2015 Squam Conservation Intern Journal

The Squam Conservation Internship was a summer internship program that ran from 2012 to 2017. The volunteer internship provided hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities.  Interns served as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, worked toward the eradication of variable milfoil, engaged both youth and adults in environmental education, and performed other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction.

In November of 2017, the Squam Lakes Association kicked-off an AmeriCorps program that runs through all months of the year. The program is called the Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) and is modeled off of our summer internship program. LRCC members are the driving force behind the conservation efforts of the SLA. The program provides hands-on conservation work experience and numerous certifications over a broad range of areas, which ensures that LRCC members are capable of independently approaching a variety of tasks in the environmental conservation field. Members remove invasive species from the Squam watershed, manage and act as caretakers at our backcountry campsites, maintain the SLA’s 50+ miles of trails, educate the public on local and regional conservation initiatives, spearhead reports on conservation efforts, lead SLA volunteer crews and ensure the daily functioning of the Squam Lakes Association’s programs. 

Learn more about the LRCC program here.

To view the most recent journal submission, click here.

August 21, 2015


Dear Squam Lake:

This summer has probably been the most important summer of our lives. For the past three months, we have shared a home, a workplace, and have become a family. We have inside jokes which we will carry around and refer to back home, but no one will understand, we’ll end our stories with “you just have to have been there to understand”. 
Sydney left us first, off to live in the wild, and since her last day we have been thinking of each experience as “our last time doing ___.” As the days approached our last, we started making plans for the future. Julian left us next, waiting for the workers to return from the “last dive, ever”. Luckily for me, there was thunder (I was supposed to go camping) and I was able to stay and say goodbye. The next day, my last work day, went on as normal: Brett work. The day was spent, with Dougie, moving heavy objects and taking them places. Cleaning toilets will be a nostalgic experience from now on.
Ryan left earlier today, after we received our “what I like about you’s,” which no one has touched, for fear of crying in front of the remaining interns. Because: “if you cry, I’ll cry”.
  And now, as I write this letter I am having flashbacks from this summer:
Our first night together: Awkwardly talking about school and music while playing Balderdash, eventually just reading words aloud.
Our first hike together: West Rattlesnake, seeing that amazing view, and realizing that for the next three months, this would be our home.
Our first camping night together: Knowing that moments like this would be few and far between and devouring Rebecca’s mom’s brown sugar nut bits.
Our first dive together: In the swimming pool at the Laconia athletic club with BRAD SWAIN.
Our first toilet experience together: aww...crap!
Our first boat drive: Not wanting to go full speed, even though full speed is barely faster than a kayaker (that one when we bow stuffed, a kayaker actually beat us to the island and back to the cove).
Our first time pulling milfoil: watching Kyle pull every plant except milfoil, and then realizing that we would be battling the insidious weed.

There are so many things we did for the first time this summer, but not for the last.
We will not say goodbye to this beautiful place. We will not say farewell to the lake we spent our summer on. And we will not say adios to the people we spent the last 93 days with, because this will not be the last you see of us.
Don’t you forget about us Squam, we won’t forget about you.
-The Interns

Gabie is a student at Texas A&M University pursuing two degrees: Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Ecological Restoration.Read more about Gabie here.

August 20,2015 


It’s hard to believe in a short amount of time all of us interns are going to be out of here! In an even shorter amount of time I’m going to be getting in the water for my last dives.  I’ll be having my last meals with my intern family. Cleaning out my room and packing up. Momentarily, we’ll all be going to spend a glorious sunny afternoon at Beede Falls for our “intern holiday”.  Our intern dinner on the dock-boat “Calypso” went off flawlessly, and even ended in a double rainbow.
I really wonder what I’m going to look back on and remember the most about this summer.  That’s what times like these have got me thinking.  Having walked the trails and traveled the waterways so much, the lake is now ingrained in my memory.  All I’ve got to do is imagine a specific location and the memories should surely start bubbling up, soon overflowing and teeming with vivid detail!  Sort of like the dreams Rebecca warned us of, and I soon experienced, where milfoil and lake critters invade your sleep and start swirling around mystically.  Squam Lake is one of the most preserved areas I’ve ever visited, and it’s like the whole watershed is alive in High-Definition.  All of what I’ve seen and witnessed during my few months here is a gift. 
First dives on sunny calm mornings where the lake surface is eternally still and glassy are serene moments.  Getting bit on the toe by a curious pickerel while I’m in the water fixing docks is startling!  Kicking my diving flippers aggressively off the bottom of the lake sending dust clouds sky-high makes me feel like a shark jolting around, stalking shallow sandy waters.  It is equally as fun to hold both flippers together and swimming in an ‘S’ wave motion, as a seal or dolphin would.  Freezing in place so all the curious fish can come closer to investigate. Freezing feelings are quickly thawed out post-dive, after some time with our cooler, “the hotter”. The sunbeams that penetrate the waves on the surface and travel simultaneously along the lake’s bottom, or bounce up and onto the trees on the mainland, are hypnotizing. 
I will miss jumping in the lake after a hot sweaty outhouse cleaning session, and drying off minutes later.  I won’t be sharing moments of agreement as the cicada’s buzz in tune with the stifling heatwaves pouring down from the sun overhead.  My sunburns should start subsiding, at least that’s not so bad.  Sunlight is one of my favorite aspects of nature, and makes me feel the most alive! I’ve been contemplating a tattoo integrating this.  One moment I will always call back on is the time I looked out onto the lake from Route 3, and finally understood why this place is called Golden Pond.  The sunset’s effect on the water was something I have never seen throughout my travels in New England.  It was otherworldly! 
I had high hopes back in May and will leave here totally fulfilled, I think all seven of my other interns are on the same page.  We entered as landlubbers and soon enough got our lake legs underneath us.  The sailors were very fun to hang out with and got me out into pirate mode a few times.  JSLA campers brought the goodies, and were excellent camp buddies to share s’mores and campfires with!  Our supervising staff rocks for having us out here, and everyone on the lake does too for helping keep the vibes light and summery.

Dougie is from Walpole, Ma  and just graduated from Plymouth State University with a degree in Environmental Science. Learn more about Dougie here.

August 18, 2015


This has been the best summer of my life so far, without question. When I reflect back on everything we’ve worked on, everything we’ve learned, I feel as though I have been living in a dream. Every aspect of this place has worked out so surprisingly well, especially with the dynamic of the house. From the first hour of the first day, we all got along famously. My only fear is that I lose contact with these seven wonderful people, but I know that we have become much too close for that to truly happen. With Sydney leaving early, and feeling the bitter twangs that came with her departure, I knew that we would all be lifelong friends. As embarrassing as it is to admit, while writing the “What I Like About You” for each of my fellow interns, I did shed a few tears on behalf of how amazing this summer has been because of them.
On a more positive note, I can’t wait to use my experiences from this summer in new settings. For example, my adventure ecology trip, which set out to observe water quality through the biodiversity of aquatic macroinvertebrates, was simple enough that even small children could understand and enjoy it. And yet, I think I will try to implement that same basic idea as an independent study project when I go abroad next year in Tanzania. Even the loon banding with Tiffany will probably come back to help me in my future endeavors as a wildlife biologist, if I’m lucky. Of course, all the little handy things that Brett and Rebecca have taught me over the past three months will undoubtedly make my everyday life easier.
Although I will be upset to leave this place, I will keep the experiences of this summer in the highest reaches of my memory. Every sunset and starry night sky, every solemn loon call in the dusk of the lake, and even every squashed mosquito on the back of my neck; there was not one moment of being on Squam this summer, where I wished I was somewhere else. Thank you Brett and Rebecca, for letting me participate in the summer of a lifetime.

