Intern Journal: Riley

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 15, 2017


Windows down, wind rushes through my overgrown hair and beard. There's a song on, I don't know its name but it’s pretty and the car seems to move to its sound. I am surrounded by good people, fellow interns Stephen, Dom, Elizabeth, and Becca. We are on our way home to the cottage after a long day of hiking in the White Mountains. We are close now, as my eyes recognize the forests of Holderness as they fly by. I have always enjoyed riding in cars in the summertime, but I certainly have never felt like this. 

Memories take me back to long drives with my family during my childhood. My mother and father man the front two seats, my brother is beside me, and my dog, Boomer, is trying his very best to find the perfect wind accessing point. I feel connected to all of them, we are bonded by love. But never do I remember feeling connected to the world beyond the car in the same way, to the forests, lakes, and towns that passed us by. 

I notice now that this has changed. As we roam through Holderness and approach SLA, I am hypnotized by the natural beauty that surrounds us. On one side of the car lie the woods, and Squam rests on the other. I feel connected to both, a bond forged through my interactions within them. The first three weeks of this internship have required us to actively participate in conserving both woods and water. I have aided in the upkeep of trails, working towards maintaining the natural integrity of the forests encompassing Squam Lake. Similarly, I have begun to help in SLA's mission to control invasive milfoil within the watershed, through hand-picking it while scuba diving. 

I have dirtied my hands in the worlds that currently whiz past me. I know those woods, I know that water, and I know the people sitting beside me. I have never felt so connected in one moment, and certainly have rarely felt so alive. 

Riley is from New Jersey. He is a rising sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine and plans to major in environmental studies and political science. Click here to read Riley's bio.