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.

     2016

     2015

     2014

     2013

August 21, 2017

Eric

We talk about many subjects at the intern house, and recently one of our many conversations lead to the ‘types’ of fun that there are. First, there is type one fun; the activities that are a blast in the moment. Riding a roller coaster, going waterskiing, watching a fun movie, these are all type one fun. Next is type two fun; activities that in the moment can be quite miserable, but looking back upon the completed adventure you can see the fun in it all. Over the internship we had our fair share of type one fun moments, but I feel that it was the type two moments that will be sticking with me as I head back to college this fall.

Recently I had a VERY type two day out diving on the lake. There is nothing quite like getting up at 6 am, checking your iphone to see the weather, and realizing that the “rain all day forecast” from the night before has only gotten worse in the 7 hours since you last checked. With a feeling of impending doom, Jon, Elizabeth, Nate, and I headed out to load up the boat and face our destiny, pulling gallons of milfoil in the rain.

As the day progressed and the rain got worse we erected our tiny, blue privacy shelter and huddled around to eat lunch and try to get some protection from the rain. In the moment it was quite un-fun. Cold fingers, soaked through rain jackets and shirts, work still to be done. But looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way. From the lively conversation we had to keep the mood up, to the knowledge that the work we were doing that day was making a tangible difference in the preservation of the lake, that Friday will stick with me.

Eric is a rising sophomore at Bates College where he hopes to major in environmental economics. Click here to read Eric's bio.

August 17, 2017

Steve

The saying “Time flies when you’re having fun” reflects upon my experience at Squam Lake. I have found this internship to be more rewarding than I could have ever anticipated. Learning new skills and watching myself and fellow interns progress in competence has been the most rewarding part of this internship for me.

August 24, we will go our separate ways, but we will carry our experience from Squam Lake wherever life takes us. It has been an honor serving with my fellow interns whether diving for milfoil, freezing at the bottom of Winnipesauke, or emptying poop buckets; it was comforting to know a group of fun, kind, and supportive people had my back. However, there is still time. I intend on making the most of these last days by working diligently, exploring the area, and sharing experiences with other interns.

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

August 12, 2017

Tamara

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 possesses 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.

August 10, 2017

Riley

I’m really going to miss the long rides home on Millie. They’re typically anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour long, depending on where we pull in the lake that day, and they’re one of my favorite things about this internship. Whether I’m the one driving home or not, that brief period of time is the perfect way to relax and think after a long day of harvesting milfoil.

Most of the time I utilize the ride home to think about the lake. I have come to understand that Squam will always exist in my mind in a way that few other places do: with the utmost admiration and respect of place. The green, bushy mountains float by in the distance as the shimmering lake parts for Millie, running along at her top speed of about 2 miles per hour. We pass boats who thank us for protecting the integrity of the lake, and we pass boats who have no idea what we do. Regardless, people wave and smile when they see our odd looking boat, a tribute to the sense of community created by the lake, the likes of which I really have never experienced in a region so large.

In the end, what I find most touching about our long rides home are the families that I see. Seemingly everywhere I look there are mothers and fathers teaching their children how to fish, how to drive boats, and how to apply enough sunscreen so that they don’t become a crisper under the sun and develop skin cancer on the spot. I imagine that these children will one-day view Squam in the same light as I do. They will view Squam as a place where they learned new things, and took vast strides of growth. They will view these bushy green mountains and this shimmering lake with admiration and respect, and as a place that can be considered home.

Riley is from New Jersey. He is a rising sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine and plans to major in environmental studies and political science. Click here to read Riley's bio.

August 7, 2017

Elizabeth

For fear of stating the obvious, there is a strong sense of comradery at the SLA. Turns out when a bunch of people live (predominately) in the woods together, they end up being pretty close. Past interns often come back to haunt the SLA in some capacity, campers still trek out to Bowman to peer in the cabin windows and relive summers past, peaks continue to be summited, blueberries are picked on the way to the boatshed, and traditions upheld all over the lake. But this summer, I felt an immense sense of place at the Annual Meeting just a few days ago. We spent the entire day prepping for an event while wondering whether the cold pouring rain would even allow us to have a quorum. And as 3:30pm arrived, so did the cars and the members. I then sat in a full Fisher Barn, hearing the series of presentations from Eve Porter-Zuckerman (our most recent President), our Treasurer Scott Littlejohn, the famous EB, Charlotte Kingham, and SLA’s new President Bob Lucic, surrounded by the interns and Brett (who was uncomfortably wedged into a corner). I shared an annual report with Eric and we reviewed the financial summary and whispered about the index fund returns (sometimes we Econ majors just can’t help ourselves), caught up with people, and snagged one too many berry crisp bites from the reception table. It’s not often in an intern’s life that we get to sit back and admire our work, or the SLA’s as a whole. But hearing EB praise our work and our headway on every front, knowing JSLA is having a record year, CYSP instilling the love of water and low-impact recreation every day, and hearing about overflowing Adventure Ecology programs makes me proud to put my staff shirt on every day.  Even just standing up for the applause given by those that make SLA’s finances and legality possible, and all likeminded environmental stewards, made the 14 hour days, the tired eyes and sore legs, every water bar, every milfoil root ball pulled worth it. Sometimes it’s the little things, and finding community and sense of place amongst the ranks of SLA’s movers and shakers makes me realize that it’s a big mission, but I am a big part of that mission. We don’t work for today, we work for tomorrow and the tomorrows after that. That may be the most important thing I learned this summer.

I’m not sure if this is my last intern journal or if I have one more and I am (as usual) without wifi to access the Google folder with that information as I write this, so I’ll take my chance and bid you all farewell. In just a few short weeks I will be back in horribly-landlocked but delightful Virginia and will be spending much more time indoors as I trade the White Mountains for the Blue Ridge. Squam will be very far away, and so will the friends I’ve made this summer, but the personal growth, conservation efforts, and many laughs will carry me far into the winter months. I’d like to think I’ve also made a lasting impact on this region so that it will feel my dedication and my work – along with the other nine troopers – will inspire others to pick up the torch. Until next time.

Elizabeth is from Connecticut. She currently attends Washington-Lee University and is a double major in Economics and English. Click here to read Elizabeth's bio.

August 4, 2017

Becca

How is it already August? I swear we all just got here (and I swear I had all this typed before I decided to read Nate’s last intern journal). The other day I had a flashback to the very first week we all spent together. Me, Dom, Tamara and Eric were in the truck moving wood from the parking lot to be split. I started talking to them about how moving reminded me of our first week here, when for multiple days it felt like all we did was move brush (and things in general) from one place to another. During that first week we exchanged a lot less words in a more awkward manner. In this moment, I couldn’t help but think about how two short months ago I knew not much more than a short paragraph about each intern. In such a short time I have gotten to know and love each and every person out here. I knew the social aspect of this internship would be a perfect fit for me, but I never would have imagined how strong of a bond we all would make in just a summers time. Yep, here come the tears.

