A number of Northern students and alumni have been pursuing interesting endeavors, and recently NMU’s Marketing and Communications Department has been helping these individuals promote themselves and the university as part of the newly-created “NMU Adventure Team.”
The department helps team members to improve their personal branding in order to market themselves, attract sponsors, and to achieve their goals. Derek Hall, assistant vice president of university marketing and communications, manages the Adventure Team. The idea for the project began in fall 2016, he said.
“In all the marketing efforts, we’re looking at telling stories about NMU students and grads,” Hall explained. “In our branding core, we try to tell stories related to NMU being a great environment and adventure in education. So with that core, we thought it’d be cool to put together this team and recognize students and alums doing cool things.”
Members of the NMU Adventure Team include: Liza Dietzen, a sled dog musher who has run in the Seney 300 and U.P. 200 races and who aspires someday to compete in the Iditarod race in Alaska; Brooke Crull, who was once on the NMU track and field team but is now training and hopes to qualify for the Olympics to be a racer on the USA Skeleton Team; and Bill Thompson, a co-owner of Down Wind Sports and an avid outdoorsman who enjoys backpacking and ice climbing.
Current NMU students Dylan Gonda, Olivia Walcott and Ryan Watling who biked the 1,400-mile journey around Lake Superior earlier this summer in their mission “Great Lakes, Great Stories,” are also members of the Adventure Team. The students’ goal was to circumnavigate the lake and to meet locals along the way, interviewing them and hearing about their lives along the lakeshore.
NMU provided sound recording equipment to these cyclists, so they could better document these interviews, Hall said.
“They wanted to collect stories, and in exchange we get to tell their stories to future students and alumni,” Hall added. “It’s not straight-up advertising or admissions type work, but it’s trying to tell their stories and attract the attention of future students.”
NMU gives members Adventure Team patches, vehicle stickers and certificates that display, “For your quest to escape the ordinary and represent what it means to be a Wildcat.”
The newest members of the Adventure Team are alumni Austin Fogt, Hanna Derby and Gordon Mortensen, who will participate this summer in the Mongol Rally, a 10,000-mile car ride charity fundraiser across Europe and Asia. Hall organized a photo shoot for the group and had them brainstorm and choose their group name “The Yooper Troopers.”
“I think it’s a great program that shows Northern continues to support their students even after they graduate,” Fogt said.
A design intern in the marketing department made the team a Yooper Trooper logo and helped develop them a pitch packet to better explain to potential sponsors who they are, what they’re doing, and why.
For the intern, the project was a new challenge and also a good opportunity to advance her
“It was my first time doing one of those, but overall I think it turned out well,” senior graphic communications major Taeler Aspenleiter said. “This is a big portfolio piece for me to be able to show that I can do more than just design—I can do marketing as well. To enter the job market and be able to add this to my portfolio, it makes me more valuable as a designer.”
Hall said he is always looking for people to add to the Adventure Team.
“Some people say, ‘What’s the criteria for making it on the team?’ Well, do something cool,” Hall said with a laugh. “And let us team up with you.”