Our Mission

We strive to facilitate learning through time spent in awe and wonder, and to inspire people to investigate the many facets of the world around them.

Memberships

From a quick visit to enjoy the cafe area and free wifi, to meandering through the gift shop, to a full day of interacting with the exhibits, there are many options available to satisfy different commitments and budgets.

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Volunteering

Can you start a conversation with anyone? Do you like to take little ideas and guide ways to make them come true? Do you like to create and build? We would love it if you would help us aim high for our community!

Get plugged in today!

What we’re about

COGnition is museum style center, full of interactive exhibits that offer hands-on learning opportunities, while being fun and interesting for kids of all ages. This is a place where families can come make memories, generations can connect over shared discoveries and experience, and our youth can see horizons of interest and possibility open before them. May the community be empowered, guests be enlightened, and minds of all ages be challenged and inspired! It may be a small start, but this is just the beginning!

Each person is valuable and has unique perspective. Staff, volunteers and customers will all be treated with respect, honesty and appreciation.
Learning should be fun and breathe new life.
COGnition’s exhibits, atmosphere, and play will encourage creativity.
COGnition desires opportunities for growth and positive change.

Discovery, exploration, and finding knowledge will drive us.
Families of all shapes and sizes are life companions to explore, learn, and play with.
COGnition was founded on the perception of God’s hand all around us, and the center will strive to highlight the awe and majesty of how intricate the workings of creation are, no matter where people are coming from or what they believe.

Bringing Interactive Discovery and Innovative Inspiration to Northern Michigan

COGNiTiON Founders and Board

Kimmee Wenkel

Executive Director and Co-founder


Kimberlee has a BA in Family Life Education, college and post graduate experience in fine art, over five years working for a Nonprofit, five years of experience managing volunteers, and the life experience of being the mother of four elementary school age children living in Beulah. Her career includes eight years of child education experience through helping with junior and senior high youth groups and teaching elementary grades at Bay Point Community Church. Through this volunteer involvement and Children’s Ministry position and she has gleaned from the experiences of speaking and organizing for large groups, programing small group activities, leading a team of volunteers, retreat and day camp involvement, and being an integral part of hands-on learning. Kimberlee has also gained invaluable experience and perspective from multiple human service missions within the states as well as two international projects. She is currently involved in the community as a coach for 4-H youth soccer (4 yrs.) and has coached Odyssey of the Mind for the past two years and maintains a level of adventure as she and her husband have a small backyard farm and love to camp, hike, and spend long days roaming the local beaches.

Laura Stanwick

Assistant Executive Director and Co-Founder


Laura’s career, through her BS in Occupational Therapy (using hands-on activities to facilitate and enhance function) brings multiple job experiences; from working in a private psychiatric facility and school-based POHI program, to multiple years working with Developmentally Disabled school-age and adult populations. She served on the Michigan Occupational Therapy Board of Management for many years and Chaired District OT organizations in the North Metro Detroit area and then in Northwestern Lower Michigan. Later, her career took a dramatic shift to hospital-based outpatient Hand Therapy, and then expanded during her last 10 years of practice at Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital to include general outpatient rehab and treatment of long term care residents. Post graduate work also includes courses in graphic art and design at Northwestern Michigan College, and marketing duties for a small company in Traverse City for several years. Laura is a mother of 2, grandmother of 6, and lives with her husband Roger, in Frankfort.

Kimberlee Wenkel

Executive Director and Co-founder


Kimberlee has a BA in Family Life Education, college and post graduate experience in fine art, over five years working for a Nonprofit, five years of experience managing volunteers, and the life experience of being the mother of four elementary school age children living in Beulah. Her career includes eight years of child education experience through helping with junior and senior high youth groups and teaching elementary grades at Bay Point Community Church. Through this volunteer involvement and Children’s Ministry position and she has gleaned from the experiences of speaking and organizing for large groups, programing small group activities, leading a team of volunteers, retreat and day camp involvement, and being an integral part of hands-on learning. Kimberlee has also gained invaluable experience and perspective from multiple human service missions within the states as well as two international projects. She is currently involved in the community as a coach for 4-H youth soccer (4 yrs.) and has coached Odyssey of the Mind for the past two years and maintains a level of adventure as she and her husband have a small backyard farm and love to camp, hike, and spend long days roaming the local beaches.