Ryan is from Williamstown, Massachusetts. He is currently pursuing a degree in biology from Bates College. Learn more about Ryan here.

August 17, 2015


I suppose as the summer comes to a close it would be a good time to reflect on everything that has happened and how being at Squam Lake this summer has impacted me. Short version: in every way a person can be impacted. This internship has been everything I thought it would be plus more. My first week here it was strange thinking that I would be put in charge of driving a boat. Who would let me do that? Recently when driving the infamous ‘Millie’ to dive sites early in the morning I would think about how I got to where I was. It’s something that everyone does now and then, just a quick look back at the steps that lead to where you have gotten to. It’s strange. I signed up for the internship on a whim, and at this point I couldn’t even begin to imagine what I would have done differently.
I’m naturally an introvert and have always erred on the side of personal time with the occasional social smidge. Squam fit me perfectly. I was able to go camping by myself, eat breakfast with everyone in the morning, have personal time contemplating how many blisters I would get chopping wood, eat dinner with everyone, and then have a night to either relax or hang out in the common room with everyone. It was all at my fingertips. You would be surprised how much planning and thinking you can get done when you are sifting through milfoil for a couple hours. Alright, maybe that’s not so hard to understand, but it doesn’t make it any less valuable.
The skills I have learned here have transcended every possible thought I could have had on what I would learn. I feel like I can do anything. I’m unstoppable. Aside from the many instantly applicable skills, most importantly I’ve really learned what it is like to be a part of a work force. Not in the sense that having a job makes you a part of the work force, but the full integration of many people doing the same work as efficiently and best they can so that a seemingly impossible task becomes an everyday accomplishment. I can see the fruits of my efforts every single day, and I’m not the only one.

The people I see every day are Squam. That sounds strange, but it’s true. The natural beauty and serene waters are only as good as those you share them with. Whether it’s a quick hand wave to a fellow boater, or an intimate campfire with my best friends here (my coworkers), the energy I have felt has been nothing but positive. It’s inspiring to feel that you are in the right place, and as I get older I realize that it’s becoming harder and harder to feel as if I’m truly at home. Squam has opened its doors to me and accepted me as one of its own. I can only imagine that coming here this summer is what it must be like for a shelter animal to be brought into a house filled with every form of love that can be bestowed upon a simple animal. We are all animals. We all want to feel at home. I am so happy to have found another place aside from my little house in New York that I can call home. This has been the adventure of a lifetime.

Kyle is from Rochester, NY and is a Chemistry student at the State University of Oswego with a minor in Creative Writing. Read more about Kyle here.

August 7, 2015


If there’s one area of this internship in which I believe I’ve grown the most, it’s diving. It was definitely the aspect that I was most excited about, but it took me a while to get comfortable with it. At first, I was apprehensive to take my diving to greater depths, as I had difficulty equalizing pressure in my ears while descending. This began to worry me, as diving is one of the main tasks that we participate in throughout the summer, and I hoped to explore more areas after my time here on Squam. Fortunately, I got the hang of equalizing pressure after a couple more dives, and now the new areas to improve were my buoyancy and mobility in the water. Good thing for me, I had time to work on these as I would be diving multiple times a week for the next couple of months. Within the span of about a week or two, I no longer felt anxious or uncomfortable in the water as I did when I first started diving. It was great! My mind was at ease and I rather looked forward to future dive days.

Another thing I noticed that improved to great amounts was the amount of oxygen that I consumed during a dive. When I first started diving, I would nearly consume a full tank of air after being underwater for only an hour. That doesn’t really allow much time for someone to cover a large area during a dive. However, once I got used to controlling my buoyancy, I noticed that I was able to stay underwater for a much longer period of time. As of now, I have doubled my original diving time on a single air tank. Most of the time, I forget how long I’ve been underwater as time seems to breeze past very quickly when you’re moving around looking for milfoil.

Throughout the summer, I’ve come across some pretty awesome things while diving. One of my favorite diving spots on Squam would have to be Bennett Cove. In no other spot on the lake have I found such large schools of perch and bass, along with some of the largest pickerel I have ever seen. We came across a few smaller milfoil plants here and there around the cove, but the area was mostly cleared of it. What made me like the spot so much was the biodiversity of the environment. There were so many different plants and so many large, healthy fish within the cove. This really put into perspective how important it was to prevent the spread of milfoil in this area, since invasive milfoil has the potential to outcompete the native plants in that area, degrading the richness of the environment. 

Connor is from Iowa and is studying biology at St. John's University in Minnesota. Read more about Connor here.

July 30, 2015


The opportunity to band loons with the LPC was one the other interns and I could not pass up. We left SLA at 9:00 PM to go loon banding on one of the work boats, Calypso, and another smaller boat to go out and catch the loons in. The mission included tagging two adult loons and their two chicks. Going into it, I had no idea what to expect. I just figured it would probably be pretty hard to catch a loon. We arrived at Livermore cove and anchored Calypso, waiting in anticipation for it to be dark enough to begin the catch. Loons are smart birds, and if they see a boat coming up to them they’ll swim away, so, the strategy is to wait until it is dark enough so when we shine a very bright light in their direction they won’t be able to see what’s behind it.
Once it was dark enough five people headed out in the capture boat to fetch the first adult loon, while the rest of us stayed on Calypso trying to make out what was happening in the dark. Soon we saw the bright light skimming the surface of the water looking for the dark shadow of a loon, while fake loon calls were made to attract the loon. Quicker than expected, the light stopped moving, and I could see the glare of the loon’s eye’s reflecting with the light of the flashlight. Then the two sets of light moved closer and closer until there was only one. And then the second went out also. We knew it was a successful catch.
Once back on Calypso, EB volunteered to hold the loon while it was tagged. We all congregated around him trying to get the best view that we could, even though the loon's head was covered with a towel to keep it from seeing it’s surroundings and stressing it out more than it probably already was. I was surprised about how little movement the loon attempted, but that probably had something to do with the strong hug-like hold EB had around its body. The LPC's experienced loon banders worked as quickly as possible to put a green and silver band just above the loon’s foot, and to take a blood sample.  The stress the loon was undergoing was soon evident when the loon began compulsively squirting poop all over the boat.
Soon it was time to let the loon go. We set it down in by the edge of the boat facing the direction it had come from and let it go. It quickly swam away, flapping it’s wings, and calling to it’s family.
In the next round of capture, the other parent and it’s two babies were caught. We all took turns passing around the fuzzy little babies, and getting pooped on. We could hardly mind getting pooped on because getting the opportunity to hold baby loon was well worth it, and something I will never forget.

Disclaimer: Do not try this at home.

Sydney is from Plymouth, NH and attends St. Lawrence University where she is majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geology and Economics. Read more about Sydney here.

