Squam Conservation Intern Journal

 

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, 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. 

To view intern journals from previous summers, click on the links below.

     2015

     2014

     2013

August 26, 2016

Olivia

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. Read Olivia's bio here.

August 22, 2016

Kyle

As I crank a sentence out between each passing boat at the Route 113 launch, I reflect fondly (and briefly) on a blue-sky summer drawing ever closer to its imminent ending. For those planning on catching the bass and the rays until Labor Day and beyond, I suggest letting this journal entry stay unread until you are ready to throw the boat on the trailer and head back home. For those who are taking note of the nights growing colder and longer, buying this year’s textbooks, maybe even starting to wax the skis, I hope that this entry will take you back to some of your warmest days of summer.

To myself and the eight interns that I’m proud to call my friends, this lake has nurtured our bodies and souls the way that only the most special places may.

Coming from a variety of backgrounds, all seeking different things from a summer internship, Squam lake brought in a bunch of rag-tag college-ish folk and, under the guise of trail work, diving, caretaking, and lake hosting, bound them together for a few months. What started as the pure knee jerk reaction to socialize and fraternize with your fellow workers has led us to this place, where we feel a little piece of ourselves lost to the wind as the first of us say our farewells and make the journey back to dorm rooms and dining halls.

Summers in New Hampshire are a very special thing. After a (usually) long winter, when the lake opens its arms up to us for yet another season, most of us come running. As Squam Conservation Interns, we yield from the uninhibited mindset some (though few, on this lake) take towards their recreation. We work the necessary, sometimes grueling, job that I have heard referred to a few times as “the Lord’s work”. We get our kayaking in, but as a dive tender to protect our Aquatic Invasive weed divers from passing boats. We get our time out on the pontoon and speed boats, but it is to deliver wood to a campsite or to check in campers. We get to read out in the sunshine, but it is only a few pages a time between spreading the word to boaters about Milfoil, lead-free tackle, and our treasured loons.

While I would say our job is necessary and, yes, sometimes taxing, we really are no heroes. Anyone on Squam can be an environmental steward; it comes down to cutting the pleasure with a little bit of work. Whether it is measuring the depth of a thermocline while boating with your family, making a conscious effort to stay on the trails, even just rinsing and draining your kayaks after using them, it is imperative that every patron of this watershed does their part.

In a few short days, all the interns will have left. The milfoil boat will significantly reduce its workload to a trip or two a week, the trail work will carry on with a smaller crew, and the Lake Hosting will be just a summer memory. What won’t stop, however, is the use of the lake, and the campsites, and the trails throughout Ashland, Holderness, Center Harbor and Sandwich. I used to think it was our responsibility as interns to preserve the beauty of the watershed. As the internship comes to a close, I realize now that the burden doesn’t fall on us alone, but is a weight that we as the blessed few that know of this area must all carry. Together, we can keep Squam Lake the hidden gem just south of the Whites that it has been since before any of us were around.

Kyle is from Concord, NH, and studies chemistry at Bates College in Maine.  Read Kyle's full bio here.

August 19, 2016

Jordan

My favorite aspect of our internship this summer is that almost every day is a completely new experience from any other day I have had over the summer. I’m always doing something different, whether it is chopping wood, trail work or diving - and in the case of diving I get to dive with a different crew at a different location every time. But the days when I get to do something that isn’t on my normal schedule, like spending the day fixing the dive boat on land, or taking a group of high school students on a kayak trip around the lake are what make the internship really special. Probably my favorite variation in the schedule is when we get to work with the JSLA summer camp program. On Thursday nights during camping duty, after all the campers have been checked in on the islands, we get to go hang out with one of the groups from the summer camp for the rest of the evening who camp out at one of the group sites, it’s a perfect way to end the day. First, you show up and get fed some delicious food cooked by one of the JSLA counselors, and let me tell you, any night I don’t have to cook myself food is a blessing in itself. The campers are then taught how to wash their dishes using a LNT (Leave No Trace) group method, and the dishes are dried by flapping your arms and screaming like a pterodactyl – something I always find very amusing.  After that, we get to talk to the campers about something relating to the environment or ecology of the lake, a lot of the time we talk about what milfoil is and how and why we remove it from the lake. The campers always seem really interested in what we are talking about and will often ask questions. The rest of the evening is spent playing an assortment of camp games until we get to my favorite part – MARSHMALLOWS! I just really enjoy working with the summer camp because the kids are always great (I miss my campers from last summer) and it is nice to get the opportunity to work with other members of the SLA staff.

Jordan is from Salisbury, Maryland, and studies Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Maryland in College Park. Read more about Jordan here.

August 15, 2016

Katri

I am a spectacular dancer. Fortunately for me, a common pastime in the intern house is dancing, allowing me to frequently show off my stellar dance moves. Our dance moves aren’t anything choreographed or impressive. Instead it’s whatever awesome dance moves feel right in the given moment. When I was informed that there was a rock and roll barn dance taking place in the SLA barn I knew that this was my chance to wow the Squam Lakes Region. The SLA, White Oak Pond Watershed Society, and Squam Lakes Conservation Society organized the dance for the purpose of raising money for the White Oak Pond Watershed. Fortune favored my desires and I got the privilege of working the event. My duties included setting up chairs, directing people to the barn, closing up the barn, and, as I wished, dancing. I even managed to get a number of other interns to show off their dance moves too.

The rock and roll barn dance is one of many events and programs I’ve assisted with this summer as an intern. On July 30th, all of us interns helped with the execution of the SLA’s annual meeting. The meeting takes place in the barn and is an opportunity for members to stay informed on the affairs of the organization and bring suggestions to the table. I helped with the mundane tasks, such as setting up and taking down chairs, tables, fans, and food, but was also assigned to manage the table regarding the Squam Watershed Plan. Running the table was a delight. I spoke to a number of members about the vision statement of the watershed plan. I had a wonderful time brainstorming with the members on the best ways to encompass what is truly important to the watershed into the wording of the statement. For any additional input please visit https://squamwatershedplan.wordpress.com/. I was encouraged by the healthy debate sparked by the vision statement, because it exemplified the passion our members feel for the Squam watershed.

All of the events and programs organized by or in collaboration with SLA are efforts that bring people together who have a connection to the Squam community in order to communicate ideas, support a cause, or expand our understanding of the region. The Lakes Region non-profits rely on the support of both members and non-members to spread the message of protecting our watersheds. I’m lucky to say that I’m going to continue interning with SLA into the fall and therefore will get many more opportunities to interact with the people of the region. That being said, I will miss spontaneous dance parties in the intern house and the company of my lovely eight fellow interns. Here’s one of the many photos for which I insisted we all hold hands.