The amount of work we accomplished together in such a short time is unbelievable. Every night I go to sleep knowing that I have made a positive impact on the lake in some way. While pulling 100+ gallons of milfoil in a day is extremely rewarding, for me, the jobs that I have found to be the most rewarding are perhaps what some others might consider to be a bit tedious. Making and putting in brand new swim lines, raking the lake, and cleaning the boat shed (more specifically organizing all of the lifejackets) are on the top of my list of most satisfying tasks I have done out here. They may not be as fun as diving for milfoil in a cloud of silt for hours on end, but they are recognized and appreciated by many. 

Can you tell I’m not ready to leave this place? Well, lucky for me, I’m not leaving just yet! I am not ready for the other interns to leave, but I am looking very forward to the opportunity to continue working through the fall to conserve this beautiful lake.

Oh and Nate, while you’re at the bottom of the lake looking for answers would you mind looking around for... never mind there’s nothing important down there.

Becca is from Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from Illinois State University in 2015 with a BA in Biological Sciences and a minor in Environmental Science. Click here to read her bio.

August 2, 2017

Nathan

Wait…you mean it’s August? Seriously? I thought we just finished training like…2 or 3 weeks ago, I’m only just getting settled in! Gosh, where has the time gone? Knowing our luck, it’s probably sitting on the bottom of the lake right now. All joking aside, this has been one heck of a summer. I sit here realizing that this has been my 4th internship. I’ve spent a summer working in a surgery room at an animal hospital, a summer in Texas working with baby deer and goats, and a summer as a federal inspector and water quality monitor. Now I can say I’ve spent a summer in New Hampshire as a conservationist, and I cannot be more honest when I say this has been the best summer I have ever had. As cliché as that is, again, I love clichés, it could not be any more heartfelt. I came into this land a stranger, and I feel as now I have become family.

This summer has put into perspective the kind of work needed to maintain a thriving natural area. From trail maintenance for the public to milfoil removal for the fishes I feel as though I have done it all. I feel as though I am a part of something much bigger than myself. I am a part of this whole community, both natural and anthropogenic. The Squam Lakes Association is a nonprofit, we are here for the Squam Lakes and nothing more. We are not here to make a quick buck and to live in big fancy houses. We are here to promote the conservation of this whole region and to educate our fellow man. Being able to help advance this mission is more than any monetary reward I could ever ask for.

I would be selfish if I did not mention my fellow co-workers. We have been stuck together in a single cottage for the whole summer and I am happy to report that no one has killed me yet! Granted, we still have a bit more time left. I’m trying to describe my fellow interns, along with those I work with at our headquarters but words fail me, so I’ll at least give it a shot. They are amazing, they are fantastic, they are loving, they are funny, they are kind, they are sweet, they are real, they are comfortable, they are optimistic and dang do they all look good! They are this and that and everything in between! Heaven knows I could go on and on, but I fear that I would use up a book’s worth of space.

So now I must make the decision as to whether I will be here in the fall. Do I stay with the land I have come to love and cherish, or do I move onto other opportunities? The clock is ticking, so I better act soon…before I drop it in the lake.

Nathan is from Indiana. He graduated in May of 2017 from Ball State University with a degree in biology. Click here to read his bio.

July 31, 2017

Jon

We pulled two hundred seventy five gallons of milfoil out of the Squam River this Friday. I believe that it is the most we have pulled so far in one day so far this summer. It was very meditative on the bottom of the river. The milfoil was so abundant that I closed my eyes and just felt for the plants. I completely lost track of time down there. I could not believe it when I realized that I was almost out of air and had to surface. I made my way back to the boat and looked at all the bins we had filled over the course of the day. Then I turned back to the water and looked at how much more remained to be pulled. But as I looked back at the boat and my exhausted but happy team members, instead of feeling disappointment at how much there still was to do, I felt satisfaction at what we had accomplished so far and determination to continue.

That day sums up my experience here so far. I have slipped into the routine of the job and now I cannot believe that it is almost August already. The days all seem to blur together here. Diving, camping, trail work, trail hosting, lake hosting, repeat; it has kind of lulled me into a rhythm that has the days and weeks slipping by with startling swiftness. Soon it will be time to say goodbye to the people and places that I have come to care about here.

As I look back at all we have done so far I can honestly say that I am proud of what I have done this summer and it is not even over yet! I am excited to see what challenges are still in store this summer! I know there is still so much left to do and I am excited to see what happens next. Just like Friday’s dive day I am proud of what we have done so far and excited for the future challenges.

Jon is from Georgetown, Massachusetts. He is studying Wildlife and Fisheries Management at Unity College where he will be entering his senior year this coming fall. Click here to read his bio.

July 29, 2017

Alice

I struggle to find the right words to describe what this summer has been to me. It has been so unique in so many ways. This job is the kind of job I dreamed of when I was a little kid. I am sure that sounds preposterous, as 90% of what we do is hard manual labor involving, but by no means limited to: hauling buckets of poop around, hiking heavy tools up mountains, and splitting wood. I recognize how comical it is to know that 7 year old me, who could have had aspirations of being a veterinarian, professional actor, or tennis professional, dreamed of running around in the woods and getting dirty for a living.

I have come to accept that I do not know where professional life will take me. In college it was nice to think that I had a reasonable life plan. A life plan with probably more wiggle room for change than the average college senior. But not since I was a kid did I imagine I would be working somewhere like this. I have experienced firsthand the impact a small number of individuals can make on the community and environment. Variable Milfoil, an invasive that’s growth speed brings to mind things like kelp, has actually decreased in abundance. We never say the words “elimination” when speaking about invasive removal, but rather “control.” However, “control” seems like a word of stasis, with the relative abundance neither going up or down. What it comes down to is this: I am optimistic.

Along with the positive impact on the environment the Squam Lakes Association (SLA) has had, it has had an impact on me. I have learned an incredible amount about myself, and the person I aspire to be, through my interactions with the incredible people I work with. This starts with my fellow Interns. My colleagues who all have very different aspirations than my own, extremely different personalities, and the same drive to conserve this lake. Although the work here is rewarding, these 9 individuals have made this summer unforgettable. The interns themselves to not make the SLA. There is JSLA staff, the camp staff that encourages young kids to connect with the lake and surrounding area. There is the Community Youth Sailing Program, which was responsible for leading Elizabeth on her path to finding this internship. And finally, there is the staff of the SLA. The people who taught and mentored all of us throughout this summer. People who care for the health of the lake so much that they have spent years devoting their life to stewardship. Even though E.B’s son calls us superheroes, these are the people I think wear that title best.

Alice is from Durham, North Carolina. She graduated from Goucher College in May of 2017 where she majored in biology and minored in chemistry. Click here to read her bio.

July 27, 2017

Eric

Hiking has always been one of my favorite outdoor activities. Growing up I would go on daytrips with my parents and, as I got older, lunches on the top of a mountain turned into week long backpacking trips. However, until recently I feel as if I have taken for granted the amount of work that is required to maintain the trails that I love. On one of the earlier days of the internship, we were taken out and shown how to do basic trail maintenance, from removing encroaching brush to clearing out waterbars. This was not easy work, but it didn’t give me the full respect I now have for the true difficulty that maintenance can entail.