July 28, 2015​


Whether it be the reign of native plants, new loon chicks (see picture), clean water, SLA staff, or the simple beauty of our watershed, there is always something to celebrate here. Squam Lake heroes are all around us, even though we don’t necessarily recognize their presence all the time. Let’s talk about some of the unspoken champions of Squam Lake: the oh-so-luxurious composting toilets.
Flashback to the first time the intern crew camped out on Bowman Island. I had to use the bathroom at one point, which prompted Rebecca to direct me to a composting toilet located close to our campsite. I had stumbled upon what looked to be a rather odd supply closet of sorts. Sawdust in a metal garbage can? I mean, there’s a toilet in here but why is there a shovel as well?  Are you 100% sure this is a bathroom?! I figured I had entered the wrong place, but to my surprise, this actually was the bathroom. Sawdust and all. Composting toilets are rather quirky to say the least, and have become a facet of the SLA that I have learned to know and love (I use the term “love” loosely). I didn’t even know what a Clivus Multrum was before this internship and what I do know now is that I appreciate their existence on an astronomical level (nothing personal, bucket system).
The other day I had been so fortunately summoned to clean all of the composting toilets by myself on a relentlessly hot morning with winds that only the very agitated Zeus could have conjured. Emptying buckets full of human feces into composting bins while mosquitos gather around your sweat-covered forehead isn’t exactly the most glorious job out there, but it is a rather humbling experience. After 4 hours of misery, dedication, sweat, blood, and tears (okay, subtract the last two), I was feeling surprisingly fulfilled.  The use of composting toilets not only have an enormous positive impact on the watershed, but they also set a constructive example for other aspiring environmentalists to follow in our footsteps.  Even though the act of composting human waste makes me want to burn off my work clothes sometimes, I know that what I am doing is all worth it for our lake. If there’s anything I’ve learned as an intern, it’s the simple idea that sustainability is always something to celebrate. Rock on composting toilets; you are the subtle heroes of the Squam Lakes watershed.

Coral is a junior at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin where she majors in both environmental science and Spanish and minors in biology. Read more about Coral here.

July 24, 2015


This summer’s work as a conservation intern with the Squam Lakes Association has been filled with some of the most unique adventures and surprises I have experienced yet.  I have spent a few winters away from home, which for me is located a few hours south in suburban Walpole Massachusetts, but this season really has taken my breath away. My favorite part about the transition northward has always been the feelings of rejuvenation taking in the crisp fresh air and all the mountainous smells.  Now I am living blessedly in these conditions day and night, camping out, swimming, diving, hiking and more!  This lifestyle I’ve found myself taking on has gifted me many more captivating moments than I had ever dreamed of as a child. My last journal entry dates back over a month ago,  and so much has taken place here that’s it’s tough to put a finger on just one thing.
A special facet of my life this summer has been in the deepening of my relationship with nature.  It’s sometimes very easy to overlook and forget now and then, minding the way the world runs these days.  Bright lights, loud music and attractions whichever way I turn my head all merge into one grand distraction from natures calm.  Like night and day, these serene natural feelings of the mountain life quickly degenerate the more southern and city-bound I go.  The White Mountains are a spot to cherish, and this is steadily reinforced as I continue to meet enthused travelers here on the lake.  Many have lived in the same spot their whole life, perhaps the city, rural plains or hidden up in the mountains.  I’ve so far been privileged enough to visit a whole lot of these places along the eastern seaboard and a few foreign nations in the Americas.  At first I couldn’t understand or appreciate a culture or their relationship with nature; that mentality hadn’t quite yet developed for me.  Now as a young adult seeking to improve myself and to help others and the planet through my work, my eyes are much more open to these things.  Our nation is so greatly advanced to the point that we are separated from nature. This summer I’ve been thrown back into the woods and wish to stay forever.  I eat simple low impact camp food, pick up a lot of local veggies from the area, and help conserve Squam!
  Sleeping inside provides enough shelter and seclusion that one could doze through the entire day if they wanted.  Instead, rising with the sun and songbirds between 5-6 in the morning grants a much longer and more eventful day.  I’ve started paying much more attention to the weather- which way the wind blows and when it will, when the last rainfall was, where the sun shines predominantly and so on.  Out here as an intern our livelihood hinges on these things!  I’ve got to know the sunny spots that will offer the driest firewood after the rain, if I want a cheery evening and smoke to ward off bugs.  Around campfires I’ve graciously accepted marshmallow gifts and shared stories of my scouting experiences up here in New England.  Coincidentally, as a camping caretaker I’ve checked in families involved in scouting and encouraged them to keep participating.  I would accredit most of those experiences in helping myself along to get here on Squam Lake this summer.
On my Squam expeditions, whether by foot or boat, I am gifted with feathers everywhere I set foot!  Initially scooping up chicken feathers on enrichment field trips through class at Plymouth State, has evolved into a full blown collection of mine.  Geese, crows, blue jays, ducks, sparrows, dragonflies and even a loon have left me behind some of the finest natural souvenirs I could ask for.  They come from all parts of the bird too.  Down (belly) feathers and long primary feathers seem to drop the most. After rain the most turn up.  I speculate they are faulty ones and no longer serve the bird optimally, or its just shedding season  The wing is one of the most special innovations of nature, giving flight to a select few.  I like to waft incense smoke and make dreamcatchers with feathers.  They’re also good stock material for making fly lures when I get into that.
While walking the trails around Squam, catching a face-full of cobwebs is about as commonplace as pinecones dropping from overhead, so I brush them off.  On a few occasions when the skies have parted and arriving at the perfect time, I’ve been able to marvel at some Charlotte’s Web-worthy spinnings left behind by ambitious spiders.  Not your everyday find, so I take a second for appreciation.  On surveying dives where we scout out spots of secluded milfoil, I’ve swam alongside monster bass, happened upon gleaming mussels that just opened up and eerie clouds of lake algae.  There’s always something waiting out there on nature’s open frontier. Two worlds, land and lake, we explore as an intern family of eight.  A simple life we live in peace.

Dougie is from Walpole, Ma  and just graduated from Plymouth State University with a degree in Environmental Science. Learn more about Dougie here.

July 21, 2015


 This Sunday, I watched an inchworm crawl for what seemed like hours. I was bored; Obscenely bored. And it was great. Don’t get me wrong; I hated it in the moment. More than anything I wanted a squirrel to come try to make away with my food or a camper to need my assistance, but looking back on it, it was a wonderful experience of self-reflection. It’s an experience, I believe, too few of us have often enough in our 21st century reality. Bear with me.
The kind of boredom that I am talking about is a unique sort. I am, as I’m sure all of you are, fully aware of the sort of boredom that makes you want to forget your responsibilities, the kind that leads to sitting on the couch starring into space. I am talking about the sort of boredom that makes you want to do something, but you can’t think of something you haven’t already done. It’s an anomaly that I often have working here at Squam. I don’t mean to say I do not like it here, but often times our job is to sit and wait, to be ready in case something should happen. Of course, there are times of intense and constant work. I feel this when I’m tendering, sitting in the kayak watching over the divers, Lake Hosting, and, most recently, in the evenings on the islands.
On this particular Sunday, I had spent hours painting a cabin and cleaning composting toilets with Ryan, followed by making dinner for myself and checking in my campers for the night. All of these are engaging and, mostly fun, activities, especially meeting the campers, who are so often friendly. One group invited me to share dessert with them. It’s after all these chores are complete, after I’ve played all the songs I know on the guitar, and after I’ve stared at the heart of my fire until my eyes begin to dry, that the special sort of boredom kicks in.

On Sunday, I sat and looked at this little inchworm, and just thought about stuff. Too many things crossed my mind to explain here, but it ranged everywhere from my future of school and beyond, to why in the world an inchworm evolved to move like that. I am not doing justice to the significance of this mindset. All I can say is that it leaves you feeling more self assured and content. I highly recommend achieving this exceptional form of boredom in our contemporary world of constant distractions.

Julian is from New Jersey and is studying studying Organismal and Ecological Biology at Colorado College. Read more about Julian here.