Katri is from Arlington, Virginia and spent the summers of her childhood on Squam Lake. She graduated from Colby College in May 2015 with a BA in the field of government. Read more about Katri here.

August 12, 2016

Erin

A little over a week ago the SLA hosted its big annual meeting. It was really cool to get to see and meet many of the people who volunteer and donate to the SLA to make what we do possible. I think it's easy for us (the interns) to feel responsible and overwhelmed by all the conservation work we see needing to be done when, during the week, it's largely just ourselves and the ten or so constant staff members. But seeing everyone at the meeting reminded me and reinforced the fact that there's a large group of people out there willing to help in any way they can. It makes me feel a lot more comforted that the work we’ve done throughout the summer will continue to be done after we are gone.

I was surprised the other day when I realized how much progress I've made over the summer. I'm comfortable driving a boat by myself (a little nerve-wracking at first), I can carry two oxygen tanks without dropping them and crushing my toes, and most importantly, I feel like I've gained a new perspective of what it means to do conservation work. I recently wrote a reflection essay about this internship for part of the school program that's giving me course credit for this, and I realized I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of what it means to work to conserve the natural environment, and how to do so while still letting people enjoy and respect nature in a responsible way.

As a long term goal I hope to make a positive impact on the world by having a career in research, and using that research to support efforts to protect organisms and their environment. I am interested in learning how human activities impact the world’s ecosystems, and help to protect the organisms being negatively impacted by those human activities. I also want to continue learning new things once I complete my university education, and so I hope to have a job in which I am able to make new discoveries and increase our knowledge of the natural world throughout my entire career. This internship has definitely helped me understand more how to achieve these goals.

Erin will be a senior at the University of Texas in Austin this fall. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she is majoring in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Biology and is working to complete a certificate in Environment and Sustainability as well. Read her full bio here.

August 8, 2016

Stevie

Although this is my last intern journal, I’ll try to avoid such topics like how precious little time we have left here. I really have enjoyed my time here, and I will miss the SLA and the wonderful people I’ve met here when I depart in a few weeks. However, instead of dwelling on that, I’ll take this opportunity to talk about a recent dive day as well as a story about the adventures that occur over a three-day weekend.

Last Tuesday (8/2/2016), I was forced to be awakened by Kyle because I lost my phone and didn’t have an alarm. It was a fairly cold morning but I was a trooper about it and managed to pull myself out of bed. Katri, Kyle, Maggie G., and I took Millie the Milfoil Boat down the river to do some milfoil surveying and hand pulling. We managed to get 15 gallons of milfoil, which even though isn’t a lot, I still felt good about it. At the beginning of the summer we had to use the DASH system quite a bit in the area because there were large patches. Now, we have these places under control to the point where we only have to hand pull a few plants. It’s a great feeling to see that our efforts are actually working in places that were once dominated by variable milfoil. I’m hoping that we managed to get the majority of fragments so that the milfoil won’t strike back and re-root themselves.

Now onto my other story. There’s a light side and a dark side to having days off when it comes to the SLA internship. Every intern has a three day weekend during the summer and mine was this past weekend. After being at SLA for over two months I realized just how busy this internship keeps me and how bored I get with my days off. To put it in perspective, I went with Jordan to the DMV in Concord so he wouldn’t have to go solo. I went to the DMV for “fun”. Following that, I went with one of the sailing instructors, Julianne, to get dinner which pretty much sums up my three day weekend. Jordan and Julianne essentially gave me a new hope in my quest to overcome boredom. So there it is, my last intern journal. I said I would try to avoid talking about the end of summer, so I did just that. You know what they say: “Do or do not, there is no try.”

Stevie grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire is currently attending the University of Vermont, UVM, where he's majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Wildlife Biology. Read Stevie's bio here.

August 5, 2016

Maggie G.

Trail work is one of the more grueling tasks that we interns get to perform for the Squam Lakes Association. It requires us to carry loppers, fire rakes, pick mattocks and other heavy tools up and down our 50 miles of trails in order to keep them in good working condition for public use. Last Thursday, I worked with a couple other interns on maintaining the Crawford Ridgepole Trail in preparation for the Squam Ridge Race taking place in September. We worked for about five hours and made it from where Old Mountain Road connects to the Crawford Ridgepole Trail to a little before Webster Mountain’s summit. This five hours of work out, was only about a 45-minute hike back to our starting location.

This is one of the main problems that arises with trail work: time. Going on a normal hike, even carrying all the supplies, takes a fraction of the time that the same hike takes while working. Last Thursday we had the benefit of working on the ridge where there were no water bars that needed clearing. Water bars are set up on slopes to direct water off the trail. Even though we haven’t had the pleasure of doing this yet, these water bars have to be set up by hand, digging deep holes and placing heavy rocks into them.

All the trails the SLA is in charge of maintaining cannot be managed just by the SLA staff alone. This is why we try our best as interns to work with our supervisors and coordinate with Brian, our volunteer coordinator, when we go out to work on trails. Having volunteers to help out not only makes the work load easier on everyone, but it also enables us to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time. If three people working could cover about two miles of trail work in five hours, just imagine what simply a few volunteers could help us to achieve.

Properly maintained trails help direct hikers so that they don’t become lost, and limits the possibility of hikers walking off-trail and over the vegetation in the area. This is good for both small ferns and mosses, but also larger trees. If foot traffic is allowed to surround a tree, the dirt wears thin, and exposes the root system. Then the hikers will walk directly on top of the roots, slowly causing damage to them, and the tree as a whole. Trail work helps maintain the integrity of the natural landscape for all of us to enjoy.

Maggie G. was born and raised in Rumney, NH and is now a Senior attending the State University of New York at Oswego, NY. Read Maggie's bio here.

August 1, 2016

Gio

Throughout the internship, we have done several things to help preserve this special place in New Hampshire. We’ve done all kinds of things to help keep the SLA running. I think my favorite part of this internship is all the work we do that gives immediate gratification, such as diving and removing a large patch of milfoil, or when you do trail work and finally see a trailhead re-directed or see the entrance to a trail cleared up.

It was pretty interesting camping at Bowman Island though. It was especially interesting seeing all the spiders that have spawned there. It’s really cool walking through the trails and then stopping, waiting for things to quiet down, and hearing all the little crawlers walking on the fallen leaves. I suppose that sometimes it seems like there are way too many, and it is a bit annoying to walk past the same spot twice within five or ten minutes and run into a spider web both times, but it is a real testament to the health of the island ecosystem. As far as I know, daddy longlegs aren’t invasive, so it’s ok that there are thousands around! They really are pretty hilarious to watch bounce around and bump into each other.

