August 19, 2014

Marketing Internship

By Madeline Warren, Marketing Intern

When something life changing happens to you, that moment and how you felt sticks with you for a very long time. Engrained in your memory is every little detail about the short period of time that managed to have such a big impact on your life. That moment for me is when I got the email from Squam Lakes Natural Science Center offering me the position as Marketing Intern for the summer. I remember reading that email in the middle of my college campus’ bustling cafeteria and without a second thought accepting the position. The feeling of utter excitement that I was about to embark on a new journey by myself to a place I had never been before and live there for three months is still fresh in my mind. Now it is half a year later from that day in my college cafeteria. I have spent the past three months in the beautiful town of Holderness, New Hampshire interning at the Science Center and I am not ready to say good bye.

Over the past three months I have met more interesting people, taken more pictures, and learned more about marketing than I ever thought I would. Each day there was something new to be fascinated about in the field of marketing. One thing I became particularly fascinated with is how marketing creates an identity for a business by using a specific logo with specific colors and fonts. I knew companies used the same color and logos to advertise but I had no idea how specific a brand actually gets. It was my job at the Science Center to create posters for the different programs we were having like Natural Adventures, Up Close to Animal, lake cruises, lectures and more. Each poster was like a mini work of art for me. I would have to go out and take a picture that would be fitting for the event we were advertising for, and then follow the brand identity standards the Science Center uses for all advertisements. I doubt I will ever forget how a Lithos and Rockwell font looks, or the color of that Pantone light green and dark green we use in text.

Another ongoing project that struck my interest was the marketing research and demographic survey project that was the main focus of the internship. It was a little tedious going out on the trail and asking people the same four questions (how did you hear about the Science Center, How often do you visit, Are you a member, what is your zip code). However, after I had all the information and was able to sit down at my desk and analyze the data that was very interesting for me. I liked this project because I was able to bring new information to the marketing department and I felt like I was contributing to something much larger.

When I look at my life ahead of me I want to bring new ideas and information into this world. Marketing research tests the traditional strategies of advertising and creates new ones that help businesses advertise to the public better. I think I would like to pursue this field more and the Science Center has helped me get my foot in the door of marketing research through the demographic survey project. This internship experience has really helped me define my future goals. Before this internship I was confused at what specific field I would like to go into but marketing research is definitely something I would like to continue studying.

Half a year ago in my college campuses cafeteria when I accepted this internship my life changed. I would have never thought about a career in marketing research, or met such wonderful people, or learned so much about wildlife had I not taken this internship.

August 11, 2014

Program Internship Wrap-Up

By Sarah Kelly, Program Intern

With just a couple weeks of summer left, I’ve found myself stopping to take a moment and think about how grateful I am for what I’ve been able to do these last few months at the Science Center. It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over but I guess time flies when you’re having fun and I’ve been having a blast. Being from New Hampshire, I’ve been coming to the Science Center since I was little and have always loved it. When I discovered that they offered an internship I was so excited and sent in my application immediately. Looking back to that time is a bit surreal when I consider that I’m here now. This experience has been everything I hoped it would be.

I started this summer shadowing one of the naturalists through his classes. Sitting through these programs taught me very quickly the basics of the natural history of the area and of the animals we have at the Science Center. From there I started to go off campus and assist with outreach programs at various camps, libraries, and community centers. From these programs I continued to learn about the native wildlife of New Hampshire from the naturalists and had the opportunity to talk to people about them myself. I’ve done a lot of this since in the Up Close to Animals presentations held daily for visitors. These presentations are a great opportunity for me to inform people of the special characteristics of New Hampshire wildlife, and for visitors to see and gain appreciation of the animals up close, and bring up topics that concern them. I’ve been able to discuss these ideas with people of all ages, especially kids, which was helpful for the next part of my internship.

This part involved helping out with summer Guided Discoveries, which are day programs focused on environmental themes. This gave me a much better look at how younger children learn and become engaged to new ideas about the world around them.

I’m finishing my internship working in animal care. Here I see and work behind the scenes taking care of the animals by cleaning, feeding, and enriching. Getting to work up close with some of the animals is an invaluable experience that I’ve always hoped for and now will never forget.