July 15, 2015


My time here at the SLA is passing by swimmingly. There is honestly never a dull moment in my day; whether it be bundling wood for hours upon end, or having to do something that Brett explains as “fun” (which of course, usually isn’t), I somehow manage to enjoy myself unexpectedly. For example, as I am writing this journal atop a rock on Bowman Island, there is a seemingly malicious squirrel overhead, probably attempting to plan my funeral. Continually squawking at my existence, he never gets tired of looking me dead in the eye and hoping for the worst. Like a said, never a dull moment here!  From accidentally transforming my work gloves into an incredibly flammable accessory to forgetting that cheese in a cooler alone with no ice will not last an entire weekend, I am constantly making new, awesome experiences that I am both learning from and immediately storing in my hippocampus. One of my favorite memories so far has been one of the most eerie, yet compelling experiences involving a stare down with a massive fish.

There I was at the bottom of Squam Lake in typical scuba garb, completely defenseless, except for a considerably gigantic vacuum that we so lovingly call the DASH hose. If you have ever seen milfoil underwater, you would probably agree that it is one of the scariest lake plants to come upon. Not only is it an invasive species in Squam (BOOOOOO), but it is also looks absolutely terrifying at great heights. Milfoil knows your weaknesses concerning scary movies and it will undoubtedly set up the perfect scene to make you get the chills (not hard to do when you’re at the bottom of a lake). I was laying in field of insidious weeds plucking the tallest milfoil plants I had ever laid my eyes on, when I look over to peer upon a log floating midway in the water. After further exploration, I realized that the log was moving and had eyes. So not exactly your typical log, you know? Turns out it was actually an enormous fish, looking at me straight on. I immediately stopped pulling plants and was honestly slightly terrified that this aquatic creature, barely moving, was sizing me up. My mask was getting pretty foggy at this point, which made the scene a lot spookier than I could have ever anticipated. Soon enough the fish left my sight, which left me equally as horrified.

In that moment while staring into the eyes of a giant lake monster (slight exaggeration), although slightly frightened, I remembered why I was pulling milfoil. It’s for the fish. It’s for the ecosystem.  It’s for Mother Earth. Pulling this seemingly ordinary plant is what is preserving Squam Lakes to a degree that is worth getting dirty, wet, cold, tired, and even scared for. Whenever us interns receive the common “thank you for your work!” comment, we know our work is being appreciated.  It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re servicing not only the community and its inhabitants, but also a precious ecosystem that is being saved long before it even has the slightest chance of depleting.

Coral is a junior at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin where she majors in both environmental science and Spanish and minors in biology. Read more about Coral here.

July 10, 2015


With the summer flying by at an alarming pace, I find myself making an extra effort to slow it down any way I can. Within the menagerie of daily tasks, which have blended together in a wild sprint of routines, I have tried to consciously hold on to singular moments. Think of it like a mental snapshot, but not just of images, but of moods and sounds, even smells. They need not even be that special; a simple lull in our dive day, perhaps between getting out of the water and switching places with one of my fellow divers. I look around at the determined faces, who, just as I would if I had not made a game of it, continue to divulge in their work as the day crawls along. I know down the road, I will miss these moments, which happen so commonly and so discretely that I could easily let them pass by as I lived them. Oddly enough, I feel no impending sadness when these moments pass. The only emotions that hang heavy in my mind are affiliated with privilege, chiefly, how lucky I am to be experiencing this place with these people. Hidden bliss, you could say, has been the only thing I’ve been able to hold on to out of the little moments I have bookmarked. I wouldn’t have noticed how happy I was in the intermediate spaces, between the peaks of larger events, if I had not taken a breath to slow things down for just a minute. Catching a snapping turtle in Asquam marina, and following the emerging, tangerine moon with moth-like intention (while camping on Bowman last week) will be too easy to remember when I gaze back at this internship. I want to make the common moments stand out when I reminisce, because they are so quickly forgotten, and yet make up the majority of the time I am spending here. I can sleep easy knowing that I have threaded a few of those instances along when I look over my shoulder a couple years from now.
I am hoping this journal will help with my odd endeavors, if not by writing my memories down within it, then by being here to coax the moments out of my mind when I wish to retrieve them. Like the subtle satisfaction of finding new critters to add to the tanks in the great room, or the sly confidence of knowing that that one patch of milfoil won’t be growing back, because of how diligently the roots were stripped from the mud. I hope I will remember the silence as we all sit on the dive boat after hour six of being on the water, with the pangs of exhaustion seeping in through our wetsuits. More practically, I hope I remember all the handy-man things that Brett has taught me, as I will most likely need to know them at some point outside of Squam. It’s scary how much I have absorbed this summer, and without a textbook in my hands, it’s hard to document how many pages of things I have stuffed into my brain so far. I don’t know if I’ll ever be placed into a learning environment as lush as this one, where even the dullest of instances deserve to be remembered with all the others.

Ryan is from Williamstown, Massachusetts. He is currently pursuing a degree in biology from Bates College. Learn more about Ryan here.

July 6, 2015


As I sit in the cabin on this Fourth of July, I read through my personal journal and relive the last two weeks. I do this as a calm and steady rain hit the pine needles and birch trees, droplets trickling down onto the roof of the caretaker’s cabin.
The beginning of the first week was hectic, I recall as I flipped through the pages of my journal. My memories are scattered with feelings of anxiety, stress, and most importantly of triumph. I smile as I listen to the swimmers jumping into the lake and squirrels skittering in the leaves.
I read through the journal and remember driving Allie (the JSLA camp director) to Great Island with Brett. We were on a “rescue mission,” some of the JSLA kids were stuck and unsure of kayaking back to the SLA on a windy day. Brett had me drive us and anchor on the beach, I was extremely wary of this, as I had never had to drop anchor (heck, I hadn’t even passed my boat test at this point!) In the end, the kayakers made it, as we watched from a distance as guardians of the lake. The rest of the day passed semi-smoothly and left me with light emotional scarring.
As I scrape out last night’s dinner remnants (now reduced to charred chunks and savory bits of ash) out of the pan with an old campers list, I think about the last time I stayed on Moon Island and in the cabin: Sydney and I ran inside having just “escaped the storm.”
All day we were wet, from the moment we left our (dry) intern cottage we dealt with moisture several times. We loaded wood, freshly cut by Brett, onto the truck as the thunderstorm announced its booming approach. We unloaded and split wood in the ‘monsoon’, all morning and most of the afternoon we were delightfully miserable; especially when the dive crew came back five hours early and were sent inside to do homework. We shared our drenched distaste for the downpour and trudged through the sodden ground. The skies cleared around lunch, and we were finally sent to do homework as the sun peeked its bright little nose out from the gray cumulonimbi. Since we were on camping duty, guardians of the islands, we packed our packs and took the lil’ whaler out on the lake.
As we arrived at Heron Cove, we were told by an alarmed pair of campers to get out of there, as the storm was approaching (again). No sooner did we turn around and turn on our phones, did we receive messages to get on land and stay on land. We docked at Wister 1, just as thunder boomed and the sky was illuminated. We spend the better part of an hour huddled in the toilet, grateful that it was the CLIVUS on Wister rather than the toilet on Bowman.
My reminiscing is gratefully disturbed by Ryan Mahar’s voice, letting me know that he has delivered wood bundles to the island. I smile now at the currently shining sun, and the feeling of ‘dry’ as I prepare my dinner of scrambled eggs and veggies, and prepare to spend the rest of this Independence Day on Moon Island. 

Gabie is a student at Texas A&M University pursuing two degrees: Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Ecological Restoration. Read more about Gabie here.