Recently, we started putting in new stone features on West Rattlesnake’s Old Bridle path. A delivery of rock and gravel to the base of the mountain three weeks ago, and someone has to move all that material from the base of the mountain to the work site, halfway up the trail. While some of the labor was ‘crowdsourced’ to people doing their day hikes, the larger rocks could not be handed out in the same regard. With help from the University of New Hampshire, Elizabeth and I had the pleasure of moving the granite pavers up the mountain. We carried these massive hunks of rock, weighing in at over 125 lbs, up the mountain. After several trips, empty nalgenes, and covered in sweat all the pavers had finally made their way to the site.

The work is hard, but rewarding. I love to hike, and it is great to finally be able to give back in such a tangible way. Tens of thousands of people hike rattlesnake each year, and with each passerby the trail gets a little wider. What started out as a two foot wide trail many years ago is now close to six feet wide at many points. The hope is that a better-defined trail will keep people on it, keeping the trail from widening anymore. These are the features I took for granted, but not anymore.

Eric is a rising sophomore at Bates College where he hopes to major in environmental economics. Click here to read Eric's bio.

July 24, 2017

Dominique

The day started off as any typical trail work day would. Nate, Elizabeth, and I loaded up the car with the tools we would require to do maintenance on some of the trails in the Rattlesnake network. Loppers, a folding saw, a Macleod, fire rakes, and a pick axe/mattock were all accounted for in the back as we made our way to the trailhead. We arrived at the Butterworth Trail while Brian, our Volunteer Coordinator, and his group started at the Col Trail. We were zipped from head to toe in rain gear, it was drizzling, but we were not overly wet. We continued on the trail, falling into a sync of hiking and stopping to rid the trail of blow downs, clear water bars, and cut back new vegetation. The rain had picked up, but we were under the canopy of the trees for most of the hike. When we reached the end, we stopped at a little rock face to eat lunch. As if on cue, the moment we began taking our first bites it started torrentially downpouring. Silently, we ate our lunch even as the water soaked into the bread of our sandwiches. Our rain gear had failed us. We were soaked from head to toe. Once we finished lunch we continued on with our work, completely uncomfortable but still determined to knock out more trails. The more that we hiked, cleared trees and water bars, and lopped, the more tired I became. A trail that I could normally fly up and down I found myself barely able to complete. We returned to our car, feeling slightly defeated and completely soaked. When we arrived back at the SLA headquarters we met with Brian where we discovered we had done trail maintenance on about 3 miles of trails. This may seem low, but between the three interns in one group and Brian and his group of volunteers, we managed to finish about 90% of the trails in the Rattlesnake network in one rainy afternoon. It was cold and uncomfortable, but it was the most satisfying day of trail work I’ve had yet.

Not every trail work day is like that. On July 4th, Alice, Tamara, Riley, and I completed Mount Percival in temperatures upwards of 80 degrees. It was hot and humid but the view at the top alone made it all worthwhile. As seen in the picture, I’m all grins as I point to Moon Island in the distance and Riley is hidden in the back taking a quick snooze. Trail maintenance is hard and often uncomfortable, but it is the most rewarding thing that I have done so far. I’ve hiked in this area since I was little, but it wasn’t until this summer that I realized how much dedication needs to be put into trails to maintain their integrity. None of this would be possible without the help of wonderful volunteers as well. We have trail crews going out most Thursdays in the summer, check out our calendar to see where and when if you want to help us out https://www.squamlakes.org/calendar.

Of all the important and useful things that I have learned this summer, here are some of my favorites: docks are slippery when wet, raccoons really like me, milfoil is our enemy, and whatever can go wrong, will probably go wrong (but don’t worry, we can -almost- always fix it).

Dominique is rising junior at Plymouth State University studying Environmental Biology and minoring in Sustainability. Click here to read Dominique's bio.

July 20, 2017

Steve

After a hectic week of diving to pull milfoil, I find myself sitting aboard Millie at Bennet Cove with no impending tasks. I am left with only the surroundings and my thoughts to entertain myself for the next hour and a half, as I tend for SLA’s Weed Watcher program. The Weed Watchers are a group of volunteers who patrol areas of the Squam in search of milfoil. If milfoil is found, we the interns will likely be the ones returning to pull it. As I sit on Millie absorbed in my thoughts, I seemed to morph into the surroundings, and the wildlife began to emerge. Three ducks popped up from the brush and stopped at the water’s edge, hesitant to get in. They groomed their plumage for 10 minutes, before slipping into the water. I suspect this behavior may be intended to conserve heat. I was also amused by observing a small bird terrorize two hawks. As we prepared to leave, a Great Blue Heron buzzed by us. Moments like this invigorate me to continue the conservation efforts or which I am a part. I will return to Bennet Cove Inlet Monday with Dom, Becca, and Tamara. We will annihilate the milfoil.

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

July 17, 2017

Tamara

Three years ago, I attended a pollinator talk back in Minnesota when the decline of bee species was becoming more prevalent. My big take away from the talk was that pollinators need native plants for food and native plants need pollinators to reproduce. I know what you all must be thinking: duh. But, my big “ah-ha” moment was with that keyword “native”. Native plants are plant species that have evolved and adapted to a specific location without alteration by people (this is one of many definitions). This means that plant species are used to the climate, soil conditions, and wildlife (i.e pollinators!), and wildlife has evolved and adapted alongside the plants around them. The two go hand in hand. If one part of the relationship is declining, the other suffers. A huge reason why pollinators are in decline is because of the loss, conversion, and degradation of natural habitat and native plants by humans who alter the land to create farms, towns, baseball fields, etc. With less native plants, pollinators have a diminished food source which lowers their numbers.

Native plants are also important when it comes to erosion control since native plants have long roots that branch out. Their large root systems hold soil together and keeps the soil from washing downstream. Their root systems also hold much more water compared to some other plants such as turf grass, which have shorter roots. The root systems of native plants help reduce the amount of water that runs off the landscape and flows into water systems. In terms of home lawns, turf grass only holds a small percent of rainwater while the rest runs off into bodies of water, carrying along with it pesticides and other chemicals that are sprayed on lawns which impacts the water quality and wildlife.

Because of my love of native plants and pollinators, I hosted an adventure ecology program through the Squam Lake Association devoted solely to discussing and identifying native plants in Whitten Woods in Ashland. I planned on sharing information on why native plants are crucial in their ecosystems during the hike up to south peak. This did not happen since the nine participants, Dom, and I became engrossed in the identifying process. We spent the two hours really observing the plants along the trail, touching the leaves and stems, smelling the flower blossoms and crushed leaves to practice a more engaging way of learning about the world around us (none of the plants identified were poisonous). Although we did not have a discussion about why native plants are important, I hope that everyone there was able to walk away with a growing sense of appreciation, and excitement for the plants around them in their lives. Hopefully the excitement of native plants turns into the desire to learn more about them and incorporate native plants into home lawns to make small differences in this world.

The picture attached shows me and seven of the nine participants. Elizabeth’s lovely mom and dad left early and are not shown. Fun and educational Adventure Ecology programs will continue throughout the summer on Fridays hosted by the Squam Lakes Association interns! Click here to see this summer's Adventure Ecology programs.

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.

