Youth and Family

What is NorthStar?

Youth on a research vesselNorthStar is a youth mentoring program of the University of Maine Bryant Pond 4-H Center. In partnership with SAD#44 the NorthStar Coordinator, Lyndsey Smith, works closely with school staff to build relationships with students by offering both in and out-of-school experiences and also by making herself available for student support throughout the school day. The goals of NorthStar are to expand students’ horizons, raise aspirations, build confidence and leadership skills, and foster resilience. NorthStar will be offering single and multi-day experiences focusing on community engagement and service, outdoor adventure and leadership, and cross-cultural opportunities. NorthStar encourages students to build a strong voice in making decisions for the group and each year the program will be different based on the students’ developmental stages, interests, and the academic and behavioral requirements set forth by the group.  NorthStar will also connect students with caring adult mentors through volunteer opportunities, adventures, homework assistance, group meetings, and “core” trips.

Three Core Pillars of the NorthStar Program

Other Important Program Components:

Caring Adult Mentors

Students will work with many different community members over the course of their participation in the NorthStar Program.  These volunteer mentors will participate in core trips and meetings and will support students academically, with job placement, college applications, skill building and much more.

Relationship Building

Lyndsey will spend considerable one-on-one time with NorthStar students to help develop their interests, support them academically and socially and to help provide direction or resources to families when needed. Volunteers will also work hard to get to know students during our NorthStar experiences. 

Student Voice and Choice

Students will be expected to help plan group experiences by selecting menus, trip locations, service experiences, and more. 

The Program is Free!

NorthStar is monetarily free to students currently enrolled in SAD#44.  Opportunities for financial contributions will be available for families and community members to help support the program costs.  Students will be expected to participate in fundraising and volunteering events.

How to Apply:

Contact Lyndsey Smith at 207.890.8625 or

Applications will be accepted in December and January of a student’s 7th-grade year for the initial program. Students are also welcome to apply at any time throughout 7th-11th grade and will be added to a waiting list if an opening doesn’t exist.

NorthStar Application (PDF)

Student Testimonials

NorthStar is an amazing program if you are a couch potato because you can experience new things and get outside!”  — Jace C. 2019

“The NorthStar program is a program that gets me out of the house, for the weekend or even just a day. In 7th grade, we went to Acadia National Park for a weekend and got to do a lot of outdoor activities. That was an amazing experience! Some of my highlights from that trip are going on a boat in the ocean, and seeing otters, watching the sun go down from the top of Cadilac Mountain, and spending time with the group. We also got to go to the Common Ground Fair and I can’t wait to go back in 10th grade. Lyndsey comes to Telstar to meet students when they need her and she is always there for us.” 

— Jayden T. 2019

When I first started to work with Lyndsey I was a shy kid that did not know how to get along with other kids. Now that I have been working the NorthStar program for about a year I have made improvements in my ability to get along with others. Lyndsey is a good friend and has helped me become a better person and find out about my true self.”  — Max W. 2019

NorthStar has changed my life by giving me a chance to visit different places like colleges. Northstar gives students the chance to be heard and understood. You have a voice and people listen to you when you have an idea or just want to speak.“  — Azaria A. 2019

NorthStar has affected my life by giving me something to do and allowing me to hang out with people I don’t normally hang out with.” —  Logan M. 2019

Family Testimonials

“Our family has had the most amazing experience with the NorthStar program. Hunter, our son, has evolved as an individual. This program
has allowed him to express himself through all the outdoor activities and in group to the gatherings. Community service projects and being able to explore different parts of Maine has opened not just our son’s eyes but our families to all the unique and gorgeous places that we can explore together. The support that we receive from 
NorthStar has allowed others from our big family to participate as well. NorthStar gave us opportunities we would never have experienced otherwise. Being new to New England can be a little intimidating but the NorthStar program is a jewel and a safe place for all four of my children to grow. NorthStar and the caring adults will help support their personal growth as individuals and will help them learn to network and communicate with anyone and everyone.

—  The Lake Family 2019

School Staff Testimonials

I would like to share that I have been so pleased and impressed as the principal of Telstar Middle School with Lyndsey Smith and the NorthStar program.  What Lyndsey has been able to bring to our students is invaluable. A sense of belonging, support, pride, and accomplishment, the first cohort had an amazing experience and now watching the second group get started gives such hope and promise for these kids.  Enriching their experiences through food, trips, physical challenges, and a sense of community helps these students navigate the rough waters of middle school and find success. She also reaches out to other students in the whole grade so everyone who wants that extra attention gets some.  Lyndsey has integrated herself and her program seamlessly into our middle school community and we could not be luckier!”

—  Mark Kenney, Principal of Telstar Middle School 2019

“Lyndsey Smith and the NorthStar Program are such an asset to the youth at Telstar Middle School.  The underlying Trekkers’ Principles guide the programming. And Lyndsey embodies the level of commitment needed and the relationship-building skills required to develop an outstanding program.  The students know that she will listen to them and provide support both within the school day and out in the community.”

— Kristen Powell, Telstar Middle and High School Social Worker 2019