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Memphis Community Schools grad documenting UP dog sled races

By McKenna Golat, Port Huron Times Herald,


A Memphis Community Schools alumna is showing off her photographer skills and love of animals in the Upper Peninsula this month.

Grace Cook will represent the students of Northern Michigan University on the UP200 Board of Directors. The UP200 is an annual dog sled race put on by the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association. As the university representative, Cook will facilitate conversations between the university and the event’s board of directors, get students involved and organize the volunteers.

“The board president had reached out to me and said there was an opening on the board and that they loved how I worked with them before,” Cook said.

The UP200 will take place from Feb. 16 to Feb. 20 in Marquette and consists of three races: the UP200 powered by NMU, The Midnight Run and the Jackpine 30. For more information on the UP200, visit .

Cook volunteered as a photographer for the 2021 race and said she enjoyed taking the photos. A self-described animal lover, she said she loved taking photos of the dogs, especially at the end of the race.

“The dogs would stop and rub their faces in the snow, so I have photos of that,” Cook said. “The pictures make me feel warm because they show the love between humans and animals.”

Cook thought she would only be taking photos in 2021, but it evolved into more. The board president, Darlene Walch, asked her to organize the other photographers and use her connections in the Northern Michigan University community to gather more volunteers.

“I took that on, and I had the opportunity to organize them, get in contact with my peers and other photographers,” Cook said.

Walch said Cook had stepped up when she was really needed during the 2021 race. She said Cook headed a photography crew of six to seven people, organized their schedules and made sure they had access to a secure website to upload the photos.

"We elected her because she was organized and personable," Walch said.

Walch said the races cover an expansive area of the Upper Peninsula during different times of day. She said Cook made sure the photographers knew where they were and what photos were needed.

Cook has familial connects to Northern Michigan University. Her sister attended and her grandparents were once professors. Cook studies elementary education and photography at Northern Michigan University.

As an education major, Cook will have to be a student teacher for her last semester. She said she doesn’t know where she will go yet, but she wants to come back downstate. One school district she is considering is Yale Public Schools because her sister also student taught there and had a good experience.

“You’re not allowed to student teach where you went to school,” Cook said. “Memphis can’t be an option, which is unfortunate because I love the teachers there.”

Cook will start student teaching in Jan. 2024.

Contact McKenna Golat at or (810) 292-0122.

This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: Memphis Community Schools grad documenting UP dog sled races

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