July 15, 2017

Riley

Last week, Alice, Becca, and I joined our Volunteer Coordinator, Brian, for a day of trail work in the area surrounding Mt. Livermore. Much of the area is old growth forest, meaning that many of the trees are over a century old. It’s quite an incredible feeling to hug a tree which has a circumference that is most certainly three times one’s wingspan. But what I found most impressive from an ecological standpoint were actually the sections of new growth forest that we hiked through that day. As we lopped, cleaned water bars, cleared blow-downs, and re-blazed on Old Mountain Highway, a trail that the SLA maintains, Brian informed us that this trail was the original Route 113. This truly fascinated me, as today it is quite difficult to imagine the trail once existing as a highway. The path, once overrun with houses and farms, is now overrun by new growth trees and foliage.

The only real sign of the old highway is a graveyard adjacent to the path’s early stages. Certainly this graveyard used to be well trafficked and well cared for, as the lettering on most of the stones, from as far back as the 1820’s, can still be made out. But now it rests overgrown and lonely, the last remaining symbol that this area once had an entirely different look and purpose. This, I believe, will be one of the biggest takeaways from my work with the Squam Lakes Association: that with proper care and minimal human impact, ecosystems can recover. The land in which you tread whilst enjoying an SLA trail most likely used to be clear-cut for grazing. It is a tribute to nature’s resounding resiliency that we are able to enjoy the Squam region as it exists in its green glory today. And in truth, it is because of hard work done by organizations like the SLA that we are able to observe this resiliency first hand, on trails that flaunt this area’s ecological prowess, while also keeping human impact to a minimum.

Riley is from New Jersey. He is a rising sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine and plans to major in environmental studies and political science. Click here to read Riley's bio.

July 13, 2017

Elizabeth

Last week underwater, I understood why a show of force is often an indicator for an insecure ego or perceived threat to safety. While kneeling in a cloud of silt in Asquam Marina, a huge catfish would not leave me alone. I normally don’t mind when I find a friend underwater – be it a turtle, bass, or even a fellow intern – but this monstrous fish looked rather displeased that I was so close to her nest, and she wasn’t budging. I kept eyeing her in between harvesting plants, but the cloud of silt I was creating was beginning to encompass the fish. That added another layer to the irrational panic that was setting in. Visibility was quickly going away, I was 15 feet underwater, and there was a huge disgruntled fish somewhere in the cloud of muck. And so, in a moment of fear I did what I have never done while diving before, I (attempted to) aggressively grab the fish. Normally, divers go in search of wildlife and the interns are thrilled to see anything other than the striking green and plumy fronds of Milfoil. Not this time. Of course, with one flick of her tail she was gone before I could lay a finger on her but the lasting implications of that moment stuck around much longer than that catfish. Watching the empty water where the fish was a moment before, I felt pleased and secure that I could still scare it away, even though it was scaring me. Even in its habitat, I had the upper hand. There was a sense of comfort in that, though later I realized that of course the fish could be back at any moment and I would never have known, because my flailing had only succeeded in kicking up more silt. I had never quite understood why kids bullied other kids on the playground, or people felt the need to unnecessarily toot their own horn, and other such behavior. But I realized in that moment, with a handful of milfoil in one hand with my SCUBA bubbles racing to the surface, and my other arm trying to defend myself against a fish that couldn’t hurt me, that I had assumed that role. That was a new one for me to occupy, and I spent the rest of my dive contemplating the implications on my understanding of social dynamics that this interaction between the catfish and I had sparked.

As I’m sure our readership has realized thus far, we interns spend a considerable amount of time breathing compressed air and harvesting Variable Milfoil. And while our knowledge of – and appreciation for – these plants and the physics and engineering behind our eradication tools have increased exponentially over the past month and a half, I find myself discovering and learning far beyond the reaches of what I expected. In my last journal, I promised that this summer would be full of realizations, a rebuilt understanding of the lake, and an always deepening appreciation of Nature. It has not disappointed. I have taught people to kayak while working Headquarters on July 4th, been designated bug-catcher (and releaser) because I “work for the SLA,” surveyed coves that were once dominated by Milfoil and now are free from the invasive species, and climbed the peaks of this Range and dove its depths. Every inch of this region holds a lifetime of learning and inspiration, stay tuned for more revelations and Naked-Eyeball moments.

But aside from all of the serious work and deep reflections, we have lots of goofy moments too during our long days on the dive boat – some of which include megaphones.  

Elizabeth is from Connecticut. She currently attends Washington-Lee University and is a double major in Economics and English. Click here to read Elizabeth's bio.

July 10, 2017

Becca

A tear nearly streams down my face as I sit on the caretaker dock at Chamberlain Reynolds, or as we like to call it in the intern house, chamberlain rentals. I am looking across the lake to a beautiful fully set sun with nothing left but rainbow hues; the moon is shining brightly down right above my head and fireworks are going off in the distance. In this special moment, I realized just how important all the work we do is and how lucky I am to be spending a summer in such an amazing place.

My first experience camping alone for the weekend started off not so great. The rain was persistent both Friday and Saturday night. Being stuck in my tent for hours at a time was not exactly how I pictured my weekend going, but I knew Sunday would bring sunshine, so I did what I could to get through the first two days while looking very forward to Sunday.

Sunday arrived and I had a jammed packed day. The day started with putting in swim lines. This proved to be a little more time consuming than we had originally anticipated due to the excessive amount of knots that needed to be untied. Lucky for me, I had the help of Alice, Stephen, and Katri. The next task, the one I was a little too excited for was raking the lake. The leaves were piled nearly a foot high on the beach. Before even being told that this was something I needed to do, I already knew I wanted to tackle the job. We raked, poked, picked, shoveled, grabbed, pretty much tried every technique out there to dig the leaves out of their tightly compacted area and then move them out of the way. The results after a few short hours were incredible. This was one of the most satisfying things I have done out here, like I said I may have been a little too excited about this task. The rest of my afternoon was spent cleaning bathrooms and checking in campers. It was an exhausting day, but it was filled with tasks that I know are appreciated by everyone who visits the campsites.

When my “work” day ended, none of it felt like work. I sat on that dock and thought about how all of this work is not just so the visitors can enjoy this beautiful land, but I too am able to enjoy it.

Becca is from Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from Illinois State University in 2015 with a BA in Biological Sciences and a minor in Environmental Science. Click here to read her bio.

July 7, 2017

Nathan

I’ll just sit here, mandolin in hand, and good friends a stone’s throw away who always brighten my day.

They call the Squam Lakes the “Quiet Lakes” and compared to the tourist behemoth next door-Lake Winnipesauke- this may hold true, but this summer has not been quiet. Two weeks into our normal rotating schedule, most of us interns are doing something different every day and aside from the four that may head out to dive that day, everyone is doing something different. Since one or two of us are out camping every night the intern house is a little emptier, but not quiet. Come five o’clock in the evening the house is filled with discussions about what we each have done that day. “I saw insert animal here” or, in some cases, “I charged at insert this animal here-I’m looking at you, catfish. “I met insert local legend here”- like Joe, who frequently gives the dive crew ice cream whenever they are on the Squam River. It never ceases to amaze me the kind of people you meet on a daily basis out here.