July 2, 2015


When I was first assigned to camp on Bowman Island for a weekend, I thought I would have plenty of time to relax and catch up on some of the books I’ve brought with me for the summer; maybe draw pictures of some red squirrels too. In my mind, it was a good opportunity to get away from all the raucous of the other interns (love you guys). Then, I was given my sheet of the list of chores that I had to do over the weekend, and I saw that I was supposed to rake and clear all of the trails on the island. FUUNNNNN!!! The opportunity to hang back and relax was now out the window; it looked like I was going to get some nice blister souvenirs from my weekend of camping. However, I wasn’t too bothered by receiving this task, as I’m no stranger to busy work. I’ve spent plenty of summers working as a custodian, so I was able to prepare myself for a weekend of trail maintenance. Aside from the work that I was supposed to do, there are other considerations one should make when preparing to spend a weekend outdoors. One of those things is the amount and variety of food to last for a weekend. Prior to my camping trip, I went to the grocery store and picked up two massive steaks thinking, “This ought to do the trick”. What I didn’t realize until I got out there was that I could actually get tired of eating steak. See, this didn’t occur to me before because steak is awesome and I like it. However, once you eat steak for dinner one night, then for breakfast the next morning, and for lunch in the afternoon, only to follow it up with another steak dinner and an entire other day of the same meal schedule, the taste kind of gets old. I may be over exaggerating a bit, as there was one meal in which I ate mac n cheese, but even that had some steak thrown in with it because protein…right? This may have contributed to something I refer to as “Island Madness”, as there was one point during my weekend in which I wrote a short story about red squirrels planning to amass an all-out attack on a giant in the forest (me) because I tore up one of my squirrel pictures to use it as fire kindling. That story may be continued on another weekend if I encounter Island Madness again.
If there’s one lesson I learned through my first camping weekend, it’s that camping stoves should not be underestimated, or should at least be operated by someone else not currently experiencing Island Madness. So, on the one occasion in which I made mac n cheese, I needed to boil up some water with the help of a cooking fire. I went through the regular procedure of hooking up the pump into the fuel canister and began to pump to build up pressure, when I connected the fuel to the stove mechanism, I didn’t realize that the pump was already turned on and leaking fuel into the stove. When I lit the fuel under the stove, I thought, “That’s a lot of fire; I should turn that down”. However, I didn’t turn the knob the correct way, and my action only led to the fire spreading towards the fuel tank. Whoooooooooooooops. So at this point, I thought to remove the tank so that I wouldn’t have a bomb on my campsite. When I relieved the pressure on the tank, the fire was already there and I couldn’t really do much else about it because fire is hot or whatever. Now I was in an interesting position because I was just looking at a fire coming out of a fuel tank with no way to stop it. So I decided to try to snuff the fire out by covering it with dirt. This worked to at least contain it, but by this point the fire had already destroyed the pump mechanism and I’d have to wait a little longer to eat my mac n cheese. The fire eventually extinguished. These actions led me to believe that my stove was sabotaged by one of either two parties: the meat gods, angry at me for eating anything other than steak, or the squirrels..

Connor is from Iowa, and is studying biology at Saint John's University in Minnesota. Learn more about Connor here.

July 1, 2015​​


This past weekend I spent my first weekend camping on Moon Island. The scheduled campers for the weekend, head out Friday afternoon packed for the weekend with a list of duties to accomplish before returning Monday morning. Prepared to spend the majority of my time alone with not much to do, I packed my hammock, multiple books, a pen and some paper. However, I didn’t find myself becoming bored at all. Instead, I filled most of my time doing my chores, and catching up on sleep.
One of the tasks for the weekend was raising all the docks. Due to the amount of rain in the past week and the rain that came while I was out camping the docks were almost underwater and were getting hit with waves, adding wear and tear. It was windy, cloudy, and cold when Julian, who was camping on Bowman Island, and I went out to raise the docks. Due to the weather neither of us wanted to get into the water to lift the docks, therefore leaving us with no other option than to use the chains. The chains, as we refer to them, are odd contraptions that hook to the top of a dock post with a chain that loops around beneath the hinge between the dock and a post. If one were come across one without any context they’d have no idea what to use it for, not to mention you’d also have grease all over your hands. Once this at first complicated system is set up on a dock post, there is a crank at the top that is spun it until slowly the dock is lifted up. Sometimes this can get pretty difficult, requiring lots of muscle power. The first dock at Moon wasn’t too hard, but the Bowman docks were a different story.
We arrived at Bowman Island after Calypso, the large pontoon boat us interns drive around, notoriously stalled out three times in the short distance over to Bowman Island, which was stressful regarding the weather conditions. One of the Bowman docks was getting hit hard with waves that splashed over the top of the dock. Julian and I each chose a post and started to crank them up, and then moved to the next two, when one of the ones we’d just pulled up fell back down. We continued with the next two posts anyways, until the other one we’d first pulled up also fell with a thud. We realized that as we raise the dock on posts it changes the angle that the dock is lined up with other posts which means the bolt is looser so the dock falls back down.
Finally we’d made it to the last set of poles on the dock, but as soon as I stepped toward the end of the dock, it fell down, but not just the usual couple of inches. I was now had water up to my ankles, while still standing on the dock. I looked at Julian, who’d turned to see which post had fallen this time when he heard the noise, and we laughed. We admitted that even though this was frustrating it was also hilarious.
Once all the posts of the dock were raised at the same time, we jumped on Calypso and left as quickly as possible, afraid a post would collapse on us again. As we drove away we admired our hard work and the fact that the waves no longer splashed over the dock, or even hit the bottom of the dock. We joked that the whole thing would collapse and that if it did we look away and pretend we didn’t see it happen, but as far as I know the dock is still standing, above the waves.

Sydney is from Plymouth, NH and attends St. Lawrence University where she is majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geology and Economics. Read more about Sydney here.

June 26, 2015


I wasn’t sure what to expect for my first night camping alone. The closest thing to camping alone I’ve done is getting a single dorm room at college. That’s basically one step past sleeping in your own room at home. This was different. I had to prepare everything ahead of time to make sure that everything was going to go smoothly. I needed food, water, shelter. The necessities of life. Granted, my food was mac and cheese, my water was encased in a giant five gallon jug, and my shelter was a huge four person tent I was going to be able to stretch out in. Still, that’s rustic for me. I've spent most of my life around electronics, so when I have to clean dishes with lake water I’m out of my element.
It started with a calm boat ride out to Moon and Chamberlain Reynolds Memorial Forest to check campers in and check the sites to make sure there was nobody squatting about. After spending an entire year going door-to-door canvassing to ban fracking in New York, walking up to people about to have a great getaway was a piece of cake. Everyone was easy to talk to and had a bunch of little interesting stories. Outdoors people. I think that even if it’s your first time camping there’s a subtle bond that’s felt. It’s the kind of human connection that should be present all the time, but gets drowned out in the hustle of day to day affairs. The outdoors takes hold of you and places you on the ground.
As I made my way to my campsite deciding if I should add chicken to my mac and cheese in order to make it a little more exciting, I thought about what it would be like to be one of the first pioneers to discover this place. No mac and cheese or chicken, that’s for sure. Well maybe a chicken. I don’t really know. Either way, it was humbling knowing that despite having a slight contempt for what we as humans can do to this world, we are in a unique position where we can enjoy our surroundings at a level that transcends every other creature on Earth. We can create peace of mind. That’s an absolutely incredible thing. It’s something that is sought by everyone and we all have the potential to reach it, but it’s our environment and our life at a moment that determines if this peace will come over you. Camping alone was strange, but I found that peace of mind. I slept like a baby.

Kyle is from Rochester, NY and is a Chemistry student at the State University of Oswego with a minor in Creative Writing. Read more about Kyle here.