It’s amazing to me the amount that I’ve learned this summer. While I am studying pre-veterinary medicine in college, I haven’t learned too much about wildlife or environmental studies there, so I’ve picked up a great deal of knowledge in just a couple months. After college, I hope to find a career working with wildlife. This internship has been an amazing experience but also has put me in the direction that I would like to pursue. I am beyond grateful for the time I’ve had at the Science Center and the people who have taught me so much this summer. The Science Center has always been one of my favorite places and I’m so lucky to have been given this experience of a lifetime.

August 6, 2014

The Life and Times of the Exhibit Coyote

By Marianne O’Loughlin, Program Intern

On May 1, the male coyote made his exhibit debut and has been one of the Science Center’s most popular exhibit animals ever since. He started as a program animal when he arrived in 2008, but since another coyote arrived in 2013, he’s become a full-time exhibit animal. While the coyote is still a wild animal, he’s gotten used to a human presence from his time as a program animal. He can often be seen running to the exhibit window to investigate visitors, as curious as any wild coyote might be. Coyotes in the wild use this natural curiosity to adapt quickly to new situations. He’s quite the howler, too. If you hear any long, shrill calls anywhere around the Science Center, it’s probably the coyote. His voice carries almost everywhere. Listen in the mornings for the younger female’s response. Since the coyote is so curious, it’s important to give him new experiences every day. Animals at the Science Center, just as in the wild, need to exercise their brains as well as their bodies. We do this by engaging them to practice the same skills they might use in the wild: these new experiences are formally called “enrichment.” Enrichment might involve new objects to see, such as toys or a mirror. Coyotes in the wild are adaptable and are constantly exposed to new things in a variety of habitats.

Most of the time, enrichment involves a new kind of smell. Coyotes in the wild use their supercharged noses to sniff out prey or the trail of another coyote. At the Science Center, the exhibit coyote might smell oregano, nutmeg, vanilla, coffee, or even the scents of other Science Center animals hidden throughout his exhibit. Keep an eye out for the coyote sniffing logs, rocks, or the edges of the exhibit where the scents might be hidden.

Of course, it’s important to have enrichment that the coyote can touch and interact with, too. Since wild coyotes eat a huge variety of animals (and garbage humans leave behind), the exhibit coyote gets some extra treats in addition to his fortified diet. Fish blood, grape juice, jam, “mouse-sicles,” and peanut butter are all on the menu on occasion. We hide food in logs and behind rocks throughout his exhibit so he has to use his sense of smell to find his treats. We also cycle in different logs and rocks in his exhibit so hiding places won’t be predictable.

Coyote FAQ

Do coyotes hunt in packs?
Yes, and no. Coyotes in the east and west are slightly different from one another. Western coyotes are more solitary than their eastern counterparts.

What’s the coyote’s name?
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center's live animals serve as valuable teaching tools to educate our audiences about each species’ role in its environment. To reduce focus on the individual animal and the inherent risk of making wild animals appear as "pets," the Science Center does not use "pet" names for exhibit or program animals. While coyotes are related to dogs, they can never be truly domesticated or “tame.” Animal care staffers work with the coyote under “protected contact,” meaning that when cleaning out holding areas or the exhibit, the coyote is always in a separate area.

How many coyotes are at the science center?
Currently, we have two coyotes. The older male is on exhibit and the younger female is strictly a program animal.

Are coyotes vicious?
Coyotes have powerful teeth and jaws for capturing prey, but unless they lose their fear of humans, they will not actively harm humans unless frightened or threatened. They would rather hunt mice and other small animals and stay out of harm’s way.

The coyote’s looking skinny today. Why is that?
Just like a long-haired dog, coyotes shed their winter coats when the weather gets warm. Often, wildlife photographers capture photos of animals in winter when their coats are thick and vibrant. While animal winter coats look beautiful in pictures, they’re not useful in the hot summer months. The fur gradually sheds off, leaving coyotes looking thinner and sometimes patchy. This is also why the red foxes tend to look scruffier in the summertime. Drop by as the weather gets cooler and you’ll start to see the animals with thicker coats.