What’s my favorite job out here? Oh dear reader, if only that was a simple question to answer. I could say diving to eradicate variable milfoil from the lakes, because you get to see some amazing creatures underwater. You also get the satisfaction of knowing that you are benefiting the ecosystem as a whole by removing an invasive plant that can takeover entire bodies of water and outcompete many of the native plants. I could also say trail hosting is my favorite as I get to sit on my behind at the base of the Rattlesnake Mountains-our most popular trail- and talk to hundreds of people about what I love, the land I am growing to love, and spreading the gospel of land conservation. There is the option of saying my favorite is heading out to the islands/Chamberlin-Reynolds Memorial Forest as a campground host, because who wouldn’t love to camp as part of their job? Again, you meet awesome people and can spend your day hiking the trails and improving them for others to love- as long as you don’t mind cleaning our composting toilets on the side and dealing with Betsy, the island-hopping raccoon that has a hobby of stealing people’s food and sneaking up on you in the dark. I would like to take a moment to mention that all the jobs I just mentioned fall under our mission statement, you can read the statement in full on our website: squamlakes.org. Anyway, these jobs are only a few of the many jobs I get to do here as a conservation intern and this is why I can’t pick just one favorite.

The only times that may be considered quite is at sunset when I’m sitting on the bank of the lake. Mandolin in hand, I find renewed inspiration for playing as I become lost in the beauty that is Squam Lake. I find myself filled with emotion and next thing I know it has been an hour and my fingers are red and sore, but I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m at a point where I should probably figure out what I’m going to be doing come the end of August. Maybe I should get a real job, but I’m also entertaining the thought of sticking around here in the fall. Graduate school appears on my horizon and I should probably start prepping for that too, but right now I’ll just sit here, mandolin in hand, and good friends a stone’s throw away who always brighten my day.

Nathan is from Indiana. He graduated in May of 2017 from Ball State University with a degree in biology. Click here to read his bio.

July 2, 2017

Jon

I sit down to write this still damp from a day of milfoil removal via scuba diving. We pulled over 90 gallons of milfoil out of the lake today and I barely feel like we scratched the surface. But looking at the buckets of invasive species that would still be in the lake if it wasn’t for us, I can’t help but feel satisfied.

Today is a good metaphor for this internship as a whole. When I take it day by day it seems that we have accomplished many small things but when I think back on what we have done I am amazed at how much has occurred.  I gained my scuba diving certification and have done over 10 open water dives to harvest variable milfoil. I helped create a new hiking trail with SLA volunteers that everyone will be able to enjoy. I participated in adaptive training with Eastern Adaptive Sports to help handicapped people participate in outdoor activities. The other interns and assist with water quality research to help the SLA better understand and protect Squam Lake. When these things were happening it was easy to forget the significance but looking back it is hard to underestimate their importance.

The rotating schedule for the interns started. We do different things every day like trail hosting, lake hosting, diving, trail work, and caretaking on the islands. With all these duties all of the interns are never in the house at the same time. The house quieter and less hectic. I miss the social aspect of having everyone in one place but it allows us to bond with each other. Overall it has been a great summer and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Jon is from Georgetown, Massachusetts. He is studying Wildlife and Fisheries Management at Unity College where he will be entering his senior year this coming fall. Click here to read his bio.

June 30, 2017

Alice

When I was young, perhaps eight or nine, I went on a snorkeling trip with my family in the Caribbean. I vividly remember this trip due to an incident that occurred while I was peacefully exploring the bottom of the ocean – I saw an octopus. This Chihuahua sized octopus instilled such fear in me that I sprinted back to the boat (I had seen The Little Mermaid one to many times). I reminisce about this encounter and wish I had remained to take in this beautiful creature in its natural habitat.

Squam Lake, though not host to Ursula-esc octopi, is home to some truly intriguing creatures, many of which I have now experienced in close quarters. These include loons, catfish, and snapping turtles. Though there are many other animals in the lake, I feel I must devote my time to these three. I will start with the loons, a bird I had never heard about before coming here. I have realized that the people of New Hampshire are strangely obsessed with them. With ghost-like calls in the night, the lung capacity of a penguin, and nerves of steel when it comes to approaching boats, it is no wonder that they are cause for such fascination. However, when you are in the water and a loon pops up ten feet away from you, a new words comes to mind to describe them: intimidating.

Catfish. It is difficult to know where to begin. It is even more difficult to know where to go. All I will say is this: they are protective creatures who like to reside in and around patches of variable milfoil and will bite your leg repeatedly if you don’t get out of their space.

I leave the best for last: snapping turtles. These are animals I have always known to keep my distance from. Just the other week we discovered one laying eggs in the parking lot, roped off the area, and then moved the eggs to a safe location once the momma had vacated the premises. This was a heartwarming encounter; one that I can look back on and smile. But as time will tell, from tiny octopi and defensive catfish, I have notoriously terrifying underwater encounters. I promise you, if you accidently found yourself not two feet from a snapping turtle the size of a grown man’s torso, you would freak out too.

It may seem from these stories that diving for variable milfoil is treacherous and full of danger. However, the days I have gotten to spend under water have been my favorite days so far. Not even receiving threatening glares from loons, getting eaten by catfish, and coming across a monster of a turtle can ruin a day out on the lake. In much the same way as my run-in with the octopus, I look back on these times and smile.

Alice is from Durham, North Carolina. She graduated from Goucher College in May of 2017 where she majored in biology and minored in chemistry. Click here to read her bio.

June 26, 2017

Dominique

Picture this. I am fifteen feet underwater floating effortlessly still and breathing as comfortably as I would be on land. The only thing I can hear is the light hum of water surrounding my ear drum and the rhythmic bubbles released from my exhaled breaths. I am encompassed by sunbeams cutting through the blue green, crystal-clear water. The pond weed reaching from the bottom to the surface resembles an underwater forest from some parallel universe. To my left is Katri, my intern manager, and three feet to my right is an enormous spawning smallmouth bass. In front of us is a small patch of invasive variable milfoil, which together we dig out its roots, careful not to make any fragments, and place it in a mesh bag attached to our side.

This is what I experienced on my second dive day while hand-pulling here at the Squam Lakes Association as a conservation intern. Luckily for me, scuba diving for the prolific variable milfoil is one of the more common things that we do as interns for “work” and it is quickly becoming my favorite. Variable milfoil was first identified in Squam in 2000, but a new infestation has not been observed since 2007. This is largely due in part to the work of SLA staff, numerous volunteers, past interns, and of course Millie, the boat that is home to the Diver Assisted Suction Harvester (DASH), which was designed by the SLA’s own Director of Recreation, Brett Durham.

The immense satisfaction of clearing a patch of milfoil is enough to keep us coming back day after day to do it again. After three dive days in a row I started dreaming about pulling it from the floor in our intern cottage. Another intern went on a run and was taken back for a moment when a blown over tree resembled a milfoil stem swaying in the water a little too closely. I don’t believe I speak for myself when I say that the lakes beauty has had a profound impact on all the interns and it is that beauty that drives us to work towards keeping it pristine for years to come.

So far, I have been personally tormented by a raccoon that always seems to be one step ahead of me (her name is Betsy), cleaned out numerous buckets of composted poop, and moved a lot of stuff from one place to another, and then often to another. Even with all these misadventures, it is the tangible results that we can already see from our work that puts a smile on our face, even when we are up to our elbows in knee deep backed up drainage below a composting toilet. Stay tuned.

