But I can’t wait to go home” play, and it’s the first time I have sang those lyrics and felt the full impact of how true these simple words are in my heart and soul. The realization that I actually will be going home hit me so hard that I immediately started cry singing the rest of the song with the biggest smile on my face as I was driving down Route 113. My second realization, which was first brought up to me by Brett recently, was that I have grown an unimaginable amount since I first stepped foot on SLA property. I have gone from my self-proclaimed “basement days” to singing and dancing with abandon with my fellow interns in the barn. I feel like myself in my body as opposed to the first half of the internship when I felt like I only brought my physical being to the SLA while leaving my heart, soul, and personality back at home.
On Wednesday night, “Castle on the Hill” played again after leaving a farewell gathering dedicated to Claire (a sailing instructor with Community Youth Sailing Program). This time around, I still beamed like a lighthouse guiding my way home, but I also felt a hard pang of sadness as Becca belted out the lyrics along with me. I am flying home in two weeks and leaving behind a gorgeous part of the country that I have been privileged enough to live in for three months. The Lakes region and the SLA possess such a love and passion for its land, which I will carry back to my land in my heart. I will be leaving behind the nine other interns that I have had the privilege of getting to know, and I will try my hardest not to tear up at the goodbyes and see you laters.
I didn’t expect to feel such a sense of belonging within the SLA, staff, and especially the interns in such a short period of time. I will miss these people as I make my journey home and continue growing in life.
I would like to thank the beloved giant of SLA, Brett, who pushed my boundaries of comfort throughout the past three months. Thank you for reminding me of the power pose and for believing in me. Katri, you are such a strong, beautiful woman, and I am glad you were there during my unfavorable moments this summer. Rebecca, you are a force to be reckoned with and I greatly admire you for that. Thank you to all of the staff and camp counselors that work tirelessly to keep the SLA running as well (I would thank you all individually, but no one wants to read a novel from me).
To my friends and family back home: “I’m on my way”.
To the readers: thank you for journeying along with the 2017 conservation interns.
And to my crazy, lovely, and inspiring housemates: may we all meet again. Cheers.
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.