June 24, 2015


The divers always get all the attention. This entry is going to be about the men and women that support them from above the surface. Yesterday I worked all day as part of the support crew. I was hoping that it would be a nice break. The weather was sunny and warm with a nice breeze. I soon learned that being on the support crew is not a break.
 For the first two hours, Coral and I worked tirelessly on the boat to keep the massive amounts milfoil from flooding the DASH table. The divers pulled almost eighty gallons. Not only do all the plants need to be spread out and dried before being piled into bins, all the dirt that comes up the suction tubes clogs the mesh table, which leads to massive flooding and chaos. So we constantly brushed the table and I got my first blister of the internship, not from maintaining trails or splitting firewood but from scrubbing milfoil. Although Coral and I were  within inches of each other, working the DASH table is ironically solitary work. The motor is loud and there is little to no communication required. While working, I was lulled into a focused and frantic, but also calm mindset as I worked out the most efficient way to keep the table clean. In our brief moments of calm, Coral and I joked that we never would have been able to keep the table under control individually. By the way, normally there is only one person working on the boat, so that should be interesting.
The other support job, and the most important is the kayaker. As you might expect, the kayaker is not on Millie, our motorboat devoted to pulling milfoil, but on a miniscule kayak. Armed with a small net and bag, the kayaker collects broken fragments of milfoil that would, if left to float, flow downstream and become a new plant, potentially creating a new infestation. The kayaker also keeps an eye on the divers to make sure that they are safe and comfortable. The last job of the kayaker is the frustrating and impossible task of untangling the four hoses in the water. Hopefully we will limit the tangling as the summer goes on, but right now the two air hoses and two suction hoses get amazingly tangled in the water. The job is made more difficult by basic physics. Since we are in the water, there is nothing to brace ourselves against, and whenever you pull or push a hose, the kayak moves more than the hose.  

Diving is fun too.

Julian is from New Jersey and is studying studying Organismal and Ecological Biology at Colorado College. Read more about Julian here.

June 22, 2015


Living on Squam in the early tides of the summer has been much like re-reading an old, familiar book; all the nooks and crannies of the lake and the surrounding towns are well ingrained within my memory. And yet, I find myself pleasantly surprised by subtle details that I had not discerned upon my initial perspective as an oblivious young child. Of course, this is a product of my perspective, then as a vacationer and pseudo-tourist, and now as a caretaker. For me, the past month has been all about that word: perspective. Even in its most literal definition, my view of the lake has changed from my cottage in Moultonborough Bay to the lily-speckled inlet of Piper Cove. But the most dynamic change, and by far the most evident in my eyes at least, is the feeling of responsibility that I have adopted since my employment at the Squam Lakes Association. The lake means that much more to me now that I am investing my own time and energy into protecting it, and old “Golden Pond” awards all my hard work just as it always has. Just this morning, after running around to check in campers the previous day, I was woken up by the clamorous bickering of red squirrels. When I got up to shoo them off, I was confronted by what looked like a screensaver photo on my computer. The sun was rising over Red Hill, and all the rain clouds that had settled in over the hemlocks during the night were beginning to lift away. The effect was a hypnotic blend of refracted light and looming pines, with the shadows of mountains outlining the horizon to the North. And then there was me, standing open-mouthed on a large hunk of granite, with severe bed-head and partial blindness thanks to the luster of the morning sun.
I wish I could have shared that view with my fellow interns, as this is the first week we have spent apart. With the advent of our new schedule, we have spent less and less time together as a united front and more time by ourselves as independent stewards of the lake. My first night camping alone was absolutely perfect, aside from some light rainfall. All the campers that I had the pleasure of checking in were wonderfully grateful for the work we are doing, especially the upkeep of the composting toilets. And after all my nightly duties were finished, I got to partake in perhaps my favorite part of working on Squam; the opportunity to fish.
By some miracle, I have been placed within this amazing group of people, from the ones I live with in our little apartment, to the ones that supervise us. This lake is now my office, my playground, my home, and my escape. That’s the best perspective I could ask for.

Ryan is from Williamstown, Massachusetts. He is currently pursuing a degree in biology from Bates College. Learn more about Ryan here.

June 17, 2015


Time is strange on Squam. It speeds up and slows down simultaneously.

I find it hard to believe that we have been here for a month. One third of the internship is over.  I feel as if I just arrived, yet as if I have known my fellow interns for much longer. This work doesn’t seem like work, it seems like a vacation where we occasionally have to do “stuff”. Stuff like hike, go out to the islands and check on campers, and most importantly, battling milfoil. I think the hardest part of this “job” is trying to close the dive shed and keeping plenty of bagels and avocados in the intern house. Over the past month, we have probably eaten more bagels than the rest of Holderness combined, and we avocadon’t feel crummy about it at all.  Everything we learn, everything we do is worthwhile, and even the crappy jobs are kind of fun (and very important).

Adaptability runs this internship, whether it’s conceiving tales of Italian sea captains, assuming awkward bodily contortions in order to keep the DASH (Diver Assisted Suction Harvester) hose in check, using disposable cups as makeshift funnels, or “whooping” across the property to communicate with the rest of the SLA.

There have been many firsts for us, the interns, here on Squam: first time driving a boat, first time scuba-diving, first time keeping track of a catfish and her eggs, and first time looking up at a forest of milfoil. I have learned so much and will continue to learn from our mentors Rebecca, Brett, and Caroline.

We have two months left here, but I know that we will never truly leave Squam. A part of us will always remember Piper Cove and the islands. I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer, but I am dreading the day I have to say “good-bye”.

Gabie is a student at Texas A&M University pursuing two degrees: Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Ecological Restoration. Read more about Gabie here.

June 15, 2015


We have been living and working on Squam for over three weeks, but it feels like a year. Together we have accomplished so much, from earning our scuba diving certification to building an incredibly strong community. A fly on our wall would see a group of productive, driven, and incredibly jovial people who, I believe, have already become life long friends. I was made distinctly aware of the strength of our little community by the addition of the JSLA staff earlier this week. Seeing them arrive, having no prior connections or shared experiences, reminded me of those days when we were first living together, which feel so long ago. We awkwardly played as many board games and card games as we could think of until we truly became familiar with each other, and now we have as much fun together as any group I have been a part of.

Our period of training is almost over, and we have been hard at work refining our boat driving skills and learning to pull insidious milfoil properly while underwater. Today, I went to the river that drains Little Squam with Sydney, Ryan, Dougie, Caroline, and Rebecca and learned to pull milfoil with a DASH (Diver Assisted Suction Harvester) system. It was surreal. Not only are we breathing underwater, we are breathing an unlimited amount of air from the surface. Two at a time, in full wetsuit gear, we pulled twenty gallons of invasive, harmful, insidious milfoil. It is an experience like no other. For the first few minutes, I struggled with my buoyancy, floating up and down with no control, but soon I settled into this new aquatic environment. Straddling our suction pipes, we descended upon a seemingly endless forest of slowly waving, milfoil plants. For hours, we laid on the river bottom, picking milfoil one plant at a time. After a few minutes, visibility is zero, and the only thing you are aware of is the stem of the milfoil plant and the not-so-gentle suction of the pipe.

I have been in the water for one day, and today, while in the shower, I felt the milfoil swaying around me. My father once told me that living out in the wilderness can lead to detailed, almost mythological dreams. I cannot wait to see what the self reflective Zen of milfoil harvesting will result in.

Julian is from New Jersey and is studying studying Organismal and Ecological Biology at Colorado College. Read more about Julian here.

June 9, 2015


Life here at Squam is nothing less than absolutely incredible. I had never visited New Hampshire before and I have to admit that I thoroughly pleased. These past 3 weeks have been filled with many adventures, great new friends, a lot of nature, and some of the most memorable learning experiences I have ever had. We wear "staff" shirts on a daily basis, but I don't even feel like this is work. I have only known the other interns, Squam Lake, and all of the awesome employees for a short amount of time, but I already feel like this is my home away from home.