I really can’t believe that this is my last journal entry. Soon we will be parting ways and going home, but with a wealth of experience under our belts. It’s going to be real tough going back home. I’ll be done with school after this internship and compared to our schedule here at Squam, my new “school-less” schedule will seem like a pretty inactive one. No more 6:15am waking for diving, no more camping overnight while having to do work the next day. So, with the realization that we’re going to be leaving sooner than later, I am really enjoying these last few weeks I have left here. I am trying to take it in as much as possible and take advantage of every opportunity I get, such as a moon-rise hike (pictured). I recently went sailing with a friend who was visiting. I think I might just return to Squam to keep sailing in these now familiar waters. No motor, no sound, just the wind, the waves, the sail, and a few friends.

Gio is originally from Montevideo, Uruguay and currently resides in Chicago. He is an environmental studies student at Northeaster Illinois University, where he helped lead a conservation club on campus. Read more about Gio here.

July 29, 2016

Maggie K.

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. Learn more about Maggie here. 

July 25, 2016

Olivia

Well, there’s just about a month left. It’s unbelievable how fast time has flown by this summer and I’m really not looking forward to the end. However, because of this sudden realization of how little time is left, I’ve been trying to do more and more with each of my days off. Sunset paddle boarding, learning how to sail, and exploring the unique, surrounding towns are just some examples.

My favorite aspect of this internship has definitely been the scuba diving. We spend the day about 10 feet below the surface with our hands in the mud to eradicate the invasive beast that is variable milfoil. It’s extremely important to not just pick the plant by the stem because leaving any main roots gives the plant a second chance to take over the lake (milfoil can sprout completely new plants from just a root or even a tiny plant fragment floating through the water). Because of this, it can be a bit time consuming to pick each plant one by one, however our equipment helps speed up this process. Our milfoil removal boat, fittingly named Millie, is equipped with hoses upon hoses that work as a kind of underwater vacuum. They transport the carefully plucked milfoil from the diver’s hands to a mesh table on the boat which allows the topside crew to sort through it and pack it into bins to later be composted. Together, this system is known as DASH, or Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting, and makes our job much more efficient, although sometimes trying to wrestle with the huge hoses underwater reminds me of my Florida days wrestling alligators. Since 2008, the Squam Lakes Association has already removed well over 18,000 gallons of milfoil from Squam, and the difference this has made on the lake’s water quality and biodiversity is enormous. Without milfoil outcompeting every plant in the lake, the diversity of plant and fish species is flourishing. This is very apparent every time I dive, being followed by countless curious fish or weaving through forests of thriving native plants. It’s amazing going back to areas we first visited towards the beginning of the summer and seeing the difference we have already made in milfoil removal. It really shows how just a handful of divers who are passionate about conserving this beautiful area can truly make a difference in such a short amount of time.

Olivia is from Florida and is a rising senior at Florida State University pursuing a biology degree. Read Olivia's bio here.

July 22, 2016

Kyle

Working on Squam continues to be a constant surprise and persistent pleasure. As we have long since settled into our rotating schedule, I would have assumed that by now, things would be slowing down: the days by now should be predictable, they should drag on. However, the opposite is occurring. I find myself with less and less free time. The roommates with whom I became accustomed to fighting over a stove-top burner rarely congregate in the same place. That being said, I find myself appreciating the smaller groups of people and the time we share.

As of recent, I had the pleasure to work as the Person-In-Charge (PIC) on the dive crew. Being in charge really changed the dynamic of the whole dive for me. Whereas before I found it easy to show up tired on a dive day, ready to mindlessly churn out the process of squeezing into a cold wetsuit, strapping a tank of compressed air on my back, and travelling a few feet under the surface to harvest some milfoil. Now, I felt like I was on the other side of this process. As PIC, I found myself coordinating the activities of my fellow divers, searching for the most efficient way to operate and trying to figure out a management technique that wouldn’t alienate my peers.

As if being temporarily in charge of the Squam Lakes Association Milfoil Removal Dive Team wasn’t enough for one young conservationist’s wild week, I happened to find myself on a boat in Heron Cove, in the middle of the night, holding a newly banded loon. It was a stunning night. Thanks to the Loon Preservation Committee, my co-interns and I were invited to come see and participate in the banding of the loons. That which was quite a startling display of the human ability to capture a smaller animal was satisfying in an odd way. While this experience is strange and temporarily traumatizing for the loon, it offers us a huge breadth of information. It allows us to keep track of the loon’s behavior; whether it leaves this lake, if its diet changes, and even if the water quality changes. Our ability to read this loon is a reflection of our ability to judge the lake’s ebbs and flows. The same way we monitor this creature, we monitor our watershed.

Kyle is from Concord, NH, and studies chemistry at Bates College in Maine.  Read Kyle's full bio here.

July 18, 2016

Maggie K.

Last Wednesday, I cuddled a loon chick. What kind of conservation intern would violate such a basic principle – don’t touch wildlife – you might ask? The Squam Lakes Association interns got the amazing opportunity to help the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) band loons. The LPC bands loons who have successfully produced chicks on Squam Lake each year. This allows them to be able to track individual loons to follow their life history, and see if they return to Squam to breed in the future.

The process starts after dark, around 9 pm. We drove out to Heron Cove, where one of the loon pairs was with their one chick. There, a boat with a bright spotlight tracks down one of the loon parents using binoculars, and then slowly approaches, keeping the light on the loon so they are unable to see the boat. Once close, the loon is netted and brought onto the boat, where its head is wrapped in a towel – this both calms the bird down and keeps its sharp beak from causing harm. Tonight, a chick was also around the female that was caught, so it was brought onto the boat too. I held the 10-day old chick in my hands, keeping its wings and feet tucked under my fingers. It was incredible soft, softer than I thought possible, and its tiny heart beat quickly against my palms. Meanwhile, the (very large!) adult bird was held tightly on someone’s lap while it was banded, measured, and weighed. I was able to be part of the search process for the second loon parent – the male loon who was already banded from last year – which was very exciting. This bird was warier than the female, and every time we’d be just close enough to catch it, it would dive down and pop up further away. At one point, I got to see the male darting around beneath the surface, gracefully and speedily. We were unable to catch the male, but since he was already banded from last year, that was alright.

Heading back after midnight, I couldn’t help but think about how incredible that experience was. We are lucky to have healthy, happy loons here on Squam, thanks to conservation work from the Loon Preservation Committee and organizations like Squam Lakes Association.

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. Learn more about Maggie here. 

