Trekkers’ LEAP program (Launching Empowered and Aspiring Professionals) has just concluded its first internship of the year. Amanda Chen, a Trekkers 12th grade student on Team Allagash, served as an intern with Georges River Land Trust (GRLT). Amanda hoped to explore a career related to environmental science and experience an internship that would allow her to spend most of the time outside. GRLT was able to accommodate Amanda’s goals and interests and identified Annette Naegel, GRLT’s Director of Conservation, as Amanda’s supervisor and mentor.
On day one of her internship Amanda was already out in the field with GRLT’s lands committee, seeing how they evaluate projects for conservation. Additionally, GRLT provided Amanda the opportunity to visit preserves to assess suitable site locations for public access use. Cathy Lookabaugh, Trekkers’ LEAP Coordinator, joined Amanda for one of these field outings, along with GRLT’s Stewardship Project Manager Brent West and Trails Manager John Anders. On this trip, they visited one of their prospective new trails to assess trail location. Brent and John provided mentorship to Amanda as they tasked her to consider the placement of the new trail. Cathy remarked, “This opportunity is giving Amanda a platform to gain an understanding of this work. She was being challenged by the GRLT staff to practice a set of professional skills that would serve her well in any conservation field.”
As the internship continued Amanda was largely tasked to search for landowners in GRLT’s conservation focus area. This meant learning to use on-line data searches for town tax commitment information, designing an excel sheet to organize the information, visiting town offices and websites, and learning to identify town tax maps, commitments, and interpret property tax cards. Additionally, in the office, Amanda reviewed a collection of GRLT’s photos for public outreach and helped developed a short video about GRLT’s multi-use trails project.
Amanda expressed that this internship has given her a better understanding of this career field: “GRLT taught me that inside work is crucial in order to help the environment (and that) there is a lot of preparation needed before putting on boots to go hike the properties”. When asked what was her favorite part of the internship Amanda responded: “The staff members at GRLT. Not only were they accommodating with my desire to go outdoors, but I also have not laughed so hard in months! The work environment was just so warm and welcoming that it motivated me to put my best foot forward.” GRLT mission is to conserve the ecosystems and traditional heritage of the Georges River watershed region and Trekkers is thrilled to have this partnership.
Eleven high school seniors have opted into Trekkers LEAP program, where they will be individually placed in 40-hour paid internships in the local business community throughout the winter and spring of 2019. These internships are coordinated by Trekkers Internship Coordinator Cathy Lookabaugh with the assistance of Program Manager Brandon Caron and Program Director Hannah Tannebring Walsh. The goal of the program is to help students connect their developing interests and passions to real-world employment experiences.
For more information on Georges River Land Trust please visit their website: http://www.georgesriver.org.
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. Trekkers can be reached at 207-594-5095 and www.trekkers.org.