Let's take things back to one of my first days on the "job". There wasn't a single grey cloud in the sky when I was pulled aside by Brett and was told nothing more than to put on a raincoat. Caroline had dropped Brett and me off at the post office and I did not have a clue what to expect. We got out of the car and to my surprise, Brett passed up the post office and in the distance, i could see a small boat on the shoreline. Some nervous laughter poured out once I realized what was about to occur; Brett was going to make me drive the boat back all the way to Squam. Despite my feeble efforts to avoid this potential disaster, Brett taught me how to drive a boat. From showing me how to lift up the motor manually when I honestly thought I was way too weak to do so, to making me dock and re-dock the boat an embarrassing amount of times, I learned so much during Brett's very hands-off learning approach.

Instead of giving me all the answers, Brett made me figure things out for myself, which helps you become not only a better boater, but a better learner as well. Sometimes us interns moan and groan about having to do things ourselves, but it is honestly the best way to acquire a skill. I am learning new things every day and I cannot thank the SLA more for giving their interns a chance to have a summer filled with opportunities. From what I have heard from past interns and what I have already experienced here at Squam, I can already tell that this is going to be one of the best summers of my life.

Coral is a junior at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin where she majors in both environmental science and Spanish and minors in biology. Read more about Coral here.

June 5, 2015


I’ve now been at Squam Lake for just over two weeks. So far the other interns and I have acquired our open water diver licenses, weed diver certification, and commercial boating licenses, along with a plethora of other information regarding our various jobs, such as cleaning the composting toilets on at the island campsites that SLA maintains. I keep waiting for this job to feel like work, yet all of our time spent on Squam has been enjoyable. The other interns and I have quickly evolved into great friends as we bond over our new experiences and there hasn’t been a day when we haven’t ended up all laughing together. I couldn’t imagine a better way to explore, and learn about the beautiful area of Squam Lake than by camping on the islands, hiking the surrounding mountains for a spectacular view of the landscape, or scuba diving along the bottom of the lake.

Scuba diving is something I’ve considered doing yet I couldn’t have imagined a better circumstance to get the opportunity to obtain my open water diver license. This past weekend the other interns and I completed our four certification dives in lake Winnipesaukee, and today we received training to effectively remove variable milfoil from the bottom of the lake. In the photo I’m making the “diver okay” signal. This is how divers let their “buddies” know they are all right while underwater. Not only am I getting lots of scuba diving experience but I also get to help protect the health of Squam Lake by removing this invasive species, which is extremely rewarding and fun.

I love being immersed in my life on Squam, and end each day falling asleep in our cozy intern cottage, worn out from the days tasks, listening to the chorus of frogs and loons, while thinking about the accomplishments of the day. I know by the end of the summer I will leave feeling proud of the work I did for SLA to help protect the surrounding ecosystem, along with many great memories and friends.

Sydney is from Plymouth, NH and attends St. Lawrence University where she is majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geology and Economics. Read more about Sydney here.

June 2, 2015


Squam. What a place. The first time I had ever been to New Hampshire I was on my way to Maine for a ski trip with my friends. We called it ‘shackville’ because every single house had a shack (not because people lived in shacks). It was just a state you had to drive through to get to Maine. It was almost like I thought of New Hampshire as an inconvenience filled with snow and way too many trees. This was only about three years ago and I held that first impression until I finally got around to coming up here. Dear lord was that a horrible preconceived idea. It’s gorgeous up here. Rolling hills, valleys, and mountains. Beautiful.

When reading the description for the internship online it sounded fun and I thought, “Hey worst case scenario I will get a ton of experience with a bunch of new things.” I wasn’t wrong. I think that’s exactly what I’m going to get, but life here is not even beginning to approach a worst case scenario. They said that we wouldn’t get paid but I feel like I’m stealing from the Association. I have free living, free food, lake front property, boats, kayaks, scuba equipment, camp sites and more. Plus, we’re still in training so our whole group of eight is able to do everything together and it’s a great way to make this place really feel like home. Also, I didn’t expect to be studying so soon after school, but it’s good knowledge to have and it makes a good bonding experience for everyone. Then there’s the work. Of course there will be hard work; there already has been. I’m not worried about coming home after diving for a full day completely exhausted and going right to sleep. In fact I’m sure I will come to love it. The feeling of working hard for a week straight on something that’s as important as conservation is just what I want.

It’s such a harsh cliché to say something along those lines, but it’s true. I think that we all have ideas and expectations on how things are supposed to go, how we are supposed to be growing, what is happening next in our lives and that’s all right. However, I think it clouds reality a little every time we do that and sometimes we can get stuck in a schedule where that’s all we are doing or thinking about. Your vision of life and yourself gets warped and foggy the more you analyze it. Squam is the antithesis to this fogginess. Squam through some miracle, whether it’s the miles of fresh water or absolutely stunning lake fronts, has avoided this sort of rigid mold that sets people’s focus only on the future. Squam is my personal definition of present. Learning how to cut wood and put a dock together isn’t for the future. Sure, it’s a skill I can use in the future, but that dock has to be built now because it’s going to become a piece of the life of Squam.

This is a sort of regurgitation of some quick thoughts and feelings about how my time has been so far, but this internship is quickly becoming one of the most important things I’ve done. I’ve only been here a few weeks and it’s doing something to me. I’m not sure what and so far it’s pretty subtle, but Squam is doing some Squammy thing that I’m sure it’s done to thousands of people before me, and I couldn’t be any happier.

Kyle is from Rochester, NY and is a Chemistry student at the State University of Oswego with a minor in Creative Writing. Read more about Kyle here.

May 28, 2015


Our time here out on Squam Lake has been a bit of a work-cation, I’d say. Things are heating up (literally) as we enter into our third scuba lesson tomorrow, with the certification dives on the radar for this weekend. Same goes for the commercial boating test on Saturday. More responsibility is loading onto the shoulders of us interns as we pick up on new skills and procedural protocol to follow out on the job. There’s a ton out there and a lot of it matters. All the care given and attention paid to the lake and trails reflects back visibly in the degree of enjoyment reached. This is just one of the huge reasons to walk out of the cabin everyday ready to take on a new challenge and learn a new trick or two.

I would like to add that my first few times out were truly adventurous and threw me onto the learning curve in the blink of an eye. Packing my bag haphazardly for our group campout on Bowman Island was a big mistake that ended up with me drying my cotton pants by the fire for quite some time! They got soaked after a couple of choppy splashes reached the inside of our boat on the way over. It was cold that night, and they dried before nightfall thankfully. We all fared well, and since then I have not gone out without thinking twice about where we’re going and what we’ll be up to.

I’m also feeling all this hot weather is doing a great job of bringing the lake temperatures up for us, and the weeds. The birds have been loving it too, and many come out to the water’s edge when the clouds part and the sunlight hits fully, just as we’re getting ready to take off and bring supplies out to the camping islands. It’s a bit of an entertaining spot watching hawks dive in only to be warded off by protective nesters, and an occasional standoff between local catfish and wandering bass below the dock. It’s only May, and if you haven’t got all you’re summer outings booked yet get up to Squam Lake, or else you’re missing out bigtime! You’ll surely see us interns somewhere between the boat launch and all this crystal clear water. This entry represents only a fraction of what’s going on up here, keep an eye out for the next one!

Dougie is from Walpole, Ma  and just graduated from Plymouth State University with a degree in Environmental Science. Learn more about Dougie here.

