Conservation Journal: Sydney

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.

Sydney Kahl

February 22, 2019

“Tell us about a time when you have MacGyvered something,” is one of the most obscure, yet interesting interview questions I have ever been asked. This is a great opportunity to show them I can work out solutions independently I thought. The gears in my brain start turning as I wrack my brain to think of a good example. With all my time spent in the outdoors I surely must have MacGyvered something at some point, I think to myself.

Flash forward a few months, and I still think about this question a lot. Tasks at the SLA often include problem solving, MacGyvering, and independently figuring things out. I often think to myself, “wow, this would be a great answer to the MacGyver question.”

A recent example is when my fellow AmeriCorps member Amanda and I were given the task of creating 30 ice picks. The ice picks are a hand held safety device with spikes on the ends so that if someone were to fall through the ice while walking on the lake, they could use the sharp picks to dig into the ice and pull themselves out of the water, like a claw, or an ice axe. SLA has a few plastic pairs for going out and sampling water quality during the winter, but not enough to support a group of 60 seventh graders that we would bring out onto the ice for a school program about water quality monitoring.

Through research and trial and error, we slowly perfected our method of creating 30 ice picks. We used a wooden model that someone had already made to create our picks. Each pick is L shaped and the two fit together to create a rectangle. The nails sticking out of each end of the picks slide into a little hole on the other side of the wooden piece so the nails are covered and don’t poke you when the device is worn around your neck. It seemed simple enough, but the technique on crafting the picks turned out to be more difficult than expected.

Some of the wooden pieces snapped in half when we started cutting them with a jigsaw, others split when we tried hammering a nail into them because the wood was poor quality. Then the dremel, which we used to cut and sharpen the nails, stopped working, and other blocks snapped when we were finishing sanding them with the power sander. Eventually, we ended up with 30 handcrafted ice picks.

On the day of the school program Amanda and I ended up being the ones to hand out the picks to children. I even overheard a few kids examining the wooden blocks inquisitively asking each other how they thought they were made.

After my time as an AmeriCorps member serving at Squam Lakes Association I will have no problem answering the MacGyver Question.

Syd excels at doing pull-ups in the Great Room, cuddling her cat Moxy, and concocting tiny microwavable cakes with questionable ingredients. You can learn more about Syd here

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