Intern Journal-Ryan

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 unpaid 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, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Learn more about the internship program here. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed.

With the summer flying by at an alarming pace, I find myself making an extra effort to slow it down any way I can. Within the menagerie of daily tasks, which have blended together in a wild sprint of routines, I have tried to consciously hold on to singular moments. Think of it like a mental snapshot, but not just of images, but of moods and sounds, even smells. They need not even be that special; a simple lull in our dive day, perhaps between getting out of the water and switching places with one of my fellow divers. I look around at the determined faces, who, just as I would if I had not made a game of it, continue to divulge in their work as the day crawls along. I know down the road, I will miss these moments, which happen so commonly and so discretely that I could easily let them pass by as I lived them. Oddly enough, I feel no impending sadness when these moments pass. The only emotions that hang heavy in my mind are affiliated with privilege, chiefly, how lucky I am to be experiencing this place with these people. Hidden bliss, you could say, has been the only thing I’ve been able to hold on to out of the little moments I have bookmarked. I wouldn’t have noticed how happy I was in the intermediate spaces, between the peaks of larger events, if I had not taken a breath to slow things down for just a minute. Catching a snapping turtle in Asquam marina, and following the emerging, tangerine moon with moth-like intention (while camping on Bowman last week) will be too easy to remember when I gaze back at this internship. I want to make the common moments stand out when I reminisce, because they are so quickly forgotten, and yet make up the majority of the time I am spending here. I can sleep easy knowing that I have threaded a few of those instances along when I look over my shoulder a couple years from now.

I am hoping this journal will help with my odd endeavors, if not by writing my memories down within it, then by being here to coax the moments out of my mind when I wish to retrieve them. Like the subtle satisfaction of finding new critters to add to the tanks in the great room, or the sly confidence of knowing that that one patch of milfoil won’t be growing back, because of how diligently the roots were stripped from the mud. I hope I will remember the silence as we all sit on the dive boat after hour six of being on the water, with the pangs of exhaustion seeping in through our wetsuits. More practically, I hope I remember all the handy-man things that Brett has taught me, as I will most likely need to know them at some point outside of Squam. It’s scary how much I have absorbed this summer, and without a textbook in my hands, it’s hard to document how many pages of things I have stuffed into my brain so far. I don’t know if I’ll ever be placed into a learning environment as lush as this one, where even the dullest of instances deserve to be remembered with all the others.

Read more Intern Journal entries here.