Dominique is rising junior at Plymouth State University studying Environmental Biology and minoring in Sustainability. Click here to read Dominique's bio.

June 23, 2017

Eric

In the first week of our training we interns had a cheesy moment when during one session of training we were told not to be responsible, but to be response-able. This was accompanied by a nice visual of response-able spelled out on a large easel, with the able part underlined in red marker. The idea behind ‘response-able’ is that we, as interns, are not trained to know the exact solution for every problem we encounter, but rather we are able to solve problems using our own individual methods, i.e, we are able to respond. Much of our training reflected this ethos, with emphasis placed on figuring solutions out to problems instead of memorization. Training in this way felt much harder than the more traditional methods I have grown accustomed to over years of schooling, where teachers gave me all the needed information and walked me through the steps. However, training in this fashion allows for us to be more independent, encourages creativity, and favors practical solutions over theoretical ones. ‘Response-able’ training involves making mistakes (which we have made many of), and learning from them, figuring out what went right and what went wrong.  

With the summer schedule in full swing it now makes sense to me why we were trained in this fashion. As I write this I am preparing to spend my first solo weekend on Bowman Island. I will spend three days on an island, with no cell phone service and no internet. The problems I face I will have to solve on my own. I won’t be able to Google for a solution or phone my dad. Hopefully there won’t be any massive issues needing immediate attention, but even so, I feel prepared should one occur, as training in this fashion builds one's self-efficacy, one's belief in their own ability to finish an objective.

Looking forward, I expect my fellow interns and I will have to be quite response-able this summer. We have already managed to break a number of things, from windows to boats, and I only expect this list to grow. We raised a mouse and caught a squirrel. Have had to fend off raccoons from our food supplies. Every day I wake up and head off to work I have no idea what to expect, the only certain is that I know I am prepared, and able to respond.

Eric is a rising sophomore at Bates College where he hopes to major in environmental economics. Click here to read Eric's bio.

June 21, 2017

Steve

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.

June 17, 2017

Tamara

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.

 

June 15, 2017

Riley

Windows down, wind rushes through my overgrown hair and beard. There's a song on, I don't know its name but it’s pretty and the car seems to move to its sound. I am surrounded by good people, fellow interns Stephen, Dom, Elizabeth, and Becca. We are on our way home to the cottage after a long day of hiking in the White Mountains. We are close now, as my eyes recognize the forests of Holderness as they fly by. I have always enjoyed riding in cars in the summertime, but I certainly have never felt like this. 

Memories take me back to long drives with my family during my childhood. My mother and father man the front two seats, my brother is beside me, and my dog, Boomer, is trying his very best to find the perfect wind accessing point. I feel connected to all of them, we are bonded by love. But never do I remember feeling connected to the world beyond the car in the same way, to the forests, lakes, and towns that passed us by. 

I notice now that this has changed. As we roam through Holderness and approach SLA, I am hypnotized by the natural beauty that surrounds us. On one side of the car lie the woods, and Squam rests on the other. I feel connected to both, a bond forged through my interactions within them. The first three weeks of this internship have required us to actively participate in conserving both woods and water. I have aided in the upkeep of trails, working towards maintaining the natural integrity of the forests encompassing Squam Lake. Similarly, I have begun to help in SLA's mission to control invasive milfoil within the watershed, through hand-picking it while scuba diving. 

I have dirtied my hands in the worlds that currently whiz past me. I know those woods, I know that water, and I know the people sitting beside me. I have never felt so connected in one moment, and certainly have rarely felt so alive. 

Riley is from New Jersey. He is a rising sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine and plans to major in environmental studies and political science. Click here to read Riley's bio.

 

June 12, 2017

Elizabeth

I am crouched on slightly rotting wooden boards with my head dipped under the composting toilets on Bowman Island, inspecting the horribly flooded system from the seemingly endless rain as the mosquitos dive-bomb me and my shoes slowly become soaked with questionable water and muck. Needless to say, not my favorite moment on the lake thus far. To throw fuel on an already burning fire, my arms aren’t long enough to reach the clips necessary to remove the bin full of the solid waste, though I had of course managed to stir up enough silt so that I was now flying blind as well. Overwhelmed, incredibly frustrated, knees burning from squatting for what feels like an eternity, and tired of smelling decay, I am ready to quit.

But then I remember I’m not alone – Stephen is hovering nearby doing other tasks and luckily for me is 6’3” and has much longer arms then I do (though I know this is hard to believe since I tower over most at a lofty 5’4”). And he is willing to help with my job, though he has already serviced two other toilets today. Together, we quickly got everything taken care of and moved on to other things. Key word, together. Alone it was a daunting task, but as a unit it became manageable. After a quick dip in the lake, and generous amounts of hand sanitizer, I found myself wrapped around a big pine tree, and smiling. Picture attached.

Riley calls that afternoon #2 fun (pardon the pun). When I asked, I learned it’s a day that’s not your favorite, but when time has passed you look back and laugh. I’m not sure I’m there yet, though I have definitely learned a lot about myself and about what it takes to make this glorious lake function. I had always assumed that Squam existed in large part due to the gentle footprints left by those that visit. My time at SLA this summer has proven me very wrong – in fact there are people all over the lake fighting tooth and nail to keep Squam a pristine ecosystem. They do not necessarily end up on the evening news, but from sky to summit to “sea” their determined efforts defend and protect this lake. I am part of that quiet army now, and so everything we do as interns is important – from the toilets to diving for milfoil to trail work to lake hosting. The jobs are just too important to quit. The mission – both SLA’s and the one everyone who puts a toe or a prop into Squam must adopt – is greater than any one of us. So, day in and day out, we do what needs doing. And more times than not, I go to bed sore from laughing, full of group dinner, and fall asleep to the lullaby of bullfrogs from our open window. Most importantly, ready to do it all again (and more) the next day.

It is in these moments of grit that I begin to grasp the depth of my love for this lake and its wildlife and the people it attracts. I have been on Squam every year I have been alive, and I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the lake, both with regards to its ecology and culture. These three weeks have deconstructed – and rebuilt – my appreciation and understanding for this magical place. I know this is only the beginning, this summer will inevitably be a continuous process of dismantling and reassembling. We are just getting started.

I sit here, in a rare moment indoors and under artificial light, watching Alice and Tamara in the kitchen preparing food for our upcoming camp out, playing Phantom of the Opera and singing along. My fingers and forearms are sore from an evening session of rock climbing at the Fisher Barn with Jon (who’s since been renamed Jojo), Becca and Dominique are laughing downstairs as they fill their dry bags to capacity for our camp out this weekend, and Eric and Nate sit with noses buried in books. All is well. I know while each day will inevitably bring its challenges, it will also bring its moments of joy and appreciation for this golden lake, and the lifelong friendships I will forge over the coming months.

I am a tree hugger, this is my crew of ten, and we are* the keepers of Squam Lake. 

*(some of)

Elizabeth is from Connecticut. She currently attends Washington-Lee University and is a double major in Economics and English. Click here to read Elizabeth's bio.

