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 7, 2017
I’ll just sit here, mandolin in hand, and good friends a stone’s throw away who always brighten my day.
They call the Squam Lakes the “Quiet Lakes” and compared to the tourist behemoth next door-Lake Winnipesauke- this may hold true, but this summer has not been quiet. Two weeks into our normal rotating schedule, most of us interns are doing something different every day and aside from the four that may head out to dive that day, everyone is doing something different. Since one or two of us are out camping every night the intern house is a little emptier, but not quiet. Come five o’clock in the evening the house is filled with discussions about what we each have done that day. “I saw insert animal here” or, in some cases, “I charged at insert this animal here-I’m looking at you, catfish. “I met insert local legend here”- like Joe, who frequently gives the dive crew ice cream whenever they are on the Squam River. It never ceases to amaze me the kind of people you meet on a daily basis out here.
What’s my favorite job out here? Oh dear reader, if only that was a simple question to answer. I could say diving to eradicate variable milfoil from the lakes, because you get to see some amazing creatures underwater. You also get the satisfaction of knowing that you are benefiting the ecosystem as a whole by removing an invasive plant that can takeover entire bodies of water and outcompete many of the native plants. I could also say trail hosting is my favorite as I get to sit on my behind at the base of the Rattlesnake Mountains-our most popular trail- and talk to hundreds of people about what I love, the land I am growing to love, and spreading the gospel of land conservation. There is the option of saying my favorite is heading out to the islands/Chamberlin-Reynolds Memorial Forest as a campground host, because who wouldn’t love to camp as part of their job? Again, you meet awesome people and can spend your day hiking the trails and improving them for others to love- as long as you don’t mind cleaning our composting toilets on the side and dealing with Betsy, the island-hopping raccoon that has a hobby of stealing people’s food and sneaking up on you in the dark. I would like to take a moment to mention that all the jobs I just mentioned fall under our mission statement, you can read the statement in full on our website: squamlakes.org. Anyway, these jobs are only a few of the many jobs I get to do here as a conservation intern and this is why I can’t pick just one favorite.
The only times that may be considered quite is at sunset when I’m sitting on the bank of the lake. Mandolin in hand, I find renewed inspiration for playing as I become lost in the beauty that is Squam Lake. I find myself filled with emotion and next thing I know it has been an hour and my fingers are red and sore, but I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m at a point where I should probably figure out what I’m going to be doing come the end of August. Maybe I should get a real job, but I’m also entertaining the thought of sticking around here in the fall. Graduate school appears on my horizon and I should probably start prepping for that too, but right now I’ll just sit here, mandolin in hand, and good friends a stone’s throw away who always brighten my day.
Nathan is from Indiana. He graduated in May of 2017 from Ball State University with a degree in biology. Click here to read his bio.