July 15, 2016

Jordan

Coming into this internship, diving was the thing I was the most excited for and the most nervous about. I had grown up near the ocean all my life but I had never even snorkeled before, so the idea of breathing underwater for an extended period of time was pretty nerve-racking. I had butterflies in my stomach during our first day of dive training, and the more time I spent in the water, those butterflies turned into a constant feeling of anxiety. Breathing underwater on its own was unnatural, but then there was the added stress of having to repeatedly remove the hose from my mouth that supplied me with life sustaining air, and let it float in the water so I could practice retrieving it. However, after a couple of days in the pool, and 2 days diving in Winnipesaukee I felt like was ready to start diving in Squam for milfoil.

But on our first day of weed control diving, all my excitement turned into anxiety and then to frustration and anger. Nothing seemed to go the way I wanted. I couldn’t maintain the proper buoyancy; I either sunk all the way to the bottom or I was rising to the surface against my will. Every time I attempted to move I just kicked up the silt on the bottom of the river, making it impossible to see. Even holding the bag open while trying to remove a milfoil plant from the ground proved to be difficult. I was dreading the rest of the summer where I would be diving 2-3 three times a week.

But with each dive I did as this summer has progressed, I got more and more accustomed to diving and simply moving underwater. Instead of feeling like I was constantly fighting an invisible force, it began to feel like something natural that I had been doing for years. I have gotten better each dive at pulling milfoil, which is crucial because I want to limit any fragmentation in the plants I pull and I want to maintain visibility. I now look forward to each dive day on Squam. It feels good knowing that I am not only doing something I enjoy, but I am helping protect the lake as well. Diving has really shown me that I can’t just give up because I don’t like something the first couple of times I try it. Rather, it makes the whole experience so much more valuable knowing what I went through to get to where I am now.

Jordan is from Salisbury, Maryland, and studies Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Maryland in College Park. Read more about Jordan here.

July 11, 2016

Katri

I’ve never extensively worked with tools. Call me ignorant or sheltered, but the retail and office jobs I previously held rarely required their use. As a conservation intern, my frequent use of tools has led me to a naive conclusion. Simple machines are wondrous! They may not be the building blocks of all mechanics (something I recall being taught in elementary school) but that in no way dilutes their impressive nature. Most days with the SLA I get the pleasure of working with simple machines.

All of these simple machines are used in the upkeep of SLA’s campgrounds, trails, grounds, and boats. We use a screw system to level the docks, pulleys to raise the composting toilet buckets, and wedges to ease the labor of sawing downed trees. As in all areas of work, there is always unforeseen maintenance that must be completed. My first weekend of caretaking duties on Bowman Island required that I saw and move three downed trees, level both of the docks, and replace the toilet seat in one of the bathrooms—all in addition to my regular caretaking duties. All these processes take time, but I find that they also allow for reflection.

My favorite example of unanticipated maintenance and the use of tools is the day we spent working on Millie (the milfoil boat). She’d sustained some serious injuries during a gusty dive day. The back of the Diver Assisted Suction Harvest (DASH) system required a new board and the bow spud hole needed reinforcement. Without fixing it, we would not have been able to use the DASH system to remove milfoil from the lake. Brett Durham, Director of Recreation, spent the entire day guiding us interns through the process and patiently explaining to me the proper use of many of the tools in the shop. By 6 PM that evening we had Millie back in the water and ready for more milfoil extraction. I cherish that day due to its value as a learning experience and look forward to many more days of unanticipated labor and learning.  

Katri is from Arlington, Virginia and spent the summers of her childhood on Squam Lake. She graduated from Colby College in May 2015 with a BA in the field of government. Read more about Katri here.

July 8, 2016

Erin

Lake hosting has been something I've been doing more frequently these past couple of weeks, and I've had so many positive experiences while doing it. I was a little unsure of what to expect at first. Since we're at the boat launch informing people about rules and regulations, it's understandable that they might not be super excited to talk to us. But largely it’s been all really positive experiences! I have encountered so many people who are well-informed on the issues with invasive species on Squam Lake, which makes my job so much easier. It's really encouraging to have pleasant experiences with people through having conversations about conservation issues. Even people who aren't as familiar with the work we do at the SLA are almost always interested and happy to listen. It’s hard to know how well information about conservation work is being received and taken to heart by people not directly involved in the work, so getting out there as a lake host has been a great way to see that people are actually listening and do care.

Also related to controlling invasive species in the lakes, I’ve discovered overall that diving is by far one of my favorite shifts to work. I procrastinated getting SCUBA certified for way too long, and I’m so happy I was able to get that and be able to dive for this internship. I dove in Bennett Cove this past week and it was so pretty and clear; it actually reminded me of being in the Caribbean. It was a great experience to reinforce why we’re working so hard to keep invasive species in check. It does get interesting when we start pulling up milfoil and the silt starts to flow and cloud the water; it gets to the point where I can’t even see my hand in front of my face. But we just keep pulling, and when it’s not murky I like to look at all of the cool fish and bugs underwater while we work. It’s awesome.

Erin will be a senior at the University of Texas in Austin this fall. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she is majoring in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Biology and is working to complete a certificate in Environment and Sustainability as well. Read her full bio here.

July 4, 2016

Stevie

Remember in the movie Back to the Future when Biff Tannen was chasing Marty McFly and he ended up getting covered in manure? Yeah, I can kind of relate to that after an incident cleaning out composting toilets. I feel you Biff, just not the times in the next two movies when the manure gets into your mouth. That’s just gross.

Anyways. Last Wednesday was a dive day during which we managed to remove roughly 70 gallons of milfoil. Not too bad. I’ve been getting better at controlling my breathing so I can stay down longer. It’s weird how fast time flies by when you get into the zone. It does get a little tedious after a while but hey, we get to go scuba diving for our job!

After being here for over a month, I’ve come to realize how special of a space Squam Lake is. I grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire where I would go to Lake Sunapee with my friends to swim and what-not. At Sunapee, there are so many waterfront properties that are right on the shoreline. There are no buffer zones of trees or shrubs between the houses and water. It doesn’t matter where you are on the lake, you will also see waterfront properties. Here at Squam it’s very different. There are a few houses on the water, but for the most part all you can see are trees, which is nice. Plus, the boating traffic is relatively calm. Sure, the channels can get busy and there are more boats around on a hot day, but generally you don’t see too much traffic. There’s something completely relaxing about coming back from camping in the early morning when nobody is out on the lake.

I was lake hosting at a boat ramp last week when someone started to question the point of conservation efforts. It was the only negative interaction I have had the entire time I’ve been here, but I’m glad it happened. It gave me the opportunity to look more closely at the work I’ve been doing and the purpose of it. I’m proud of the work I’ve been doing so far and the progress that all of us interns have made. One of the reasons that this lake has stayed the way it has over so many years is due to the hard work of people like us. The people that volunteer their time to conserve the watershed around Squam.

