Conservation Journal Adel and Haley

The Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) is an AmeriCorps service program that develops skills and experiences for conservation professionals. LRCC members are the driving force behind the Squam Lakes Association’s conservation efforts. 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. Click here to learn more about the LRCC program.

July 25, Adel Barnes (Squam Lakes Association)

This month I’ve been reading a book about coincidences. I mean, the book’s about quite a bit more than that, but the occurrence of coincidences is one of its major themes. The general idea is that our lives are constantly shaped by miniscule, chance events. We usually don’t pay them much mind, yet when one of these events happens to coincide in time with another, seemingly related event, it’s easy to interpret a greater meaning. In some extraordinary cases, coincidences can make one feel like an occurrence was fated to be.

Ever since moving to Holderness this last November, I’ve noticed that strange coincidences seem to be commonplace in the Squam Lakes region. There was that time when one of the winter AmeriCorps members and I both happened to buy the exact same slinky, from completely different stores, for the SLA’s White Elephant holiday party. Or how, without fail, “These Eyes” by The Guess Who came on the radio literally every time Alex and I drove to plow the Brooks Fisher Trailhead—the first time it happened we were so into scream-singing the song (“These eyes have seen a lot of loves but they’re never gonna see another one like I had with youuuuu!!”) that we soared right past the trailhead.

Since I’ve started reading this book, however, the frequency of these coincidences has kicked into overdrive. Last Wednesday, for example, our milfoil-removal dive team had the pleasure of being joined by a guest crewmember in the form of a ten-month-old mastiff named Cruiser. As we dove in (the aptly named) Dog Cove, Cruiser sat on the bank as close as he could get without his paws getting wet, and studiously observed our diver’s every move. John, who was playing the role of spotter, drifted his kayak over to me while I watched the diver from our boat, and said, “When I first saw that dog, I thought he was a deer.” Before the word “deer” had even been released into the air, just behind John’s head I saw a long, brown snout timidly peak out from behind a bush on the water’s edge. Redirecting John’s attention, we both watched as, inch by inch, the snout was revealed to be attached to the head and body of a small, white-tailed doe. After taking careful stock of her surroundings, the doe waded into the lake until all we could see was the top of her head and the rounded points of her ears, like the twin dorsal fins of two unusually hairy sharks. As we watched her swim from one side of the cove to the other, and eventually disappear into the brush on the opposite bank, it was astonishing to reflect on how our very first aquatic deer spotting just happened to occur at the exact moment that John said he thought he had seen a deer.   

And, just to prove that I’m not imagining all of these coincidences, here’s a quick list of a few of the other less awe-inspiring ones:

My roommate Danielle’s knife slipped while she was slicing a pepper and she cut the tip of her thumb. To distract her from the pain, I picked up the book I was reading (the same one I mentioned earlier) and began to read to her from the chapter I was just about to start: “the sculptor made an instinctive grab for the finger he had nearly chopped off one day while whittling away at a wood statue. It was a miracle the finger had been saved.” She didn’t find the coincidence as entertaining as I did.   

A few days later, Danielle showed me one of her favorite quotes written by an obscure science fiction author. That same author’s Wikipedia page just so happened to be the first tab currently open on my computer.

And, strangest of all, around four to five unrelated (as far as I know) strangers have talked to me about Weird Al within the last week. Maybe he had a concert in the area? Or I maybe I just give off “Weird Al fan” vibes.   

So, before you write me off as some sort of coincidence-obsessed conspiracy theorist, I want to explain why I’m so fixated on coincidences at the moment. As my time with the SLA comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on all of the chance events that led me to spend a year of my life in Holderness, NH. This has been an incredible year of new experiences and personal growth, and it’s all because I just happened to stumble across the position posting, I just happened to give it a shot and apply to a program in a small state completely across the country, and I just happened to choose this opportunity over all of the others I had applied to. If any of these events hadn’t occurred, the alternative chain of events would have resulted in a completely different year, and maybe even a different me. Similar chains of chance events also led all of my fellow LRCC members here to start this program at the same time as me, and if even one link in those chains of events had gone another way, I wouldn’t have met all of these amazing people who I now consider to be lifelong friends.

