Conservation Journal: Stevie

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.

Stevie Raymond

March 29, 2019

2019. Afternoon. The SLA great room. “The coffee is ready.” Everyone sighs. It’s the first time I can recall where nobody is craving the mid-day pick-me-up. The fireplace warms ours bodies. It doesn’t crackle or pop, probably because it’s a gas fire, but it hits the spot. Instead, the sound of seven gurgling stomachs echo across the room. Hunger? No. Upset? Oh, yeah. Why? There’s only so much sugar a human can take, and we far exceeded it during Maple Sugar Day at Burleigh Farm. I remember looking at everyone in the room and thinking, “I’m home.”

2017. Night. Bedroom floor. A tea pot whistles. A Star Wars podcast plays. “How many points did you get?” I sigh. She knows she won. No need to rub it in. However, she’s letting me sleep on her floor, so I’ll let her have the glory. I decided to live out of my car for the summer to save money while working boat rentals at the SLA, but I find myself sleeping on Katri’s floor the majority of the time. After our game, I settle into my sleeping bag. She turns the lights off. “Night.” I remember looking up at the ceiling and thinking, “I’m home.”

2016. Night. Backyard. A fire blazes in the cool, clear sky of a summer night. The Big Dipper watches from above. Gio and Kyle play Harvest Moon on their guitars. The rest of us interns sit listening to the two goofballs. It’s a night filled with laughter and bonding. We share stories with each other, both happy and sad. It doesn’t matter though because we’re comfortable in our new family. I remember looking around the circle at the faces illuminated by the fire and thinking, “I’m home.”

Now there’s a word. Home. It’s simple. Four letters long yet it’s surrounded by a variety of interpretations. A one syllable noise that ignites the memories of friends and family. It’s a place. A feeling. A yearning we all crave. It encircles and entices our senses. The music we hear, the sights we see, the food we taste and smell, or maybe even the touch of a familiar surface. This word truly has an inescapable presence.

I’ve called Squam home for over three years now. I’ve witnessed the organization shift from offering a summer internship to a year-round AmeriCorps program; we’ve always maintained a presence in the area throughout the seasons, but now we can continue our efforts with a workforce equivalent to that of the summer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching both the program and organization grow and I wish I could stay longer to observe where everything goes from here. To see how many other organizations will join in collaboration with the AmeriCorps program. To see the SLA’s main building transitioning into renewable energy. And lastly, to see if whether or not our cottage gets a new couch-you have no idea how uncomfortable it is.

One of the drawbacks associated with the environmental field is that most jobs/programs are seasonal or temporary. We develop such strong connections that saying goodbye becomes almost unbearable. It’s as if we’re leaving a piece of us behind. As I approach the end of my service here, I can’t help but ask myself, “How many more times can I say goodbye? How many more pieces are there to leave?” I’ve said goodbye to my home twice already, the first being leaving my hometown for secondary education and the second upon completing college, but now it’s time for another farewell.

As I ready myself to trade in views of forests and mountains for the man-made landscape of a city, I can’t express enough how much we need organizations such as the SLA. A place where the employees, volunteers, and even the community work together to protect the natural world. A place that can serve as a model for conservation practices and techniques. A place that brings together people from all over. A place to call home.

Stevie is a creative. His sly smile, sarcasm mixed with wit, loyalty, and creativity have graced the SLA for the past three years.  We are excited to see where these talents will lead him!  You can read more about Stevie here.

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