May 26, 2015


So far, I've spent about a week out at Squam Lakes, and I've loved every minute of it. This is actually my first time I've been in the New England area, and I'm seriously considering staying out here after the summer ends (no offense, Iowa). I arrived at Squam Lakes in the evening, and the first thing I noticed was the constant croaking of all the frogs in the area. The sound was almost deafening, but it's so awesome to experience at the same time. I also realized that I don't need an alarm clock, as the birds in the area will start calling at dawn, which is pretty convenient as I'm usually too lazy to set an alarm anyway. This also put in perspective how rich and variant the surrounding wildlife is, which is something I'll quite enjoy during my time out here. It's always a good sign when you want to spend most of your time experiencing the outdoors rather than bumming around inside. I love the lake environment, and I hope I can use as much time as possible to explore the area.  I've also been trying to take advantage of how close we are to the mountains, which is something I'm not used to. On Sunday, a group of us hiked Mt. Moosilauke, thoroughly exhausting us for this week, but it was an amazing and rewarding experience nonetheless. By the way things have started out, I can already tell that I'm going to remember this summer for the rest of my life.

Connor is from Iowa, and is studying biology at Saint John's University in Minnesota. Learn more about Connor here.

2015 Intern Bios


My name is Connor Piechota. I'm originally from Sioux City, Iowa, and studied at Saint John's University in Minnesota. While at Saint John's, I studied biology, focusing on behavioral ecology and conservation biology. During the summer of 2014, I went on a study abroad program through Saint John's to the Amazon rain forest and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. In my time spent abroad, I was able to accomplish many amazing goals, such as communicating with a primate relative (the woolly monkey) in the rain forest, snorkeling with sea lions and sharks, and treading the same ground and witnessing the same wildlife that Darwin had observed. In my time spent away from schooling, I enjoy walking through the various forest trails at Saint John's and playing rugby with my friends. I'm very excited to be a part of the Squam Lakes Association this summer and I look forward to helping out in whichever way I can.




My name is Coral (yes, like a reef) and I could not be more excited to intern with Squam Lakes Association! I am a junior who attends Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I major in both environmental science and Spanish and I minor in biology. I am involved in a coed service/social fraternity on campus, as well as CURE, a club that works towards maintaining
an Earth-friendly campus. My absolute dream is to earn my master's degree in marine biology and devote my life to environmental conservation.  My hometown is Oak Forest, Illinois, which is very appropriately named. When I'm not drowning in schoolwork, you can probably find me near to a fridge or more often than not, outside enjoying nature.  I am heavily involved in longboarding and I also participate in biking, camping, eating Wisconsin cheese, and exploring the vast coastal campus that is Carthage College. I have never visited New Hampshire, but I am already in love with Squam Lakes and I am more than ready to take on this new adventure!


I'm Dougie and I'm psyched to be working with the SLA this summer.  In a few weeks I'll be graduating from Plymouth State University with an Environmental Science degree and certificates in GIS, Permaculture and a WFR license. I will also join Pi Gamma Mui's honor society before graduation.  I know making the most of every moment from dawn to dusk this summer is all I really have in my sights. I'm looking to learn as much as possible about all that's going on out on the lake & in the woods to better help myself in making observations, inferences and understanding ecology.PDC (permaculture design certificate) trip to Belize over spring break was hands down the most adventurous week I've ever spent away from home, and helped me refine the vision I have in life.  I think it would be perfect to one day  combine all of these skills and work on building habitat, restoring de-forested areas and healing the land that was been ripped apart by cattle, logging, fracking, mining, and so on.  Ideally, down throughout the equatorial regions, or up here in the states.  I am also a Level 1 Reiki practitioner and want to eventually spread the practice and teachings across the world should I get the chance to do so.didgeridoo and bongo set I like to play and a puppy named Spice I see when my family comes up to visit.  We are from Walpole Massachusetts.



I am a student at Texas A&M University. I'm pursuing 2 degrees: Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Ecological Restoration. I love learning about the outdoors, something I was not really into when I was growing up. I like turtles....a lot (and other herps too). I also like terrible puns, a bit too much, sometimes it's like a punishment. I like photography, but I'm not too great at it. I love love love to cook/bake. I procrastibake a lot. I practice judo and I love to read.



I grew up in Lambertville, New Jersey, and have enjoyed the great outdoors since I was very young. I attended many summer camps, and even took a semester off during high school to do a semester expedition program with Kroka Expeditions (based in Marlow, NH). Currently I am studying Organismal and Ecological Biology at Colorado College, and have been lucky enough to experience many natural wonders of the West on my weekends. In the future, I would like to become a research biologist, and engage in scientific research that will deepen our understanding of ecological systems, and ultimately help limit the effects of climate change. I also love the guitar, skiing, soccer, and rock climbing.





My name is Kyle Salmons. I'm a Chemistry student at the State University of Oswego with a minor in Creative Writing. I am from Rochester, New York, home of the 'garbage plate'. It tastes much better than it sounds, but it's also about as good for you as it sounds. I love any and all sports and I am an avid reader and video game player. When I'm not doing any of these I am probably just listening to music or thinking about the next time I'm going to eat. I also think I say the best puns in the world. They are not. You are warned in advance.






Hello! My name is Ryan Mahar, and I'm from Williamstown, Massachusetts. I attended Mount Greylock Regional High school and graduated in 2012, moving on to the Holderness School as a post graduate the following year. I am currently a sophomore at Bates College in Maine. As a biology major, I am more interested in ecology and evolution as opposed to molecular biology. My dream is to work as a wildlife biologist once I get out into the real world, and I think this internship will be a great first step in terms of breaking into the field. I am a huge soccer fan, and try to play as much as possible. I was fortunate enough to grow up spending my summers on Squam Lake and attending an array of outdoor camps and activities around it. The Squam Lakes Natural Science Center used to be an area of particular interest to me, and helped to foster my passion for wildlife at a young age. Having participated in many SLA programs over the many summers I have spent in this area, I cannot wait to start this internship and spend a full summer on arguably the most beautiful lake in the country.




My name is Sydney Kahl, and I am a rising sophomore at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York where I am majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geology and Economics. On campus, I am a part of the rowing team, outing and photography clubs, and the Environmental Action Organization. I am from Plymouth, New Hampshire where I have taken advantage of the outdoor recreation opportunities in the White Mountains. I enjoy Nordic and alpine skiing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and nature photography. Other hobbies of mine include traveling and journalism. My most recent international trip was to Kirov, Russia for seven weeks, on a US State Department Scholarship. I publish articles about my experiences in my travel column in the local Record Enterprise newspaper called, “Travels With Sydney” and on a blog called wanderingeducators.com.  In the fall I will be part of the St. Lawrence University Adirondack Semester where I will be living in an off-the grid yurt community to focus on natural history, land use change, and modern day outdoor recreational ethics of the Adirondack Mountains. My love for lakes developed during my childhood summers spent on a small pond in Maine where I explored the surrounding ecology. As I witnessed threats to the lake I recognized the need to become a steward of all watersheds, including Squam.

May 5, 2015

Caroline, Intern Manager

I can’t believe that it’s been nearly a year since I first set foot at the SLA. After the fantastic experience that I had last summer, I could not be happier to be returning as this year’s Conservation Intern Manager. Although I know I’ll miss the interns that I shared my first summer at Squam with, I am so excited to meet the next class of interns and to help them become acquainted with this beautiful region. They may not know it yet, but they are about to have one of the best summers of their lives, full of new people, new places, new challenges, and exciting experiences. I can’t wait to get back to the SLA and to help this year’s team continue to preserve the integrity of this beautiful lake.

Caroline was an intern in 2014, and she now returns to the SLA as our 2015 Conservation Intern Manager. She is from Manchester, NH, and has just finished her degree in Environmental Studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.