Now, as I apply to a number of potential “next steps,” each one paints a different vision of where it will take me and who I’ll become. It’s honestly hard not to become petrified by the future possibilities. But it’s also exciting. Hopefully, with a little luck, in the next couple of months I’ll find myself in a new position that will allow me to continue to grow and serve both the community and our environment as much as I have during my time here at the SLA.

Adel is a full-year member at the Squam Lakes Association who spent her time focusing on revamping our wood duck boxes, imputing and organizing water quality data, and planning for interpretive trail signage, among many other things. You can read more about Adel here. 

July 22, 2019, Haley Parent (Green Mountain Conservation Group)

Although I grew up  in NH, I surprisingly did not spend much time up in the Lakes Region. One of my first summer internships allowed me to do field work sampling fresh and coastal waters all over the state, but having sampled so many sites, all the beautiful places I saw that summer became faint memories. When I joined the LRCC, I was excited to explore a piece of NH that I thought was foreign to me however, my memories of the region’s remote beaches and vast lakes held better than expected and now find myself with constant lingerings of déjà vu, sampling some of the same waters as that summer internship. 

Something I appreciate now - after reflecting back on nearly nine months of service with Green Mountain Conservation Group - is the sense of place I earned and the rewards I discovered through the changing seasons. Not to say that the winter wasn’t challenging - I’ll never forget my nights spent sleeping with approximately three layers, wool socks and a hat but transitioning from my winter activities into spring and summer has reminded me of the extremes nature goes through each year in NH, and how that changes those of us who call NH home. These changes have occurred for me both personally and in my service as an educator as our programs transitioned from classrooms to the preferred outdoors.

During the colder months, I enjoyed challenging myself with some winter hiking. I did not know it at the time, but my winter hikes set me up for a whole new experience on those same peaks in the spring and summer. When the rest of the snow had melted and we could finally see ‘green’ again in May, I ventured back to my favorite local hiking spot. I parked my car in its usual area, traded my crampons and gaiters for bug spray, and started walking. However, I stopped short thinking I must have walked the wrong way. The familiar opening to the trail was replaced with overgrowth: nothing seemed familiar. I retraced my steps only to find that 1. I may not have the best sense of direction and 2. This was in fact the same trail I’d hiked half a dozen times before. As I began the ascent, I marvelled at the lush greenery and the irreplaceable smell (decomposing plant material) that I had been missing all winter. Despite the few trail markings, it was not until I began seeing the landmarks I’ve come to remember that I was truly convinced I was hiking the same trail. 

Apart from one semester abroad, I’ve never missed a winter in New England. It’s pretty incredible how each year, I nearly forget the experiences and scenery brought by spring when winter sends its last snowstorm in well, April. I do believe I’ve had a collection of experiences like this disorienting hike throughout the years, but I’m always equally as surprised that both myself and nature manage to make it through each winter and bloom all over again come spring. I’ve found enjoyment in assisting with more outdoor education, sampling of rivers and lakes, and all else that has come with the spring and summer seasons as one of Green Mountain Conservation Group’s AmeriCorps Members. Part of my transition as I finish up my service with LRCC has been recognizing these experiences in all seasons and the way that has shaped my flexibility and character. I can’t guarantee that I will be spending this coming winter in New England, but I know for a fact that my conservation service has given me many tools to adapt wherever I end up next, and for that I am grateful!

Haley is a full-year Lakes Region Conservation Corps member with the Green Mountain Conservation Group.  You can read more about Haley here. 

Join our Conservation Corps members for weekly guided hikes, volunteer opportunities, and environmental programs. Learn more by clicking here.