Intern Journal: Eric

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.

June 23, 2017


In the first week of our training we interns had a cheesy moment when during one session of training we were told not to be responsible, but to be response-able. This was accompanied by a nice visual of response-able spelled out on a large easel, with the able part underlined in red marker. The idea behind ‘response-able’ is that we, as interns, are not trained to know the exact solution for every problem we encounter, but rather we are able to solve problems using our own individual methods, i.e, we are able to respond. Much of our training reflected this ethos, with emphasis placed on figuring solutions out to problems instead of memorization. Training in this way felt much harder than the more traditional methods I have grown accustomed to over years of schooling, where teachers gave me all the needed information and walked me through the steps. However, training in this fashion allows for us to be more independent, encourages creativity, and favors practical solutions over theoretical ones. ‘Response-able’ training involves making mistakes (which we have made many of), and learning from them, figuring out what went right and what went wrong.  

With the summer schedule in full swing it now makes sense to me why we were trained in this fashion. As I write this I am preparing to spend my first solo weekend on Bowman Island. I will spend three days on an island, with no cell phone service and no internet. The problems I face I will have to solve on my own. I won’t be able to Google for a solution or phone my dad. Hopefully there won’t be any massive issues needing immediate attention, but even so, I feel prepared should one occur, as training in this fashion builds one's self-efficacy, one's belief in their own ability to finish an objective.

Looking forward, I expect my fellow interns and I will have to be quite response-able this summer. We have already managed to break a number of things, from windows to boats, and I only expect this list to grow. We raised a mouse and caught a squirrel. Have had to fend off raccoons from our food supplies. Every day I wake up and head off to work I have no idea what to expect, the only certain is that I know I am prepared, and able to respond.

Eric is a rising sophomore at Bates College where he hopes to major in environmental economics. Click here to read Eric's bio.