With the help of more than 100 adult volunteer mentors, Trekkers, Inc. provides out-of-school expeditionary learning programs, academic support and mentoring services to local youth.The nonprofit, located in Thomaston, Maine, serves youth in a mostly rural area of the most rural state in the nation. However, Thomaston youth encounter many of the challenges inner city youth experience across the country.
Thomaston youth face significant challenges, and are in need of the educational and mentoring support that Trekkers provides. They consistently register the highest rate of adolescent drug abuse and teen pregnancy in Maine with many of them from low-income households. Median household incomes are lower than the state average. Adding to these local challenges for area youth are deep cuts to education budgets across the state, along with a state-mandated consolidation that recently combined and relocated the student bodies of two separate school districts in larger regional facilities. Of the two schools that were consolidated, one is on Maine’s low-performing list; the other is in the lowest 8% in the state with regard to graduation rate. The youth in this county have the lowest post-secondary aspirations in the state.
Trekkers, an outdoor-based mentoring program, serves seventh through 12th grade students from six villages in mid-coast Maine. The organization uses a unique mentoring model to connect young people with caring adults through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education. Students join Trekkers in seventh grade and progress from grade to grade and year to year with their mentors’ support, on a six-year journey that leads to high school graduation. Students learn valuable life skills, develop leadership abilities and collectively design, plan and execute a grade-specific educational expedition each year.