Conservation Journal Alison and Alyssa

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 18, Alison (Lake Winnipesaukee Association)

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been a little over a month and a half since I have arrived in New Hampshire and started with the Lake Winnipesaukee Association (LWA). The time has flown by and I have learned so much since I began in June. The mission of LWA is to protect the water quality and natural resources of Lake Winnipesaukee and its watershed now and for future generations. Gloria and I have been immersed in this mission throughout the various projects and activities we have been doing. From performing a watershed survey to identify potential “hotspots” of stormwater runoff and pollution loading into the lake to assessing homeowners properties and suggesting “do-it-yourself” remedies to help reduce their stormwater runoff, all our efforts are to help protect the water quality of Lake Winnipesaukee.

Pictured here is one of my favorite things Gloria and I get to do. The LWA has been working with the University of New Hampshire’s Lakes Lay Monitoring Program since the late 1970’s. This program trains citizen volunteers around NH to monitor the water quality of the lakes that they are associated with. Using a simple water quality monitoring kit, these volunteers are provided with the tools they need to collect samples on a monthly basis at a designated sampling location. Simply using a black and white disk, thermometer, and garden hose contraption, volunteers have everything they need to collect a sample, process it, and freeze it for UNH to collect at a later date. 

When I arrived in June, I attended 3 training sessions with new volunteers to learn how to sample the water in Lake Winnipesaukee. Subsequently, Gloria and I offered to go out with volunteers if they weren’t comfortable going out themselves or wanted a partner to help with sampling. I love being out on the lake and working with volunteers who are dedicated to keeping the lake clean for future generations. Not only am I helping to collect long term data, but I am also learning about the generations of families who have lived on the lake through the volunteers I get to work with. I am always excited to go out with a volunteer and learn about their connection to the lake and share their enthusiasm for keeping it clean. 

In the picture, I am holding a plankton tow. Gloria and I were trained to use a cyanobacteria monitoring kit. Recently cyanobacteria blooms have been popping up all throughout New Hampshire; since June at least 10 advisories have been issued at various lakes. Cyanobacteria (often referred to as blue-green algae) can be a threat to both human and animal health as well as the local economy. They are found everywhere in smaller numbers but when a bloom forms, this can cause an issue. People are advised to stay out of the water when a bloom is detected because there is a possibility that there may be toxins present. Therefore, cyanobacteria monitoring kits have also been created so people can sample for these organisms. Using this plankton tow, we collect a sample for UNH to analyze and a sample for ourselves that we can take back to the office and check under a microscope to see if we caught anything. So far, we’ve only been out with it once and nothing was detected. I’d love to see something under a microscope but I guess if nothing is found that’s a good sign too!

Alison is a recent graduate of Lafayette College with a BS in Biology.  You can read more about Alison here!

July 18, 2019 Alyssa (Camp Hale)

What an incredible first half of my summer so far. I have been serving for the past 5 weeks at Camp Hale in Center Sandwich and so far I have felt many feelings while I’m here but regretful has not been one. I could have never imagined a more perfect place for me to be this summer. It all started with a couple of training weeks. In those first couple weeks there were no kids and no counselors on camp yet so I had the place all to myself and a couple administrators at the camp. I took this time to explore the camp and busy myself with activities during the day to prepare the camp for the children who came up about 2 weeks later. To make the camp easily accessible for many (especially young children) me and my partner have been clearing trails of much of the large debris that fell over the winter months. While doing this trail work there have been many discoveries that get us talking with the children and each other.

One of the most interesting discoveries has been sawfly larvae. If you’ve never heard of these insects then it may be worth it to look up a picture of them. Upon clearing a rock wall with a large drainage area in it we stumbled across the larvae when we saw a large fern that had grown with the ends of its leaves balled up. Since we were very curious as to why this was we carefully broke open the balled up section to a cocoon-like enclosure that housed one of the alien looking sawfly larvae. It was an incredible find and something that I never would have discovered if I had not been cleaning around the area. I have also discovered a love for slugs while I am flipping old and decomposing logs. I will make sure to attach a picture to this to show just how incredible they are up close.

The first thing that the campers know us as are “the people working in the woods”, but as the sessions go on it has been incredible to work with the counselors on creating an interesting and informative nature curriculum to teach the campers. I have had a blast connecting with the campers and helping them learn about nature and conserving the environment. My favorite parts of the day are after I have completed a big task and get to take the time to enjoy the lake with the kids by swimming and enjoying watercraft. I also get to be with the kids while they spend their time on surfaces that we have groomed. It is incredible to receive a thank you for doing the work that makes the lake and the rest of the camp more accessible for everyone.

As the summer goes on I cannot wait to explore more of the lakes region and have a blast with the campers and counselors while making the trails of camp hale the best they can be!

Alyssa is currently in pursuit of her BS in the biological sciences at the University of Manchester.  You can read more about her here!


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