 

June 9, 2017

Becca

The cold never bothered me anyway... and luckily, the rain doesn’t either.

This song lyric rings very true to the first few weeks out here on Squam Lake. It is not only relevant to the weather conditions, but this song has been played and sung around the house on more than one occasion. One night a few of the interns, myself included, sang a beautiful rendition of the entire Frozen soundtrack, in addition to the High School Musical soundtrack. Well, I guess I shouldn’t really say beautiful, as some of us, again, myself included don’t have the greatest voice ever. It’s not easy competing with Alice’s lovely voice. We should save both the singing and the cooking for her!

The cold and rain have not stopped us from getting any work done and definitely haven’t stopped us from having fun on days off either. On our day off this week, four of us climbed Mt. Morgan in the pouring rain. This was the beginning of our quest to become Squam Rangers. The Squam Ranger program here at SLA encourages you to get out and hike all 50 miles of trails surrounding the lake. Part of the work we will be doing this summer is focused on maintaining all of these trails. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into making sure all of the trails are marked, cleared and disturb as little vegetation as possible. Volunteers are also a huge part of maintaining the trails. I have only worked one day of trail maintenance this summer, but that alone has already given me a new appreciation for all the hard work that Brian and all the volunteers put in. Together our efforts allow the public to enjoy all the trails here on Squam. I am very much looking forward to not only working to maintain the trails, but also spending my off days hiking them for pleasure.

It has only been just over two weeks since we arrived here, but with how much we have learned it feels like months have gone by. The work is certainly not always easy, but it is all extremely rewarding!

Becca is from Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from Illinois State University in 2015 with a BA in Biological Sciences and a minor in Environmental Science. Click here to read her bio.

June 6, 2017

Nathan

So, the first two weeks are the hardest right? I don’t actually know the answer to this question. I sit here hopeful they are not. I always like a good challenge and these two weeks have not disappointed. I can now say that I am Wilderness First Aid certified, CPR certified, Safe Boating Certified, I’ve passed all the requirements for a New Hampshire Commercial Boating License, and the biggie: I am SCUBA Certified! So as cliché as it sounds, hard work pays off.  Lo and behold there are more certifications on the horizon! I’m not afraid of hard work and manual labor, because it does the body good and the sense of accomplishment afterwards is one of the best rewards- probably another cliché but I’m being honest here.

I know this is going to be a great summer based on the people I’m spending the summer with! I love my fellow interns and that is normally a difficult statement for me to make after only knowing people for two weeks. There just seems to be a rapid bond that emerges when you live and work with nine other people. Coming into this internship I was hesitant to share my life with this many strangers but I’ve found that it comes naturally. The personality clashes, control issues, and disorganization I was a little fearful of has yet to manifest itself and at this point. I can confidently say that manifest they shall not! We just mesh too well. Everyone seems to be finding their roles within the group be it the group mother, the one you can always count on for a good laugh, the one you can’t have a bad conversation with, and so on. I could honestly go on and on to describe each person’s role within the group but I would exceed any readers’ patience at that point.

As for me, I can’t say what my role is yet. Maybe it’s the music guy, whom you can count on to have a song for every situation- despite the cringes from his housemates. Maybe it’s the nature know-it-all who gets distracted way too easily by a pretty bird or a tree he can’t identify- again to the cringes of his housemates. Ultimately my fellow interns will guide me into a role whether I like it or not, but no matter what I will embrace it- so they best be careful.

It has taken me forever to figure out how to put these last two weeks to paper from my perspective, because I find myself at a loss for words. I’ve had a blast so far and I see it as a sign of good things to come this summer. So long as my fellow interns- whom I feel I will be referring to as my family come summer's end- can put up with me, this will be the summer of a lifetime.

Nathan is from Indiana. He graduated in May of 2017 from Ball State University with a degree in biology. Click here to read his bio.

 

June 3, 2017

Jon

I sit here, exhausted after a scuba class, to write about my experience as an intern for Squam Lakes Association. I almost don't know where to begin. We have done so much already. From learning how to clean composting toilets, to getting lost trying to navigate around the lake, we have barely had time to breath. And I have loved every second of it. I go to bed exhausted every night entirely satisfied having accomplished something that day. Today I walked back to the intern house on a path that my fellow interns and I had created, in a field that we had cleared of brambles.

I can't wait to see what else we accomplish throughout the summer. We get to learn how clean the lake of all the milfoil, take water quality tests, and do loon conservation! What could be better than that? I will be making a difference in the conservation field. All while working in a beautiful place with amazing people.

We have really bonded as a group this past week. We share glances through our fogged up goggles as we shiver at the bottom of the pool during the scuba class. Two birthdays (including my own) have been celebrated in the week and a half that we have been here. Both have been amazing moments shared by everyone. I was even serenaded with the Swedish version of “Happy Birthday.” I think that sums it up.

Doing amazing worthwhile work for the summer. Check. Learning new things. Check. Having an amazing group of people to share this with. Check. I think this summer is going to be one to remember.

Jon is from Georgetown, Massachusetts. He is studying Wildlife and Fisheries Management at Unity College where he will be entering his senior year this coming fall. Click here to read his bio.

 

May 30, 2017

Alice

This past week I graduated college, drove to New Hampshire, moved into a house with nine strangers, got my boating license, drove a boat for the first time, got my wilderness first aid certification, and raked poop from an outhouse on an island in the middle of a lake. To say the least, it has been quite a whirlwind experience. This absolute flood of new experiences is drowning me in a sea of thoughts and feelings. These range from tearful farewells as I said goodbye to my college family, to jaw dropping astonishment as I rounded the corner on the highway and got my first glimpse of the northeast and its expansive mountains. If I could paint you a picture of the breathtaking beauty of Squam Lake, I would. As the English idiom goes “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Unfortunately for you, I am not a good painter. I can suggest Googling or searching Bing (for the 5 people out there that may use that), pictures of Squam Lake.

A standout highlight of my whirlwind week involves food: a thing that brings me endless joy and happiness. Food is not a new concept to me, however it is something that I missed preparing. I spent my four years at college living in a dorm and living off my college meal plan. Though a meal plan was thoroughly more time saving than cooking, I missed the joy of walking down grocery store isles and dreaming of the endless possible recipes I could concoct. I missed filling my living space with the beautiful aroma of sizzling vegetables and warm baked goods. I missed the looks on people’s faces when I tell them that the food is ready and their delighted exclamations as they ate. However, this week that all changed.

I have the pleasure of making platters of fresh veggies and cheese, brownies, pasta salad, and Belgian waffles. My cooking addiction, as that is what it is, and love of feeding people earned me the house name of “mom” within the first 24 hours of my arrival. How else would we have the energy to tackle that days tasks without a full and prepared belly? I bonded with my house-mates through hours of talking and snacking in the kitchen and living room. Constantly munching on something or other as we moved from ten strangers to ten friends.

I am excited to see how this summer unfolds. I know there will be lots to discover, pounds of milfoil to excavate, people from far and wide encountered, and new and lasting relationships forged. All, I am certain, with a constant and ever evolving menu.

Alice is from Durham, North Carolina. She graduated from Goucher College in May of 2017 where she majored in biology and minored in chemistry. Click here to read her bio.

