Conservation Journal: Erin

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.

January 29, 2018


We recently did a couple of training days for something I can honestly say I never thought I would attempt- chainsaw use. This was a sort of surprise addition to our LRCC training, and was much needed due to the large amount of trees blown down on trails, and the large piles of logs that need to be cut up to use for firewood at our campsites.


I’d be lying if I said the days leading up to the training weren’t slightly nerve-wracking, and I even began to worry that the chainsaw would be too heavy for me to hold for extended periods of time… We were given homework to read- two several hundred page long manuals, which were of course dry but very informative. Training day began with a slideshow about safety, then slides about cleaning the chainsaw, then more slides about safety, then even more… and then in the last two hours of the day we actually started to use the chainsaws. And you know what? Something about reading 300+ pages and sitting through 6 hours of safety training about a topic actually made me very ready to begin doing it, and I was not nearly as nervous as I had been that morning.

We started with just starting the chainsaw (which proved to be the challenge I wasn’t expecting..), and then actually began cutting up some logs! Sweating despite the cold, I successfully cut off a small limb from a tree downed in the parking lot. Of course I got a few safety corrections from Brett, because there’s a lot to remember, and it may sound like a small feat, but it was still a good feeling. We went on to practicing on larger logs as well.

The reason I came back to the SLA to work in the LRCC program was because, despite the love/hate relationship I have with this, I am always pushed outside of my comfort zone. Always safely, and always with plenty of encouragement, and always to do things I never thought I would be doing. I think it’s had a huge impact on what I feel confident in pursuing in the future, and overall makes me a much better conservationist. A lot of the challenges ahead and conversations we need to have to protect the environment will take us out of our comfort zones, and I think I’m getting a great head start.

Finally, to give you the best portrayal of that day, I’m including a picture of Brett standing next to me and lecturing everyone about something I did wrong. Cheers!

Erin is from Dallas, Texas. She graduated from the University of Austin where she majored in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Biology. Click here to read Erin's bio.

Join Erin for a moonlit walk in Chamberlain Reynolds on January 30th. Learn more by clicking here.