Cultivating the inherent strengths of young people through the power of long-term mentoring relationships.


We value partnering with families, schools and community members over going it alone.

We value the person over the program.

We value the process over the outcome.

We value authentic, open and honest dialogue over top-down leadership.

We value challenging our perceived limitations over the security of the status quo.

Trekkers Youth Programming Principles

1. Designing Intentional Program Delivery Systems for Long Term Engagement

Creating small, inclusive, purposeful learning communities and designing a multiyear, “stepladder” program model that works with young people and their families over time. This longterm commitment to relationship-building allows for the time and space needed to adapt to the everchanging developmental needs, strengths, and interests of young people.

2. Fostering Mutual Trust Between Families and Program Staff

Nurturing a caring, compassionate, and equitable relationship between program staff and the parents, caregivers, and extended family members responsible for raising the young people participating in the program.

3. Developing a Skilled Network of Caring Adults and Peer Mentors

Recruiting and training a diverse group of adult and peer mentors who have an openness and willingness to learn about young people’s complex identities in order to play a critical role in meeting their relational needs and promoting their strengths over time.

4. Applying a Comprehensive Approach to Youth Development Strategies

Building targeted holistic youth development methods into the overall program model to help young people find selfidentified success and navigate challenges during adolescencewith a focus on proven promotion, prevention and intervention strategies that support the lived experiences of the students served.

5. Create a Community Support Network

Assembling diverse, culturally relevant and responsive support networkfor young people by partnering with parents, caregivers, schools, key community stakeholders, health services and other youtadvocate agencies to help meet the unique needs and strengths of each young person served.

6. Prioritizing Informal Relationship Building

Showing up and being present in the lives of youth and families outside of formal programming. Building into the program model a clear commitment to connect with young people in their world through intentional and strategic community outreach.

7. Expanding Worldviews

Creating experiential learning opportunities that connect youth with people, cultureplaces and natural resources that exist outside the reach of their everyday lives.

8. Embracing Voice & Choice

Sharing power and giving young people input into the decisionmaking process.

9. Encouraging Community Engagement to Foster Personal and Societal Awareness

Incorporating experiences that support young people in understanding themselves within the larger societal context emphasizing the role those cultural norms, individual beliefs, institutions and systems all play in shaping their sense of identity and the world they’re growing up in.

10. Raising Optimism and Post-Secondary Aspirations

Designing targeted experiences to help youth explore, identify, and cultivate their individual talents, sparks, and learning interests as they transition to and through high school.

11. Utilizing Validated Assessment Tools to Promote Social-Emotional Development in Youth

Collecting socialemotional development and resiliency data to inform program practice and build strengthbased strategies to support individual prevention and intervention strategies.

Created by Don Carpenter and enhanced through continuous practice at Trekkers.


Kate Elmes, Interim Executive Director 

Kate was named Trekkers’ Interim Executive Director in 2024. For the past six years, she served as Director of Development, working to build Trekkers’ visibility, impact, and financial resources, including by launching Trekkers’ first capital campaign. Kate is passionate about helping individuals and families make a meaningful impact in their community through an investment in Trekkers. Prior to joining the Trekkers team, Kate was a Development Officer at the Island Institute and worked at Kieve-Wavus. Kate holds a B.A from Lesley University with Degrees in Women’s Studies and Political Science. In her free time, Kate is active on numerous boards that foster youth and female leadership in Maine. Kate lives in Damariscotta with her husband, Andrew, daughter Eleanor, and their dogs, Piper and Lucy.


Brandon Leppanen, Program Director

Brandon is Trekkers’ Program Director. He has a B.A. in Outdoor Education with a concentration in Adventure Leadership from Johnson State College in Vermont. He is an alumnus of Trekkers and has served as an expedition leader, mentor and AmeriCorps member. He has worked with local youth in a number of different roles as well as in Vermont as a mentor for Laraway Youth and Family Services. He not only believes in, but has experienced, the power and importance of youth being connected to their community. In his free time, you’ll likely find him on a mountain, in the woods, on the water, or in a hammock.


Diane Sternberg, Training Director

A desire to explore Maine’s coast brought Diane here over 15 years ago and she’s been living and working in Midcoast since. She is passionate about connecting youth to growth-oriented experiences. She facilitated programs for Ocean Classroom, worked as a course director and the semester program director for Hurricane Island Outward Bound and helped Cornerspring Montessori School design and implement their inaugural integrative middle school. She is thrilled to join the Trekkers team as the TTI training director. Diane recently completed her MA at Middlebury’s Bread loaf School of English. She loves going on adventures, watching the moonrise and swimming in cold water.