Stevie grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire is currently attending the University of Vermont, UVM, where he's majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Wildlife Biology. Read Stevie's bio here.

July 2, 2016

Maggie G.

We’re now two weeks out of training and the everyday flow is getting smoother and smoother. Just last weekend, I was alone in charge of our Moon sites on Squam Lake. It was a beautiful weekend and I had some really nice campers that made my stay more enjoyable. Both Saturday and Sunday I also went out onto the lake with a fellow intern and did what we here call Squam Keeping. This involves going out onto one of 12 areas on Squam and boating around, observing wildlife, shoreline development, boater activity, and water quality. We were just slowly cruising along and we managed to see multiple loons feeding, an eagle and a great blue heron flying overhead, and some wonderful mountain laurel in bloom along Hodges Cove.

We might not have gone too far from Moon Island this weekend while Squam Keeping, but the areas extend all the way from Little Squam up to Squaw Cove and Bean Cove on Big Squam. The main message of Squam Keeping is making our presence known across the whole lake, and to spread our message of conservation to the public. This expanse also allows us the opportunity to monitor the health of the lake through our water quality monitoring project as well. Monday’s interns will go out and monitor sites, along with other volunteers periodically throughout the week on top of the weekend Squam Keeping. All the data collected, from where the thermocline is, to levels of dissolved oxygen, hint at the health of the lake.

Squam Lake is a rather healthy lake, but due to a large watershed, this could change if people start to forget about it. Issues such as salt or fertilizer run off can drastically alter the chemical composition of the lake, and from there other things can be affected such as plant growth and water clarity. On top of being bad for the lake, this then affects recreation and peoples’ enjoyment levels while on the lake. Doing our part to keep the lake healthy therefore benefits everyone.

Maggie G. was born and raised in Rumney, NH and is now a Senior attending the State University of New York at Oswego, NY. Read Maggie's bio here.

June 25, 2016

Gio

Well, we finally got around to diving and using the DASH system to clean up milfoil on Squam River. It was a bit shocking to see the amount of milfoil in all the coves. The hope is we can get it under control before the heavy boating traffic season hits. Many of the plants are very much in the way of boat propellers which could cause fragmentation. It isn’t the boaters’ fault that the plant chose to grow around the dock, and we can’t and don’t expect them to not use their boats.

When one of the dive teams got back and told me they got 200 gallons that day, I thought it was a joke, and felt skeptical. Then I realized they weren’t kidding.  They really had gotten 200 gallons of milfoil out of the river area. It’s always interesting talking to neighbors in the area where we’re working. Most of the residents are very grateful and understand the purpose behind our mission. It’s pleasing to hear the compliments, but I suppose our goal is to never have to show up there again because ideally we’d get all the milfoil out and never return.

Aside from that, every day as an SLA intern is full of gratifying experiences. Two of us did trail work at Col Trail. Once we finished, I thought we had gone very far into the trail. We worked for about 5 hours clearing a path full of weeds, overgrown ferns and maple trees, and barbed wire (not kidding…). We connected our work with previous work that had been done on that trail a few days prior. Once we were finished and had to return to SLA it took us all of fifteen minutes to return to our car. At first, we felt very defeated, but considering the trail looked like a rabbit trail at the beginning and now it is clearly marked, we felt proud of our work. Now folks can enjoy a different hike up to the Rattlesnakes! It is so worthwhile to preserve this watershed. Views like the one pictured are my favorite, because they don’t require any touching up.

Gio is originally from Montevideo, Uruguay and currently resides in Chicago. He is an environmental studies student at Northeaster Illinois University, where he helped lead a conservation club on campus. Read more about Gio here.

June 21, 2016

Kyle

Since I was young child, growing up in the metropolis area of Concord, New Hampshire, I have always dreamed of the day when I would become a Squam Ranger. Well, that isn’t actually a truthful statement. Ever since I have been a Squam Conservation Intern, however, I have been working towards becoming a Squam Ranger; doing so has changed how I perceive and interact with the Squam watershed and surrounding towns.

Growing up, I had always been a pond-boy. In high school, I would spend spring and summer afternoons and evenings relaxing on the boat docks at Turkey Pond. In college, my friends and I would catch sun at Range Pond State Park in Auburn, Maine. Most recently, as an Adventure Camps Director, I spent endless days leading canoe and sailing trips around Walker Pond in Sedgwick, Maine. I was very content with these bodies of water. After all, they enabled me to feel the wind on my face and cool down on hot days – as far as I cared, there was no distinction between these little ponds and a true lake.

Due to this mindset, I was struck by the magnitude of Squam Lake, which I was given the slightest glimpse of when I paddled out of Piper Cove the first week of intern training. Once I managed to wrap my mind around the optical illusion of a lake without residents, I turned my attention to the range of mountains enclosing the lake. Their looming presence stirred my emotions. The grandeur of these mountains made me feel like a visitor in my home state.

When I learned about the Squam Ranger challenge, my heart started pumping. For whatever reason, the only thing that gets me going more than hiking is checklists. Starting at the farthest westerly point, I got to enjoy a pleasant afternoon on top of Mt. Livermore, and then Cotton Mountain. As I completed more and more peaks along the ridge, I began to gather a multitude of views of Squam from above. Parallel to my growing understanding of the lake itself, my insight about the rest of the watershed grew. The land that encloses Squam, separating our rainfall from the surrounding lakes, seemed to have a rich history of its own. Through little tidbits of the past that I would hear from long time Squam inhabitants, combined with my own fictional tales inspired by names of trails and the lays of the land, I felt as if I was cultivating my own part in the Squam’s rich story.

As of now, I am about 30 miles through the 50 mile Squam Ranger Challenge. Some of the trails that I hiked for pleasure, I would go up again with other interns and work tools to revitalize and maintain trails. It was always more interesting doing trailwork on the paths where you had already invested a piece of yourself in emotionally: the work stops being for someone else and becomes personal. As I continue to cross peaks and trails off of my ranger checklist, I am learning that the purpose of becoming a Squam Ranger is not to simply see the sites or walk the land, that is only the means to an end. By traveling the land around Squam, you gain an insight on this special place; you learn the story of Squam and find yourself living in it.

Kyle is from Concord, NH, and studies chemistry at Bates College in Maine. Read Kyle's full bio here.

June 16, 2016

Jordan

I have been hiking all of my life, but I never really put much thought into how much hard work went into making the trails I hiked a possibility. It wasn’t until the second week of training for the internship when we learned the basics of trail maintenance that I began to wrap my mind around how much time and energy goes into making every step along a trail possible. There is so much to be done: cutting back branches and leaves that grow onto the trail, digging out water bars to ensure water is properly directed off of the trail, and putting up blazes and signs so that hikers stay on the right path. And that only includes the stuff required to maintain trails that already exists; a single rock that is used as a stepping stone to help people get up a mountain can sometimes take up to 4 hours to move and put in place.

