Intern Journal-Caroline S.

The Squam Conservation Internship gives future conservation leaders the skills and experience needed to effectively move onto the next professional level while at the same time helping the Squam Lakes Association with our conservation mission.  This unpaid internship provides hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities.  Interns serve as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, help with the eradication of variable milfoil, perform water quality testing and monitoring, help with public education and outreach projects, perform conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction, meet and greet lake users and educate them about the dangers of invasive species. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed.

JUNE 24, 2014

Caroline S.

Things are picking up here at the SLA! In the mornings when I come back from a night of camping on the islands, around 7am, I pass the interns who are just leaving to go dive for the day. We're super busy and sometimes we interns don't see each other for a few days at a time! It's nice to come home after a weekend of camping to my "dysfunctional family," as Erik dubbed us all. But despite how much we love being together, my favorite thing here is being out on Bowman or Moon island alone. Not only do you hear loon calls punctuating the night (and your sleep) every ten minutes, you also get to watch the world come alive at dusk and dawn--the most happening times for wildlife out on the lake. It's been great interacting with the campers; I've met a lot of people who've actually taught me a lot about the area, since a lot of them have been coming here to these same campsites for several decades. And I don't hate it when they offer me cake. It's also interesting talking to visitors about the composting toilets. When I matter-of-factly remind them to add a handful of wood chips to the toilet after they use it, I often get some pretty awkward stares and the frequent diverted gaze. Apparently no one wants to lock eyes while I talk to them about their excrement. But it's not actually that difficult to win people over to the idea of composting human waste ("humanure") once a stranger to the idea moves past the initial discomfort. Most people coming to Squam have a vested interest in conserving the beautiful environment here, and so when you start to explain the science behind composting toilets, it seems like almost everyone can get behind it. It's all about nutrient renewal--if urine and feces get pumped into a septic tank or end up squashed into dry cubes at a landfill, that's a whole lot of precious carbon and nitrogen you've just denied an ecosystem. The circle of life gets a little dicey when you start eliminating resources that are supposed to be recycled, and humanure is one incredibly important resource that is too often overlooked. Seeing the two- and three-year-old compost being put back into the forest makes me appreciate conservation efforts all the more. Especially at such a beautiful place like Squam, you give back what you take.

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