July 28, 2014

A Day in Animal Care

By Alexa Cushman, Program Intern

A day spent in animal care begins bright and early at 8:00 a.m. . Diets need to be made for the animals on the trail first and foremost. The diets get made and collected; then it is time to hit the trail. Animal care staff doesn’t use the same trails that you use, but instead employ trails behind the exhibits that lead to enclosures where the animals stay in at night. While the animals are still inside, the animal care staff goes into the exhibit where we then clean. We clean the windows, so that you all can have the best view of the animal, and anything else that needs to be cleaned up and straightened out. Once the exhibit is clean, the animal is shifted out into the exhibit. We take this time to clean up their indoor enclosure and to put out their food for the evening. We make sure that all the animal exhibits have been cleaned, the animals have been fed, and are out on the trail by 9:30 a.m.. This ensures that you can see the animals as soon as the Science Center opens in the morning.

Once the trail is open, the animal care staff then moves back indoors to the animal care room, where many of our program animals are located. Cleaning, feeding, and providing enrichment for the program animals then begins. There are two different enrichment areas within the animal care room; one indoor and one outdoors. All of the program mammals spend at least a half hour either in the outdoor or indoor enrichment room every day. Enrichment is extremely important for captive animals. Animals in captivity do not live in their natural environment and to make sure that they are mentally and physically healthy, enrichment is provided to incorporate behaviors that are more natural. In the enrichment rooms we have placed many different logs, tunnels, toys, scents, and other activities to help provide space for the animals to run, climb, jump, and explore; all of the things that these animals would normally be doing in their natural environment.

Another activity that takes place in the afternoon in between cleaning and enriching the program animals is training. Training is very important for both the program and exhibit animals. Animal care staff does not train the animals here like you may train your dog or cat at home; instead all of the training serves a specific purpose. The program mammals are trained to move in and out of a crate onto a table, and are trained to stay there because they are used in many educational programs. When the animals are able to move by themselves, it is a lot less stressful for both the animal and the staff. The program birds are trained to follow whistle signals both on and off the glove. If the bird will easily move onto the glove, it is less stressful once again for the bird and the staff. Some of our larger program animals have been trained to do other tasks such as sit and give paw. These seemingly mundane tasks are important for routine nail clippings or visits from the veterinarian. The animals on exhibit have been trained to move on and off their exhibit so the animal care staff can perform maintenance and cleaning.

When all of the cleaning, feeding, enriching, and training has been completed, usually around 4:30 p.m., the animal care staff goes back to the exhibit trail to shift all the animals into their indoor enclosures for the evening. Eventually the animal care staff also go home, after a long, but rewarding day, ensuring that you were brought a little nearer to nature!

July 25, 2014

By Jordan McDaniel, Blue Heron School Associate Teacher, Guided Discovery Instructor

I’m in my fifth year as Guided Discoveries Instructor at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, and have never been so excited about what I have planned. This summer I have had the help of an intern for the whole summer and together we have gotten really creative in the planning process. We have included the use of some different types of animals for our private mini talks, have scoured our resources for some fun, new crafts, and have come up with many new games to play. Each day is full of plenty of outdoor hands on time, crafts, games, interactions with animals and even some unstructured exploration in some of our more secluded areas on the Science Center grounds.

We have had many children return from previous years and met quite a few new friends. It’s really fun to see who is going to show up Monday, as I have seen many of them every summer since I have been here. I love the ability to establish a relationship with returning kids and their families, as well as making new friends. The children always bring something fresh and have helped me learn a few things as well!

We still have spaces available in programs such as “Up, down and around” and “Creature Features” so come check us out if you have not been here before, or come say hi if we haven’t had a chance to catch up this summer!

July 21, 2014

Docent Guided Tours

By Madeline Warren, Marketing Intern

If you’re looking for something fun to do on a Thursday at 10:30 a.m., the Docent Guided Tours offered at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center are a great way to spend your time. Docent Guided Tours are approximately ninety minutes long. These tours are given by trained Science Center volunteers who provide an in-depth look at the animal exhibit trail. Docent Guides have an extensive degree of knowledge about New Hampshire wildlife and the natural world.