TJ Morris, Principal Program Manager

TJ joined the Trekkers team as a Program Manager in September of 2019. She first became interested in outdoor education as a student at Washington State, where she went on a three-day sailing expedition. Since then, she has achieved a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of Hawaii and worked at a number of outdoor education organizations on tall ships and on land. She originally came to Midcoast Maine in 2017 to work as an outdoor educator with the Chewonki Foundation, and fell in love with the rocky coastline and the tight-knit community. In her spare time she loves to curl up with her cat, Tractor, and a good book.


Kaleb Robinson, Program Manager

Kaleb joined Trekkers as a Program Manager in December of 2020. In the spring of 2019, Kaleb graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a B.S in Business Management, with a concentration in International Management and a minor in Leadership Studies. Kaleb is an Alum of the Trekkers class of 2015, and became involved as a student leader and adult volunteer. He enjoys helping foster relationships, building community, and spending time outdoors with students, volunteers, and Trekkers staff. Outside of Trekkers you would most likely find Kaleb spending time with friends either cooking, playing board games, exploring outside, or a combination of all three!


Mitchell DelFrate, Program Manager

Mitchell joined the Program Team in September 2023, after serving for over two years as an AmeriCorp member at Trekkers. Prior to then, he spent three years studying Surveying Engineering Technology at the University of Maine. As a Trekkers Alum (Class of 2017), he enjoys building meaningful relationships with students as a way to give back to the community. He is happy to be part of organization that was so influential for him as a student. Outside of the office you will mostly find Mitchell working out, reading, and spending time with family.


Teresa Valdepeñas, Communications & Impact Manager

Before starting at Trekkers in 2019, Tess worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine in Camden as a Community-Based Manager. Originally from Massachusetts, she she spent over a decade in Boston working in advertising agencies as a studio artist, account executive, researcher, and creative strategist. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Boston University. Outside of the office, you can find Tess birding on Beauchamp Point, tending to veggie plants, or toasting s’mores around a campfire. Tess lives in Camden with her husband.


Lauren Lewis, Administrative Coordinator

Lauren is the Administrative Coordinator at Trekkers. She attended the University of Connecticut for her BFA and Winterthur/University of Delaware for her MS and Certificate in Art Conservation. She moved to Maine in 1998 and has worked in several nonprofit organizations in the area since then. Most recently, she was office manager for the Camden Conference. She was drawn to work for Trekkers because, as a mother to a middle schooler, she has become very aware of the challenges youth are facing, especially in recent years. Her other passion is art, and she maintains a painting conservation studio in Rockland. She lives in Thomaston with her husband and daughter and a small menagerie of pets.


Jamie Fullerton, Finance Assistant

Jamie is Trekkers’ Finance Assistant.  She joined the team after being in financial services in Southern Maine for many years, holding positions in Accounting and Finance. Jamie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Maine. In addition to working for Trekkers, she also sub-teaches in local schools at all grade levels.  She enjoys being involved with youth which makes Trekkers an ideal fit for her interests and passion. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, gardening, traveling and just being outdoors.  She lives in South Thomaston.


Myla Ferland, AmeriCorps Member

Myla graduated from the University of Maine in 2023 as a social work major. She is a Trekkers alumna and was a part of the student leadership program; after she graduated in 2019, she continued to work with Trekkers as a volunteer before joining as an Americorps member in January 2022! When not working at Trekkers, Myla enjoys music, reading, hiking, and spending quality time with her friends and family.


Kamryn Prior, AmeriCorps Member

Kami graduated from Oceanside High school in 2022 as a Trekkers alum. She acted as a student board member for Trekkers in 11th and 12th grade, and was an active participant on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. She continued to volunteer as a leader with Trekkers after high school and in September 2023 joined the team as an AmeriCorps member. Kami likes to spend time outside hiking.



Kathleen Meil, President
Camden – Policy and Partnerships Director, Maine Conservation Voters

Eric Waters, Treasurer
Spruce Head – Retired CFO/COO, Parent of a Trekkers Alum

Alyssa Landrith, Secretary
Rockland – Trekkers Alum, Co-Owner of Adventure Advertising

Makaila Hickey
Rockland – Trekkers Alum

Bryson Cowan King
Roslindale, MA – Trekkers Alum, Assistant Director of Philanthropy and Engagement, Beaver County Day School

Laura Miller
Tenants Harbor – Parent of Current Trekkers Student and Alumni

Melissa Carr
Camden – Business Director of Alford Lake Camp

Kaylee Chiaramonte
Thomaston – Current Trekkers Student

Liam Burlingham
Cushing – Current Trekkers Student

Anya Felton
St. George – Current Trekkers Student