Trekkers, a local youth mentoring organization, will present An Evening of Poetry with Richard Blanco Wednesday, July 17, at 7 p.m. at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St. Tickets are now on sale.

Chosen as the 2013 inaugural poet, Blanco has published three books including “Looking for the Gulf Motel,” which received this year’s Maine Literary Award for poetry. Blanco's work details his journey to uncover his cultural identity as the Spanish-born and American-raised son of Cuban exiles. A resident of Bethel, Blanco also works as a civil engineer.

After listening to the inaugural poem, “One Today,” and after hearing about Blanco’s search for cultural identity, Trekkers’ executive director Don Carpenter recognized the familiar themes of diversity and acceptance that his organization teaches local youth.

“All of Trekkers’ programs include an educational component that focuses on cultural awareness,” Carpenter said. “We continually seek to open our students’ minds and hearts to the cultural uniqueness of the people we meet in every location we visit during our expeditions. Through experiential learning, we strive to teach our students to appreciate everyone’s heritage, to value diverse perspectives, to honor differences and celebrate commonalities.”

Trekkers currently works with 180 students in grades 7 to 12 from the communities of Regional School Unit 13. The organization connects young people with caring adults through community service, expeditionary learning and adventure-based education. Over the past three years, the nonprofit group has been expanding its services and broadening its service area in a stepwise process that will double the number of students in its six-year program. As the expansion continues, Trekkers has been looking for ways to strengthen and enhance its connections with the broader community. Bringing this year’s inaugural poet and his message of inclusiveness to the area is one way to build that connection.

“This evening of poetry will not only allow Trekkers to bring a nationally known poet to the area, it will also give us a chance to introduce the community to what Trekkers is and does,” Carpenter said.

In addition to the poetry reading and a Q&A session with Blanco, the evening will feature some of the work of Trekker students. General seating tickets are $20; tickets for a pre-event reception with the poet, including preferred seating at the Strand Theatre, are $75. All proceeds benefit Trekkers’ youth mentoring programs. Tickets are on sale at the Trekkers office in Thomaston, the Owl & Turtle in Camden and the Jackson Memorial Library in Tenants Harbor. For more information, call Trekkers at 594-5095 or visit trekkers.org.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.