Trekkers’ LEAP Program (Launching Empowered and Aspiring Professionals) is a program designed to help Trekkers’ students gain the real-life experience necessary to make informed decisions about their future. In conjunction with the 11th grade College and Career Exploration expeditions, Trekkers offers students access to a professional panel and an internship program to help students prepare for life after high-school by exploring post-secondary options and different careers.
In March, Team Penobscot and Team Allagash, participated in a LEAP Day at Camp Kieve as part of Trekkers’ 11th grade College and Career programming. This LEAP day, organized by Program Managers Alaina Ennamorati and Hannah Tannebring and Trekkers’ Volunteer and Administrative Coordinator Cathy Herr, included a professional panel of speakers and team building activities for the two cohorts of students.
The professional panel of speakers gave the students a chance to learn about a variety of career paths and explore professional interests. The students had a wide variety of interests and Trekkers was thankful to have a panel with different backgrounds and careers. Featured on the panel were the following: Steve Cartwright (Journalist/Photographer), Jack Newcomb (High School Teacher), Jen Batterman (Psychologist), Tom Hedstrom (Owner of Hedstrom Electric), Dr. Kelly Maxwell (Veterinarian), Kathleen Meil (Policy Advocate), Pat Mundy (History/Justice Professor), Tara Murray (Penbay Nurse), and Kate Tagai (AmeriCorps and Peace Corps Alum). Having such a diverse professional panel allowed students to see that each individual’s career path journey is unique and that not everyone knows their true calling early in life. The panelists encouraged the students to think about what energizes them, to try everything that excites them, and to reach out, ask questions, build connections with professionals. This experience helped broaden students’ viewpoints and perspectives on many career paths, as students expressed that it was very beneficial to learn that careers may not be a linear path but a winding road comprised from all of your life experiences.
After the professional panel of speakers presentation, the individual teams completed a high-ropes course. The challenges enabled students to expand their comfort zones, recognize personal fears and reach new heights (literally!!). Whether a team member was climbing, encouraging a team mate, or “on belay” they demonstrated the importance of teamwork and strengthened the group’s overall trust and communication.
Additionally, throughout the year, seven high school seniors were placed in the 40-hour paid internships in the local business community. These LEAP Internships were coordinated by Trekkers Volunteer and Administrative Coordinator, Cathy Herr with assistance from Program Managers Alaina Ennamorati and Hannah Tannebring. The goal of the internship portion of the LEAP program is designed for 12th grade students to explore career fields, network with professionals, gain clarity on their aspirations, and have an opportunity to practice professional skill development through a hands-on, paid internship in a professional setting of their choosing. The participating organizations included Hedstrom Electric, Steel Pro, Pen Bay Pediatric Physical and Occupational Therapy Center, Heal Accounting, Rockland Community Heart and Soul, The Landing Place, and the Thomaston Library. As LEAP host organizations, these local businesses designate a supervisor to work with the intern through their employment, providing mentorship and feedback. As the students reflected on their internships, students shared that it was an amazing experience, where they were able to learn a great deal!
Trekkers is a non-profit organization providing a long-term program that connects young people with caring mentors and leverages out-of-classroom expeditionary learning to help them grow into resilient and responsible adults. Trekkers was founded in 1994 as an outdoor-based, youth mentoring organization that now serves 240 seventh through twelfth-grade students from the Midcoast communities of Owls Head, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Rockland, Cushing and St. George. In 2017, the Trekkers Training Institute was founded to train other youth development professionals throughout the state in the Trekkers model.