The true wake-up call was my second day of doing trail work, where instead of going up the trail with 10 people, there were now only three of us. A hike that would normally have taken 30 minutes turned into a 3-hour trip as we slowly made our way up the trail with our tools in hand. It was slow hard work, but when we finished we felt a sense of pride in what we had accomplished, even though we didn’t cover too much mileage. This experience helped me appreciate all the work done to maintain trails across the country, but it especially allowed me to appreciate all the hard work from the volunteers in the Squam region who help maintain the trails; without them it wouldn’t be possible. I think people often overlook the fact that it is rarely the employees of organizations that do a lot of the hard labor that is required to keep trails in usable conditions, but instead are the dedicated volunteers. 

Jordan is from Salisbury, Maryland, and studies Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Maryland in College Park. Read more about Jordan here.

June 14, 2016

Katri

Interning with SLA is a change of pace for me. I spent the past year working in government relations and political analysis capacities within the confinement of cubicles down in Washington, D.C. With SLA every day is something new— ranging from scuba diving for the purpose of removing non-native milfoil to maintaining trails and campsites in order to preserve the surrounding forests. I love the hands on nature of the internship. I love that I’m not glued to a computer screen for eight hours every day.

That being said, my experiences down in D.C. allow me to truly appreciate the role that non-profits play in the political field. The first day of the internship we attended a lecture by Kittie Wilson, a volunteer with the Loon Preservation Committee. She discussed the enactment of new legislation banning the use and sale of sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or less. LPC and other lakes region groups advocated for the legislation and educated communities and politicians about the toxic effects that lead tackle has when ingested by loons. Kittie’s lecture made me think about the battles that environmental groups, including SLA, face in the political arena. The process includes research, education, and mobilization, often demanding years of intense debate and committed members. I’m fascinated by the general administration of SLA as a non-profit. The organization provides an array of services both on a regional conservation level and on a statewide political level. I look forward to further immersing myself in the programs and initiatives spearheaded by SLA.

All non-profit talk aside, every day I’m tired and it’s beautiful. I revel in the fatigue I feel from the constant motion of the internship. Over the course of one day we might dive for milfoil, split wood, upkeep campsites, and, my favorite, move items from one place to another. Even on our days off I can’t remain still. The picture I provided shows me on top of Mount Lafayette, which I hiked with fellow interns Jordan and Maggie K. It took us five hours to complete the Little Haystack, Lincoln, and Lafayette loop. I loved every second.

Katri is from Arlington, Virginia and spent the summers of her childhood on Squam Lake. She graduated from Colby College in May 2015 with a BA in the field of government. Read more about Katri here.

June 9, 2016

Erin

This past week we took the wilderness first aid training class and had a really good time. We learned everything from how to splint a broken bone to recognizing a hiker in shock. Our instructor would come up with these crazy scenarios for some of the students to act out (some took their parts a little more seriously than others), and we had to figure out how to respond based off of what we had been taught. I think my favorite scenario was when nine people came running at the other dozen or so of us, all with “severed fingers”, interestingly which had all happened at the same time... This meant we got a lot of fake blood all over us, and practiced our tourniquets and how to calm a patient down who’s in shock.

I came to this internship really looking forward to all of the new skills I would be learning- scuba diving, trail maintenance, managing aquatic invasive species, getting wilderness first aid certified, along with many others. But I think I’ve had an even better time learning how much actually goes into being a conservation association. It involves being around people a lot, educating the public, working hard in the outdoors, as well as some very necessary desk work, among other things. It’s really easy for us as college students with our majors focusing so closely on one subject to develop tunnel vision. I’m a biology major, and I feel really passionately about the science behind everything we see when we’re out on the lake or out hiking, but often don’t really want to think about how policies to protect these things are in place or developed. We went to the New Hampshire Lakes Congress meeting last week and I was able to learn a lot about how some of the legislation is proposed and passed. Attending that meeting and being here at the Squam Lakes Association has made me realize how important it is to at least have a good understanding of all of the parts that play into conservation, and respect that all of them are extremely important.

Erin will be a senior at the University of Texas in Austin this fall. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she is majoring in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Biology and is working to complete a certificate in Environment and Sustainability as well. Read her full bio here.

June 7, 2016

Stevie

I used to be terrified of the water. I had a near-drowning incident when I was about seven years old that made me develop a phobia. Additionally, seeing Jaws shortly after didn’t help at all. I’ve spent years trying to overcome my fear. It started with joining the swim team in middle school and then my coach offering me a lifeguard position at the pool. From there, I coached a swim team, taught swimming lessons, and eventually became a waterfront director at a beach. Furthermore, I became a certified scuba diver and now look where I am. Lakes, ponds, and rivers don’t scare me anymore. The only thing I worry about now is the ocean. Ask anyone of my friends and they will tell you how hard it is to get me to go swimming at an ocean beach. I’ve made progress though. Now, instead of the Jaws theme song playing in my head when I enter the water I only think about one thing. What’s down there?

Eventually, I would like to study sharks in a marine protected area. I know. Pulling weeds and studying sharks are completely different. Also, I know I said I still have a fear of the ocean. It doesn’t matter. I think it would be cool to have a job where you’re both excited and afraid. I’ve worked a long time trying to overcome my fear so why stop now?

My favorite moment of the internship so far has been the weed control scuba diver class. We went diving and practiced removing milfoil in a river close to a dam. We only went down about 7 feet but that’s all it took. I emptied out the air from my BC to submerge underneath the water where it instantly feels like a whole other world. I managed to hover just inches from the bottom, directly over the milfoil. There was no need for my BC anymore. I was able to adjust my buoyancy by controlling my breathing. I descended lower. Darkness. The water was so murky from the other interns that I was blind. Amazing how big of a difference a few inches made. For the next thirty minutes I remained on the bottom using only my sense of touch to carefully remove the milfoil. At the end, I took a minute for myself. I closed my eyes and hovered motionless in the water.

All I could think about was how incredible this watershed is and the opportunity I have to help preserve it. Removing the variable milfoil has multiple benefits that can be felt by many plants, animals, and even us humans. I’m glad to be a part of the ongoing efforts on the lake. The Squam Lakes watershed is the next step I am taking to get closer to my future goals. In time, I hope it will also be the next step others will take towards their goals.

 

June 2, 2016

Maggie G.