 

2017 Intern Bios

Alice

It's Alice, like Alice in Wonderland. I hail from Durham, North Carolina, although I have spent the last four years of my life living in Baltimore. I attended Goucher College, where I majored in biology and minored in chemistry. I kept myself busy by playing tennis on my college team and working odd jobs around campus. Perhaps my favorite job was acting and eventually managing the school mascot: the gopher. I spent my entire childhood adventuring in the woods, I'm excited to have some more adventures this summer at Squam Lake.

 

Becca

My name is Becca and I am from Chicago, Illinois. I graduated from Illinois State University in 2015 with a BA in Biological Sciences and a minor in Environmental Science. My passion for the environment stemmed from a love I have had for turtles ever since I was a little girl. Some of my hobbies include running, going to concerts, tossing a frisbee, and doing puzzles. I am very excited to trade in my life in the concrete jungle this summer for diving, camping, hiking and connecting to the beautiful land that surrounds us!

 

 

 

Dominique

My name is Dominique and I am from small-town Francestown in southern New Hampshire. I am a rising junior at Plymouth State University studying Environmental Biology and minoring in Sustainability. Within my studies, I have found myself to be particularly interested in conservation as well as the many ways that humans have an impact on species diversity and ecosystems. Learning about animals and how they interact with their ecosystems has become a passion of mine. I hope in the future to have a career where I spend my time outside pursuing that passion. In my free time I enjoy hiking, playing field hockey, reading, cooking, and bird-watching. I also enjoy learning about living a sustainable lifestyle and taking small steps every day to implement those ideas into my own life. I am beyond excited for our summer as interns with the Squam Lakes Association to start!

 

 

Elizabeth

My name is Elizabeth Wolf and I am a rising senior at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. I'm a double Economics and English major. I've done substantial work in developing cost valuation structures for marine habitats in the Caribbean, mainly coral reefs. My last project was focused on Marine Protected Areas in Cuba. I have conducted field biology work for Massachusetts Audubon and after studying several species of Lepidoptera and getting to know the organization, I was asked to work with the Director to develop a Capital Campaign which has recently reached it's goal!

I'm from Connecticut, but I've been coming to the Lake every summer I've been alive, and I'm so excited to spend three months on Squam. I love everything to do with the Lakes Region and I want to do my part in helping conserve it. I love SCUBA diving, sport rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, sailing, horseback riding, and swimming. Basically I'm a fan of anything that brings me outside. After graduation in May of 2018 I hope to pursue a career where I can put my business and economics training to work in a way that can have a positive environmental impact. In the mean time, it's time to jump in with both feet to Summer of 2017!

 

Eric

Hi, I'm Eric Glover. I am from Meredith, NH, and am currently enrolled in the Bates class of 2020. Although I have yet to declare my major, I am leaning towards environmental economics, and longer term, environmental law.  The majority of my 19 summers have been spent in New Hampshire, either at summer camp or my grandparent’s lake house.  I like to spend my free time reading, hiking, or hanging out with my friends. In the winter I am an avid skier. I also like hockey, and play for the Bates club team. 

 

 

 

Jon

Hi I'm Jonathan Brock from Georgetown, Massachusetts! I am currently attending Unity College in Maine and will be a Senior when I return this Fall. I am currently studying Wildlife and Fisheries Management with a focus on the fisheries aspect of the major. I enjoy hiking, fishing, and I am an avid rock climber. I plan on becoming a fisheries biologist after graduation.

 

 

 

 

 

Nathan

You can call me Nathan or Nate, it's your preference. I'm a born and bred Hoosier having grown up in central Indiana. I just graduated with a bachelor's degree in Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Biology and Conservation and a minor in Natural Resources from Ball State University-also in Indiana. I have an interest in forest ecology and wildlife management-especially with large mammals. I've always had a love for the outdoors. Since I was 5 years old I've known that I was going to work with animals and the outdoors in some way and I consider myself blessed that this has evolved into my life-long passion. My number one rule: if it moves, catch it. If it doesn't move, still catch it. Outside of the outdoors I am a music fanatic and you can usually find myself singing or playing something as I play an assortment of instruments.

 

Riley

My name is Riley Harris and I am originally from South Brunswick, New Jersey. I am currently a first-year at Bowdoin College in Maine, working towards majors in Environmental Studies and History. I have always been a lover of the outdoors, and I especially enjoy hiking, preferably with an adorable pitbull named Frankie by my side. I'm incredibly excited to work with the Squam Lakes Association this summer, as I hope to gain an appreciation for the amount of time and effort needed to protect the delicate ecosystems that encompass the watershed. When I'm not worried about the environment I enjoy playing rugby, watching Netflix, and engaging in late-night conversations with close friends. I can't wait to spend the summer experiencing the sights and sounds of lovely New Hampshire!

 


Steve

My name is Stephen Ramage. I grew up in Fairfax, Virginia. I am a rising Junior studying Fish and Wildlife Conservation, and I am considering minoring in Watershed Management at Virginia Tech. I want to pursue a career improving the quality of natural and restored habitats while educating others on the value of maintaining a healthy environment. I see myself working as a Wildlife Refuge Manager, Wildlife Technician, or Park Ranger. Ultimately, I want to serve the community by securing natural resources for future generations. Most of my free time is spent running in the Jefferson Forest, biking, swimming, gardening, playing with Riley (family’s dog), and eating large quantities of food. I am a member of VT Trail Running/Ultramarathon Club and the American Water Resources Association at Virginia Tech (Water Club). I am also part of a community stream monitoring program that monitors upstream and downstream of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline crossing sites on Mill Creek and North Fork of the Roanoke River. Other interests of mine include cooking, playing Jenga, and creating the ugliest Easter egg. I am very excited to meet the other interns and begin working at Squam Lakes.

 

Tamara

Hey there! My name is Tamara Few. I was born and raised in Burnsville, Minnesota which is a suburb of the Twin Cities. I attended a community college for three years and received an Associates of Art degree before transferring to the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in the fall of 2016. I am a rising senior pursuing a major in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology with an emphasis in Conservation Biology. I have been working in a local school district for the last three years with students ranging from 7th to 12th grade, but I am really excited to explore environmental education with young adults in my future. In my free time, you can find me with my nose in a book or outside doing anything from gardening to camping with friends. I have never visited the northeast before, so I am pumped to be able to live and learn in a new region of the county!

 

 

 

Katri, Intern Manager

I grew up spending two weeks every summer on Squam. Every year I eagerly waited for those two weeks of bliss. Who knew that years later I would not only be living on Squam, but would also be working to conserve the lake for future generations. The most gratifying aspect of  working for the SLA is meeting first-time visitors to the region. People are amazed by the beauty of the watershed and are genuinely interested in hearing about the conservation efforts taking place in the region. I can't wait to introduce Squam to the interns so that they may cultivate their own love for the region. For those interns who already know and love the region, I can't wait for them to experience the lake from a different perspective. There is much to be done and many tiring days ahead but all of the work is incredibly rewarding, especially when sharing the experience with others. 

Katri was an intern in 2016, and returns to the SLA as the Conservation Intern Manager in 2017. She is from Arlington, VA and graduated from Colby College in May 2015 with a degree in the field of Government.