Interview with Greg Nebucker-Trailseekers Program

Interview with Greg NebekkerTrailseekers Program
Coordinator & Retired Mental
Health Counselor
By: Susan Penhallegon
What is Trailseekers?
A non-profit and completely volunteer-based program in
the Yakima Valley.
 Provides preventative services such as pre-natal resources,
basic household necessities, clothing, help with bills, etc.
and advocacy to high-risk kids and their families.
 Trailseekers was founded by Greg Nebekker 23 years ago.
 There is approximately 150 volunteers in the program.
 The program seeks to get kids out of a stressful home
environment and away from media/entertainment sources
by allowing them to be involved in outdoor activities.
 Trailseekers provides relief for parents, as well, by helping
to eliminate the stress of parenting by giving children a
safe, healthy environment to turn to.
 There are approximately 150 families and 500 at-risk youth
who are involved in this program.
How does a child get
 Teachers from 3 schools in the Yakima Valley (BargeLincoln, Adams, & Ridgeview) refer roughly 42
kindergarten-2nd grade students at the beginning of the
school year to the Orcas Encampment outing on Orcas
Island, which takes place near the end of the summer.
 The siblings of these children (especially very small
children/infants) are automatically included in the
Trailseekers program if the parent so wishes.
 The program is big on early prevention, therefore,
getting involved with infants and very small children are
an important aspect of Trailseekers.
How Does A Child Get
Involved Continued…
 The children have to meet one of three criteria to be
accepted into the program. The criteria includes:
 Economically disadvantaged
 Non-traditional home setting
 Involved in social services or criminal justice system
Other Key Facts…
 Greg stressed the fact that most (not all) of the families
he works with do not abuse the system. They work hard
and try to get by without reaching out for help. Gregg
sees these families as slipping through the cracks, so he
is always providing them with knowledge about
resources that can help them.
 Greg also stated that about 100% of the children he
works with have witnessed some form of violence. The
violence often times involves shootings, DV, fights in the
neighborhood, the sound of gun shots at night. Gregg
also stressed the issue of children getting too involved in
video games, music, and television that all depict
violence as the norm. This has been a key factor in
Gregg’s desire to get the children involved in outdoor,
nature-related activities.
Some of the Activities
Trailseekers Kids Get
Involved In…
 A week-long experience at the Big Camp-Orcas
Encampment on Orcas Island. The children get to swim,
take yacht rides with the Orcas Yacht Club, hiking,
biking, and play in the outdoors! Greg owns a piece of
property on Orcas Island with a home that he has
donated to Trailseekers.
 Weekend trips to Mt. Raninier just for tent camping and
 Visits to the Seattle Center
 Visits to the Space Needle
A Day in Greg’s Life…
 Gregg’s day revolves around the children and families of
Trailseekers (Remember, it’s on a completely volunteerbasis).
 Gregg’s day may include 5-6 unscheduled home visits that
allow him to scope out the needs of the families and look
for any potential abuse.
 Bringing any necessary items to families who do not have
the money to purchase these basic necessities.
 Gregg gets involved, at the parent’s request, by talking with
and assisting the kids and school personnel when schoolrelated problems or adjustments arise like suspension,
skipping school, hanging out with potential gang members,
A Day in Greg’s Life
 Greg takes care of all bookkeeping and other
administrative duties.
 Greg also works with and reaches out to a number of
homeless kids on a daily basis.
 If there is a birth within one of the families, Greg
immediately goes to the hospital to get involved in the
baby’s life in hopes of providing support and early
prevention of abuse/neglect.
 Provides training for High School students in becoming
mentors with Trailseekers.
 Works with training volunteers who provide extra
support with the outings.
What Greg likes about his
Greg’s greatest enjoyment comes
from helping children discover healthy
alternatives to life and showing the
children that there are people in this
world who are nurturing and loving!
Changes Greg would like to
see with the program…
Although Trailseekers works with whole
families, boys are the only ones who can
go on the camping excursions. Greg and
the Board of Directors are working on
providing more programs within
Trailseekers that will include more
activities for girls. Right now, girls can go
to a Trailseekers function on Monday
nights at the 1st Presbyterian Church in