Local Businesses Provide Internships for Trekkers’ LEAP Program

Trekkers LEAP intern Alex Barstow prepping vegetables in the In Good Company kitchen with Chef Zeph Belanger  (photo credit: Caitlin Clark)

Trekkers LEAP intern Alex Barstow prepping vegetables in the In Good Company kitchen with Chef Zeph Belanger (photo credit: Caitlin Clark)

Trekkers’ LEAP program (Launching Empowered and Aspiring Professionals) had six high school juniors placed in 40-hour paid internships in the local business community. These internships were coordinated by Trekkers Internship Coordinator Caitlin Clark. The goal of the program was to help students connect their developing interests and passions to real-world employment experiences.  The participating organizations included Pen Bay Healthcare, Alexis Iammarino in conjunction with The Steel House, VStv, Bay Chiropractic, In Good Company, and Penobscot Bay YMCA. Trekkers’ LEAP Program is made possible, in part, by a gift from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Inc.

Alex Barstow, a Trekkers 11th grader at Oceanside High School, served as an intern at In Good Company, a restaurant and wine bar on Rockland’s Main Street. Alex hoped to explore the culinary and pastry worlds, and Chefs Melody Wolfertz and Zeph Belanger were willing to show her the ropes. Alex worked in the kitchen after school helping with prep tasks such as cutting bread, peeling potatoes, shelling shrimp and stuffing peppers. Zeph explained, “You’ve got to start with the basics so that you can feel comfortable working in a kitchen.” Zeph and Melody also took to the time to explain to Alex what they were doing as they built sauces and prepped components for dishes on the menu that night.  In Good Company features dishes and ingredients from culinary traditions all over the globe, especially for their popular “Food Journey” evenings, which highlight a particular culture’s foods.  Zeph explained his philosophy regarding interns and on-the-job learning: “I think everyone should work in a restaurant at some point. You don’t have to want to be a chef as a career, but you should want to learn how to cook, how to make food that is delicious. Working in a restaurant like In Good Company exposes you to ingredients and flavor profiles from all over the world.”

Melody Wolfertz founded In Good Company in 2004 after working for 22 years in the restaurant industry in Maine, D.C., Texas and Colorado. The restaurant has received accolades from food writers and patrons who appreciate Mel’s inventive and delicious food and extensive wine list. In Good Company has employed Trekkers students in the past, and catered fundraising events for the organization. We are tremendously grateful for her continuing support of the organization.

Trekkers’ Internship Coordinator Caitlin Clark remarked, “LEAP gives students a platform to explore career possibilities, network within the local community, and practice a set of professional skills that will serve them well in any career. Alex embraced the opportunity to try out a new field, learn to operate as a team in a small space and also learn new cooking techniques.”

In April, the six LEAP students, along with their fellow 11th grade Trekkers, participated in a 10-day College/Career Exploration expedition. In that program, each student researched careers of interest and selected up to two institutions of higher learning that they wanted to visit during the expedition. At the end of the expedition, the students were equipped with a list of insights and personal preferences to help guide their post-secondary pursuits. At a time when they are focused on their future, the LEAP internship program is a logical first step for informing the students’ college/career program.

For more information about these 11th grade programs, go to www.trekkers.org or contact the Trekkers office (207) 594-5095. Trekkers is a non-profit outdoor-based mentoring program that connects young people with caring adults through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education. This year, Trekkers will serve more than 200 7th through 12th grade students from the communities of Cushing, Owls Head, Rockland, South Thomaston, St. George and Thomaston.

 

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