As a folk singer/songwriter in his spare time, Dan Truckey (Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center) would probably agree that the most poignant lyrics are those that reflect personal experiences, observations and emotions. So one phrase he wouldn’t likely pen himself – even if Sam Cooke hadn’t already beat him to it – is that opening line of Wonderful World: “Don’t know much about history.”
Truckey knows more than most people about history; in fact, the NMU alumnus has turned it into a career. He was hired in July 2007 as director of the U.P. Heritage Center.
Located in Gries Hall, the center seeks to cover the unique ethnic, cultural, religious, industrial and educational heritage of the Upper Peninsula. It’s a daunting challenge, but one Truckey eagerly embraces.
“We have an opportunity to present historical elements that haven’t been told yet or explored as far in depth as they could be,” he said. “I envision the center as a gallery, repository and public gathering space that also offers educational programs and professional development opportunities. Community outreach will be an essential component. I’ve been asked, ‘Does the U.P. really need another museum?’ The center will not attempt to supersede county historical societies and other facilities, but it will complement them through its broader mission.”
Dan grew up in both the Lower and Upper Peninsula and enrolled in Northern’s political science program in the late '80s with the goal of becoming a lawyer, but found the history of politics—not the process itself—most appealing. “That’s when I began to gravitate toward history as a major. My parents had instilled in me a love of history at a young age with trips to Washington, D.C., and southern battlefields. They also shared a lot of family legacies. I was interested in international and cultural history as a student. It wasn’t until I started working that I came to appreciate local and regional history.”
Before returning to his alma mater, Truckey served as executive director of the Grand Traverse Heritage Center in Traverse City. Previous employers included the Sioux City Public Museum in Iowa, Noah Webster House, the Connecticut Historical Society and the former Catskills Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Music is not his only spare-time pursuit. Truckey also enjoys downhill skiing, biking, hiking, playing tennis and spending time with his wife, Leigh Barry ('90)—whom he met at NMU—and their two kids, Thomas and Josie.
“It’s fantastic being back in Marquette,” he said. “There’s so much energy on a university campus and there’s a soft spot in my heart for NMU. Four of my siblings, both parents and a grandmother all graduated from here. … Starting a museum dedicated to the U.P. has been a dream of mine. And with my family’s connection to the region and to Northern, it couldn’t be more perfect.”
Collections Management Assistant
Samantha Pynnonen is a recent transplant to the Marquette and greater UP area originally heralding from the Tri-city (Michigan) area. Samantha has always had a passion for history and its preservation, which led her to get a Bachelors of Science from Central Michigan University where she specialized in Italian Renaissance History and Museum Studies, she later received her Master of Science in Information from the University of Michigan. Post-graduation, Samantha divided her attention between volunteering at local historical societies and museums in the Detroit area, helping them catalog their collections and making them more accessible for researchers. Greater accessibility of collections is her main goal and one that she hopes to continue here at NMU. In her free time, she is living her best UP life of kayaking, hiking, skiing, and fighting the snow from engulfing her house every winter.
Nathan Sarasin is a sophomore pursuing a degree in History at NMU with a concentration in Global History. Raised in Marquette, Michigan, he enjoys many of the outdoor activities around the area such as skiing and hiking, though he becomes less enthusiastic about winter every year. In his free time, Nathan enjoys spending time with friends, walking his dog, and reading.
Ariana Zimney is a sophomore pursuing a career in Fisheries and Wildlife Management in hopes of someday working for the Wisconsin or Michigan DNR. Here at NMU, she enjoys being a part of Cru, an on-campus ministry. Outside of school, Ariana enjoys hiking, camping, biking, hunting, reading, and exploring. Originally from Two Rivers, Wisconsin, she enjoys the abundance of adventure the Marquette area has to offer.
I'm Natalie White. My hometown is Grosse Pointe, Michigan, which is just outside of Detroit. I am a senior studying socio-cultural anthropology with a minor in religious studies, and I am graduating this December 2023. Outside of doing school work, I really enjoy cooking, and it is something I look forward to every day. I also love working out and running and having movie nights with my friends. One of the reasons why I chose to go to Northern was the easy access to many outdoor activities, like climbing, skiing, and hiking, and the small campus, and I am sad that I will be leaving it so soon, but equally as happy to have had such a great experience here.