Last week I was fortunate enough to join one of the Science Center’s Docent Guided Tours. My tour guide was Rachel, a volunteer Docent who spends a few months out of the year here at the Science Center working in animal care and leading tours. The tour began at the Welcome Center where Rachel introduced herself to the group of seven other visitors. I quickly learned that when Rachel is not giving tours or working in animal care at the Science Center she spends her months all over Africa giving wildlife safari tours. I could hardly believe I was about to take a tour with a true wildlife expert!

The tour then proceeded to the Trailhead Gallery where Rachel showed us the Barred Owl and explained the various adaptations owls have for living in the wild. One adaptation owls have that I thought was particularly fascinating is that the layout of the owl’s feathers is specially designed to allow the animal to silently swoop down and snatch their unsuspecting prey. Rachel was such an animated tour guide she demonstrated how the owls wings slice right through the air silently.

After giving the tour group a few minutes to walk around the Trailhead Gallery we continued to the exhibit trail. On the trail it felt as if I was taking a stroll through the woods because the wildlife was so abundant. We saw different song birds flying in the sky, chipmunks with their cheeks full of food, and an array of wild flowers. Rachel was just as knowledgeable about the wildlife at the Science Center that was not contained to an exhibit and was able to answer everyone’s questions. One couple in the group was specifically interested in learning about song birds and Rachel was able to identify all of the birds flying above and provided the couple with a great deal of information. It soon became evident that I was not just getting a tour of the animals at the Science Center but of all New Hampshire’s wildlife.

Having walked the trail dozens of times I thought I already knew everything about the animals here at the Science Center, however, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Rachel was telling me things about our exhibit animals and New Hampshire wildlife that I didn’t know before taking the tour. I especially loved that she knew so much about the stories behind each individual animal, and why they were brought to the Science Center. For just two dollars extra per person with trail admission, you will learn more than you ever thought you would about New England wildlife. I especially recommend this tour to anyone who has come to the Science Center before and wants to learn more about the animals here.

Docent Guided Tours are truly an unforgettable up close experience with New Hampshire’s animal ambassadors. In addition to gaining educational insights about the Science Center’s exhibit animals you will hear fun facts, and stories about all our animals. Docent Guided Tours truly provide an exclusive educational experience that will give you memories to take back with you.

Docent Guided Tours are offered every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. through August 28.

July 14, 2014


By Sarah Kelly, Program Intern

My knowledge has expanded immensely in my first weeks here at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center but one type of animal I was surprised I didn’t know more about are snakes. I’ve lived in New Hampshire my whole life. I haven’t encountered many snakes but there are 11 species of snakes in this state. Of those 11 species, five are endangered. The more common snakes are the garter snake, brown snake, and milk snake, while the rarest is the timber rattlesnake.

If you asked a group of people what they are afraid of, snakes definitely come up. Snakes are one of the most feared things on the planet. Even everyone’s most beloved fictional archaeologist, Indiana Jones, is deathly afraid of these creatures. This fear comes from many origins. Perhaps people don’t like the way snakes slither and hiss or think that they are slimy. Others may fear they have cunning and sly personalities such as found in books or stories. And others may fear they could be bitten and injected with venom or eaten whole by one of the bigger species. It is theorized that fear of snakes is an innate characteristic of humans. Along with fear of spiders, sharks, and other creatures, this trait is a survival mechanism so that we avoid these things. The fear is then intensified through media, stories, and depictions.

In some areas of the world the snake is seen as a symbol of evil, trickery, and deceit. In the Bible, the story of Adam and Eve portrays these characteristics as the snake tricks Eve into committing the original sin that exiles mankind from the Garden of Eden. In Ireland, St. Patrick is celebrated for ridding the island of all snakes. In Africa, snakes are associated with voodoo and in ancient cultures snakes were worshipped for deadly vengeance. In many stories the snake is personified to be antagonistic.

There are many cultures that celebrate snakes. In Greek mythology the snake is a symbol of healing and medicine. The snake was used by Asclepius, the god of medicine, on his walking staff. This symbol is still used today for medicine, pharmacy, veterinary care, and is commonly seen on ambulances. The snake also represents rebirth and renewal as it sheds away its old skin to reveal a new one. Snakes are also seen as a symbol of wisdom and shown in art as consultants to kings and queens, such as Cleopatra. Snakes are revered in India and associated with certain gods and goddesses. Snakes are also used as fertility symbols and there are festivals celebrating snakes. Even in western culture the snake is used to represent independence. The “Don’t Tread on Me” flag represents snakes positively, as tough and willing to stand up for themselves.

