I spoke with Laura Miller, of Tenants Harbor, who joined the Board of Trekkers last Fall. She’s a parent of a 6th grade “Trekkers-hopeful” and also three older sons who are in or have been in Trekkers (one who graduated in 2018, as well as a senior and a sophomore in high school).
So when Miller’s dentist and former Trekkers Board Member, Dr. Mike Hersom suggested she consider joining the board, Miller says she “jumped at the opportunity and I’d like to thank him for thinking of me! [I joined because it made sense] timing-wise, with my boys being older and feeling like maybe I would have more time. Really excited to have the opportunity to get to know everyone on a deeper level because everyone is just so awesome,” she said.
We spoke over zoom but from miles away and through two screens, there were moments when I could tell she spoke from the heart. When asked why she joined the Board, she said “Trekkers made a profound impact on all three of my boys…and all in different ways. They’re all very different from each other, so it’s been great to see the positive impact on each of them.”
She recalled experiencing Trekkers through her sons’ eyes, like when they came back from expeditions “stories would come out days, weeks later – ‘oh, I forgot to tell you this happened’… I’ve had some emotional moments processing how deeply affected they have been during their time with Trekkers. It feels really good as a parent to know the many ways they are learning and growing from these experiences.”
It’s not only about trips, though. “I think Trekkers does a really good job of getting kids involved in the community…[it’s good for] the community to see Trekkers out in the public volunteering and doing their part. Even the fundraisers are big community-based things – the kids are always involved and helping out, the parents too.”
Any advice for another parent of Trekkers? “Get to know the program manager – they are awesome and they are there for parents, too. To this day, I would be comfortable reaching out to my sons’ program managers if I needed to ask for advice or support; I know they would be giving of their time and genuinely willing to listen.”
While she’s new to being on the Board and Chair of the Program Committee, she humbly admitted to an innovation that she’s already helped drive. In December, when Trekkers hired a new Program Manager, Miller worked with Brandon Caron, Program Director and Amie Hutchison, Executive Director to give students more of a seat at the table. Students joined the interview process and ultimately helped decide who to hire. “I was so impressed…they got right into it, gave great perspective and insight. They made some really great points and pointed out things we didn’t even notice or appreciate. I feel like going forward, students should always be involved.”
What’s she’s looking forward to most? Her first 7th grade expedition to Acadia! “I would say every time, I would love to do that. [My sons] all have some of the best memories from that trip so it should be a lot of fun…in the past, it may have been out of my comfort zone – I’m happy to be putting myself out there and think being involved from this side will help me grow as a person as well.”
As we signed off, I was struck by how much she spoke from a place of humility, honesty, and openness. In my opinion, these are exactly the values needed to inspire collaboration – perfect for an organization committed to community and the ability to respond to its ever-changing needs.
For over 25 years, non-profit organization Trekkers has been dedicated to helping young people thrive. Through its unique six-year mentoring and expeditionary learning program, evaluation data shows students measurably increase strengths in resilience, relationships with peers and adults, and develop aspirations for their future. To learn more, visit the website at trekkers.org.