Intern Journal: Dominique

The Squam Conservation Internship provides skills and experience for future conservation professionals while working as the driving force behind the SLA’s conservation mission.  This volunteer 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, work toward the eradication of variable milfoil, help preserve loon populations on Squam, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed. Learn more about the internship program here.

July 24, 2017


The day started off as any typical trail work day would. Nate, Elizabeth, and I loaded up the car with the tools we would require to do maintenance on some of the trails in the Rattlesnake network. Loppers, a folding saw, a Macleod, fire rakes, and a pick axe/mattock were all accounted for in the back as we made our way to the trailhead. We arrived at the Butterworth Trail while Brian, our Volunteer Coordinator, and his group started at the Col Trail. We were zipped from head to toe in rain gear, it was drizzling, but we were not overly wet. We continued on the trail, falling into a sync of hiking and stopping to rid the trail of blow downs, clear water bars, and cut back new vegetation. The rain had picked up, but we were under the canopy of the trees for most of the hike. When we reached the end, we stopped at a little rock face to eat lunch. As if on cue, the moment we began taking our first bites it started torrentially downpouring. Silently, we ate our lunch even as the water soaked into the bread of our sandwiches. Our rain gear had failed us. We were soaked from head to toe. Once we finished lunch we continued on with our work, completely uncomfortable but still determined to knock out more trails. The more that we hiked, cleared trees and water bars, and lopped, the more tired I became. A trail that I could normally fly up and down I found myself barely able to complete. We returned to our car, feeling slightly defeated and completely soaked. When we arrived back at the SLA headquarters we met with Brian where we discovered we had done trail maintenance on about 3 miles of trails. This may seem low, but between the three interns in one group and Brian and his group of volunteers, we managed to finish about 90% of the trails in the Rattlesnake network in one rainy afternoon. It was cold and uncomfortable, but it was the most satisfying day of trail work I’ve had yet.

Not every trail work day is like that. On July 4th, Alice, Tamara, Riley, and I completed Mount Percival in temperatures upwards of 80 degrees. It was hot and humid but the view at the top alone made it all worthwhile. As seen in the picture, I’m all grins as I point to Moon Island in the distance and Riley is hidden in the back taking a quick snooze. Trail maintenance is hard and often uncomfortable, but it is the most rewarding thing that I have done so far. I’ve hiked in this area since I was little, but it wasn’t until this summer that I realized how much dedication needs to be put into trails to maintain their integrity. None of this would be possible without the help of wonderful volunteers as well. We have trail crews going out most Thursdays in the summer, check out our calendar to see where and when if you want to help us out

Of all the important and useful things that I have learned this summer, here are some of my favorites: docks are slippery when wet, raccoons really like me, milfoil is our enemy, and whatever can go wrong, will probably go wrong (but don’t worry, we can -almost- always fix it).

Dominique is rising junior at Plymouth State University studying Environmental Biology and minoring in Sustainability. Click here to read Dominique's bio.