We’re nearing the end of our training now, only about a week left! This is both exciting and saddening at the same time; exciting that we will all be prepared for our intense summer, but sad because us interns will begin our rotations and will not be together every day. This separation is necessary though, to better cover varying aspects of conservation Squam Lakes Association (SLA) supports, and to prevent us from getting at each other’s throats.

Today we learned a couple of new skills that will be crucial for surviving this summer: how to chop firewood, and how to properly remove variable milfoil using the bag technique. Chopping firewood and offering it to campers at our campsites is very important. Having fire supplies readily available discourages campers from wandering off into the woods in search of kindling and firewood. Wandering around can trample plants, and many feet later, may even prevent plant life from being able to grow in an area at all. This campsite etiquette also relates to hiking and sticking to the trails there. Tomorrow we are looking forward to learning about trail maintenance.

We also took shifts in learning how to collect variable milfoil. During the day we had at least two divers in the water with our instructor, the divers switching out every hour or so, and nine hours later, all the interns had managed to remove about 30 gallons of variable milfoil from the Little Squam Channel by the dam. It all begins when you let out the air in your buoyancy control device and sink into this underwater universe. We were all surprised by how surrounded you became within two feet of the bottom of the channel. It was almost sad seeing so much of it, but us interns are so inspired by our goals!

Variable milfoil is present in both Big and Little Squam, but it is more prevalent in Little Squam. This invasive aquatic species is a serious problem in many lakes across NH and nearby states. It out-competes native aquatics for both space and resources. One of the reasons this invasive is difficult to manage is the manner behind its propagation. Even fragments of the leaves and stems can sprout roots if they land on the bottom of the lake and have the necessary nutrients. Variable milfoil has become such a problem that the general goal in many places is no longer eradication but simply to control. The SLA has put in a significant effort into controlling variable milfoil, and has been able to create one of the extremely limited success stories against variable milfoil. Variable milfoil is nearly gone from Big Squam, and going down in numbers each year in Little Squam. Us interns are fueled and ready to go keep the efforts of our predecessors going, to help conserve this beautiful lake we are beginning to call home. 

Maggie G. was born and raised in Rumney, NH and is now a Senior attending the State University of New York at Oswego, NY. Read Maggie's bio here.

May 31, 2016

Gio

Two weeks in. During one of my first mornings here, I had enough time to kayak out onto the lake and see the sun shining over the Sandwich ridge, but soon after, we were hit with training and more training, so time was at a premium. After receiving our commercial boating licenses, we all took turns driving Millie the Milfoil boat so we would get used to her quirks. Additionally, we all received our open water scuba diving certificate (thanks Brad Swain!) so now were just one short step away from declaring war on variable milfoil! We just need to get our weed control certificate next week. We’re comin’ for ya, milfoil!

A highlight of this internship, and Squam Lake in general, is the first time you camp on an island. All of us interns did an overnight camp on Bowman Island with Connor, Rebecca, and Brett. After learning some stove skills , we learned how to clean dishes in the backwoods without getting everyone sick (yay!). One thing I will never forget will be the first time I heard the loon calls up close.

Once we all went into our respective tents or hammocks and quieted down, the show began. Loons, owls, and other critters of the night came to life and shared their harmonies with us. You can hear them from the SLA headquarters, but they are fairly quiet because they are across the lake on an island or a secluded cove somewhere. It is much different when they are up close and personal. I have camped in remote regions of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois before coming to Squam, but the sounds of the surrounding wildlife here are much louder and more present than anywhere else I have ever been. I think it says a lot about our conservation efforts. Squam makes a good home for all living creatures, not just humans, and that’s a beautiful thing. We are all in this big blue and green ball together, let’s never forget it. Onwards.

Gio is originally from Montevideo, Uruguay and currently resides in Chicago. He is an environmental studies student at Northeaster Illinois University, where he helped lead a conservation club on campus. Read more about Gio here.

May 26, 2016

Olivia

It’s only been just over a week since I’ve arrived at Squam Lakes, but with the vast array of activities and chores we have already completed, I feel like I have been here for much longer. Coming from Florida and being completely new to this area, I think I can have fun doing anything here (even just picking up sticks). Every day, I constantly find myself entranced by the beautiful scenery, weather, and wildlife in this area. The mountains are stunning. The water, though much different than Florida oceans, is serene and surprisingly refreshing. The wildlife is beautiful and thriving. The air feels crisp and cool every morning and I feel like I can actually leave the house without having to worry about suffering from heat stroke, which is a pretty good thing.

Over the course of a week, we have already completed so much. We’ve passed both of our boating tests and have begun driving the boats, and more unnervingly, docking them. We have also gotten belay certified for rock climbing, hiked a few mountains, kayaked around Squam, and much more. Currently, I’m currently trying to control my excitement to get back in the water and start scuba diving again (I was certified in Florida last month), but until then, Maggie G., Stevie, and I have been busy with a myriad of tasks while the others are in training for scuba. We’ve tied and stacked bundles and bundles of firewood, done water quality testing on the lake, and best of all, scrubbed composting toilets until they’re sparkling clean.

One of my favorite parts of the internship so far has been the boating. I have realized that I truly belong on the water, and you can clearly see from this photo that Maggie K. and I have already advanced to professional captains. In a very short time, we interns have seemed to click extremely well and I’ll definitely miss us all being able to spend time together as our schedules become more and more packed. Thankfully, we have a group camping trip planned for tomorrow to look forward to!

Olivia is from Florida and is a rising senior at Florida State University pursuing a biology degree. Read Olivia's bio here.

May 24, 2016

Maggie K.

It’s been a week since us interns arrived here at Squam Lakes Association, and our time has been passing swimmingly, jam packed with trainings and getting to know each other. We’ve gotten our NH safe boating licenses and then commercial boat licenses (which we all passed on our first try, despite some nerves!), performed a swim test in the beautiful but frigid waters of Squam Lake (which we thoroughly psyched ourselves out for because we were told we had to swim 500 meters and had just learned about all the dangers of hypothermia – though it turned out to be about 50 feet), pulled invasive weeds (we’re watching you, bittersweet!), cleared trails, pulled and clipped and yanked some more invasive weeds, started our scuba certification, and hiked some small mountains around the lake.

To start off our trail work trainings, Kyle and I recreated the “American Gothic” painting, as shown here with a pitchfork in front of one of SLA’s tool sheds. We worked at the base of Rattlesnake Ridge, removing non-native invasive species – such as bittersweet – on Saturday afternoon. Monday morning, we cleared a trail in the center of Holderness. Myself and several other interns are aggressively trying to become Squam Rangers (hiking the 50 miles of trails around Squam Lake) before they get too busy this summer. We’ve done Rattlesnake, Mt. Cotton, Mt. Livermore, and then as a group on our day off on Sunday, we hiked Mt. Percival and Mt. Morgan. All of them have beautiful views of Squam Lake and the surrounding landscape, something none of us fail to be blown away by!