Laura Stanwick

Assistant Excutive Director and Co-Founder

Laura’s career, through her BS in Occupational Therapy (using hands-on activities to facilitate and enhance function) brings multiple job experiences; from working in a private psychiatric facility and school-based POHI program, to multiple years working with Developmentally Disabled school-age and adult populations. She served on the Michigan Occupational Therapy Board of Management for many years and Chaired District OT organizations in the North Metro Detroit area and then in Northwestern Lower Michigan. Later, her career took a dramatic shift to hospital-based outpatient Hand Therapy, and then expanded during her last 10 years of practice at Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital to include general outpatient rehab and treatment of long term care residents. Post graduate work also includes courses in graphic art and design at Northwestern Michigan College, and marketing duties for a small company in Traverse City for several years. Laura is a mother of 2, grandmother of 6, and lives with her husband Roger, in Frankfort.

Board of COGNiTiON

Jeanna Michalek

Board President

Jeanna earned her Bachelor of Arts in education focusing in secondary education with a focus in English and Communications/Theater. Following her time at Saginaw Valley State University, she spent time working for the Girl Scouts, Sylvan Learning Center, the Boy Scouts of America, Newton’s Road, and is currently working for Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy. Her past board involvement includes the Thumb Area Center for the Arts, Caro, MI. Her depth of nonprofit knowledge has come from the professional and volunteer experience and she is still heavily involved with 4-H, the Old Town Playhouse, Michigan Interscholastic Horsemans Association, and the 4 Season Equine Association. Jeanna and Nick reside in Interlochen at Circle M Acres with their horses, chickens, dog, and other animals.

Carrie Wilhelm

BOARD VICE PRESIDENT

Carrie Wilhelm, her husband Jack, and her three amazing kids (daughter, age 11, and two sons ages 8 and 6) have called Beulah home for the past three years. Huge supporters and members of COGNiTiON since the very beginning, it only seemed natural for Carrie to take a position on the board! In addition to serving on the board at COGNiTiON, Carrie is also the current Vice President of the Crystal Lake Elementary PTC, and has a Bachelors in psychology with a minor in child development from ASU.

Aaron Harris

Board Secretary

Coming soon!

Casey Mckenzie

BOARD MEMBER

Casey Mckenzie graduated from Western Michigan University with her Bachelors in Family and Consumer Sciences. Casey currently works at Storm Cloud Brewery and is the Volunteer Coordinator for Cognition. She’s been on the board since January 2018 and lives in Beulah with her partner Tim Nolan; their two rad, weird, kind kids, Seamus and Ursula; one dog; 7 hens; and 20,000 bees. Chocolate is her favorite food group.

Julie Williams

Board Member

Julie Williams has been a proud member of the Cognition board since spring 2019. As a child of both an art and a science teacher, Julie has always valued hands-on, creative learning and instilled that same love for knowledge in her three children. Julie was born in Frankfort, the former co-owner of Fixit Hardware on Main Street with her husband Burt, and then a REALTOR for the past 11 years. She now heads up the RE/MAX Bayshore Frankfort office with her broker-of-record husband Burt Williams. Julie was the selling agent for the building where the new Cognition space will be located and convinced her seller to donate the space to Cognition after she became familiar with the mission and experiences provided by this amazing non-profit. She believed so deeply in what Cognition could offer to the community that she even donated her commission earnings back to the organization. She now helps with fundraising, event planning and growth strategy and is looking forward to a bright and dynamic future for Cognition.

Rich Brauer

Board Member

Rich Brauer is president of Brauer Productions, Inc., an independent film and video production company he founded in 1977 after graduating with a B.A. in Motion Picture Production and Undersea Photographic Technology from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA.

After many years of making films for a wide variety of clients, Brauer received the Michigan Filmmaker of the Year award at the 2009 Traverse City Film Festival, presented by filmmaker Michael Moore. Past recipients have been actor Jeff Daniels, writer Kurt Luedtke, and actress Christine Lahti.

Brauer has directed 8 feature films and hundreds of corporate, non-profit, educational and commercial projects. He works as a Director/DP/ and enjoys supporting independent filmmakers. He always has films in development.

He co-founded the Maritime Heritage Alliance in 1982 and the Inland Seas Education Association in 1989.

He has three adult children and 5 grandkids and lives on an old fruit farm on Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City, Michigan.

Jason Pine

Board Member

Over the course of his career, J. Pine has become a recognized leader in play-based learning. He hosts a national conference series, is a sought after speaker, soon to be author and founder of Professor Qwbli’s. After founding the company in 2009 and running its national programs from Chicago and Southern California, Mr. Pine returned to his hometown in 2015 of Traverse City to open the company’s first brick & mortar.

J. Pine has over 25 years of educational experience, including classroom experience as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools, 20+ years experience in after-school programming and extensive experience in curriculum development. He has a BS in Education and a Masters in Applied Professional Studies from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.

 
 

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