In general, snakes are not the slimy and calculating creatures we might think them to be. Most snakes are not slimy. Their scales are dry and smooth. The hissing noise they make comes from the use of their tongue, which they use to smell. Venom that is found in some snakes is primarily used to stun prey, (typically not for something as big as a human) and secondarily as a defense. A snake will usually only bite a human if it is taunted or startled but otherwise goes in another direction.

Snakes have been feared for centuries. This fear has caused a decrease in some populations because of eradication by humans. Snakes, however, are important to our ecosystems because they help to balance populations of small mammals, fish, amphibians, insect, and birds.

Timber rattlesnakes are an example of how eradication and other factors can bring a species to near extinction. The status of timber rattlesnake in this state is “critically imperiled.” They are so rare that there is only one population left known to New Hampshire Fish & Game. This species is the only venomous snake in New Hampshire and the only snake with a rattle. The rattle is used to warn possible attackers. The milk snake is sometimes confused for a timber rattlesnake because they also shake their tails but do not have rattles. Timber rattlesnake populations have declined mostly because of habitat destruction, automobile accidents, gravel mining, and hunting by humans. These threats are exacerbated by the snake’s reproduction patterns. Females only reach maturity after 10 years and give birth every three to four years. Any sightings of timber rattlesnakes should be confirmed and then reported to New Hampshire Fish & Game (603-271-2461).

If you visit the Science Center this summer you might be able to attend an Up Close to Animals presentation about snakes in New Hampshire and see either a Red-Tailed Boa or Ball Python. Neither of these snakes is found in New Hampshire but live successfully in captivity. Their size allows us to demonstrate the different parts of snakes. And they are large snakes! The Ball Python can grow to five or six feet, while the Boa can be anywhere from six to ten feet! The Ball Python is from Africa and the Boa from South America so seeing these creatures in New Hampshire is a unique pleasure.

To learn more about snakes native to New Hampshire, visit:

July 7, 2014

The Road Not Taken: How the Wilderness Act Preserved the United States Landscape

by Marianne O’Loughlin, Program Intern

A half hour’s drive north of Squam Lakes Natural Science Center will take you to a public wilderness: the White Mountain National Forest. This great expanse of habitat is home to both New Hampshire wildlife and geologic wonders and it’s difficult to imagine that this land fell under the protection of a law enacted only a half century ago. 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, a law that preserves land like this for future generations of wildlife and human visitors.

On September 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law and established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). It started with only 9.1 million acres. While that may sound like a vast expanse, it’s just over twice the total acreage of New Hampshire (5,954,560 acres). In the past fifty years, the United States has added additional protected sites that are equivalent to the size of the state of California. Many other countries have modeled protections on the Wilderness Act.

The Wilderness Act means that “wilderness”—once a vague, legally purposeless space—is both defined and protected by law. It keeps wilderness separate from other areas, preserving them as unaltered habitats. Industry and development is not permitted. If any logging occurs at all, it falls under strict regulation. Developed land has its place: it’s protected by zoning regulations and has at least some degree of environmental regulations. The Wilderness Act offers undeveloped lands protection from fragmentation and the damages of industry and human occupation.

As you visit the Science Center, keep in mind how animals in New Hampshire depend on unaltered, unfragmented habitat. Animals like skunks and coyotes can adapt to human environments. They can exist in areas where habitat remains only in pockets between developed areas. That same feat would be impossible for a mountain lion or a moose. If an animal requires a large territory to survive, it won’t be able to live anywhere but in isolated regions. This law ensures that such regions remain free of alteration so the natural world can flourish undisturbed. Any humans that pass through public wilderness are merely visitors, appreciating the landscape instead of its resources.

This public, undisturbed habitat has the power to bring generations nearer to nature. With great effort, we all can protect wilderness. We can share this love of the land with others so they’ll do the same. We naturally preserve and protect what we understand and love. But to fall in love with something first requires an introduction, an impossible task if unaltered habitat disappears.

For more information on the Wilderness Act and events during its 50th anniversary, please visit