Last night was our first Scuba lesson, and the new divers all got our own snorkel, mask, fins, and booties, which was like a very exciting Christmas. We’re all looking forward to trying it out in the pool and Lake Winnipesaukee this week, and then eventually in Squam! It’s going to be a great summer.

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. Learn more about Maggie here

2016 Intern Bios

Erin

My name is Erin Shilling and this fall I will be a senior at the University of Texas in Austin. Originally from Dallas, Texas, I am majoring in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Biology and I am working to complete a certificate in Environment and Sustainability as well. I focus on aquatic systems within my studies at UT, and while marine systems are my favorite, I am passionate about protecting and restoring all types of environments. I hope to have a career in research in the future, and the field work I have done as part of my research experiences with UT have been the best part. I love the outdoors, working with animals, reading, and learning. I’m really excited to spend a whole summer working for a program that combines all of my interests in an area of the country I have never gotten to explore before!

 

 

Gio

Hi, I'm Gio. I am originally from Montevideo, Uruguay. I've also lived in Rome, New York, and currently reside in Chicago. I am an environmental studies student at NEIU, where I also helped lead a conservation club on campus. I decided to major in environmental studies when I realized that nature isn't a resource to be exploited, and I want to help ensure a future of cohabitation with the planet. Here at Squam, I hope to learn the skills I’ll need to help forward that goal. Time away from the city life doesn’t hurt either! To be honest, my goal is to build a self-sustaining Earthship home somewhere. My hobbies include biking, reading, and playing music. I play guitar mainly, but I also dabble on mandolin, bass, and banjo. Cannot wait to harmonize with the loons!

 

 

Jordan

I'm from Salisbury, Maryland, and am a Sophomore at the University of Maryland, College Park. I am currently majoring in Environmental Science and Policy, and am minoring in International Development and Conflict Management. I am very involved on campus, especially with Students Helping Honduras, and my fraternity. I enjoy being in the outdoors, whether that is backpacking, kayaking, or going to the beach. I am a very outgoing person and spend the majority of my time with my friends.

 

 

 

Katri

My name is Katri and I'm from Arlington, Virginia. I spent the summers of my childhood on Squam Lake and am fortunate that my parents now call the region home. I graduated from Colby College in May 2015 with a BA in the field of government. Since graduation I've held positions within my field in Washington D.C., but I realized that New England and environmental work call to me. In my free time I enjoy running, gardening, hiking, reading, and communing with trees. I'm excited to give back to Squam Lake by means of conservation work and look forward to days of activity and exhaustion.

 

 

 

Kyle

Originally from Concord, New Hampshire, I started school at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 2012. At Bates, I study Chemistry and try to fill most of my free time doing music related things. I have played Guitar in the Jazz Band at Bates as well as in personal group endeavors, and currently work as at the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall making sure that everything from lighting to recording shows runs smoothly. Growing up in New England meant growing up around lakes and rivers, so I spent my days jumping into those things, and that remains one of my favorite things to do! Last summer I got to direct a summer adventure program for 13 and 14 year olds, so I got to spend a lot of time canoeing, sailing, and hiking the area around Blue Hill, Maine.

 

 

Maggie G.

My name is Maggie Gaiero. I was born and raised in Rumney, NH and I am now a Senior attending the State University of New York at Oswego, NY. The best part of going to SUNY Oswego is tied between having direct access to Lake Ontario and getting 3 or more feet of snow in just a couple hours. So far my studies have focused on ecology and limnology including a class on oceanography. My interests include being outdoors and active be it hiking or kayaking, conservation, and reading.

 

 

 

 

Maggie K.

My name is Maggie Kelly and I'm a rising junior at St. Lawrence University in northern New York. I'm majoring in Conservation Biology with a Global Studies minor. I grew up in New Hampshire, spending my childhood exploring the mountains and lakes of New England. I love hiking, backpacking, canoeing, skiing and cooking! I've spent my past couple summers farming in Maine and doing trail work in the White Mountains, and am very excited to spend this summer interning for Squam Lake Association!

 

 

Olivia

Hi! My name's Olivia Roberts and I'm beyond excited to be able to call Squam Lake home for the summer! I'm from Vero Beach, Florida, although I was born in a very small town in upstate New York, and I can't wait to make my way back up north for the summer. I'm a rising senior at Florida State University pursuing a biology degree. In the future, I hope to become either a veterinarian or a marine biologist, but I'm still trying to figure all of that out. In the meantime, I know for sure that I want to do something that involves either animals or the incredible world that lives beneath the surface... or both! Respecting and learning about the environment has always been of utmost importance to me, as well as doing my part to help conserve it. I'm especially interested in how factors such as climate change can affect life in the sea, from the microscopic phytoplankton to the largest marine mammals, and I would love to spend my energy working to help conserve these species. I feel freedom in riding horses, scuba diving, sports, camping, and essentially anything else that involves the great outdoors. I'm ecstatic to be joining the Squam Lake conservation team this summer, and can't wait to start making both an environmental difference and countless amazing memories!

 

Stevie

I grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire where we say soft serve and not creme to describe ice cream. I am currently attending the University of Vermont, UVM, where I'm majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Wildlife Biology. I grew up doing outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking while also honing my juggling skills. Not really. I can only juggle three objects at a time. Anyways, my interests include swimming, hiking, ballroom dancing, and petting dogs. My favorite classes at UVM so far have been ornithology, fisheries techniques, and Greek mythology. I am also a peer mentor, teaching assistant and the ex-president of the UVM swim club. I don't really have a detailed plan on what I want to do after I graduate college; however, eventually I want to work within a marine protected area studying marine megafauna.

April 20, 2016

Connor, Intern Manager

I’m excited to continue working on Squam this summer as the Conservation Intern Manager! We’re only about a month away from the start of the internship, and I’m basically counting down the days until the interns arrive and the summer work begins. I’ve remained at the SLA since the end of last summer, and after a brief winter involving little plowing and snow removal, I’m excited to get back into the regular swing of things. The boats are in the water, and everything’s pretty much ready to go. There’s so much that I’m excited about doing again this summer, which is strange because most of the activities involve long hours of hard work. But all that work goes a long ways when you’re contributing to protecting the beauty around this place. I’m excited to share my experiences with the other interns, and I’m looking forward to see how they’ll engage in this environment.

Connor was an intern in 2015, and returns to the SLA as the Conservation Intern Manager in 2016. He is from Sioux City, IA and graduated from Saint John's University in May 2015 with a degree in Biology.