Museum adds two new staff members

Besser Museum Executive Director Christine Witulski announces the hiring of two new staff members, Amanda Kucharek as education coordinator and Johnathan Winckowski as planetarium coordinator.

An Alpena native, Kucharek joins the museum after a five-year stay in the Upper Peninsula. She recalls her fond experiences as a child coming to the museum, including field trips with Besser Elementary School, dressing up for Fall Harvest Day with the Girl Scouts and attending artist workshops in the community classrooms.

She attended Alpena Community College, focusing on fine arts and anthropology. In 2016, she graduated from Northern Michigan University with an undergraduate degree and K-12 teaching certificate in art education, concentrating in ceramic arts. Following graduation, Kucharek worked as both a shop associate and metalsmith for U.P. artisan Beth Millner and as an educator with the Liberty Children’s Art Project.

Kucharek said she is proud to be joining the museum’s staff, and is looking forward to learning more and engaging with the community in the years to come.

Winckowski joined the staff in July. He and his wife, Haley Gardner, moved to Alpena from Toledo, Ohio. He is a graduate of the University of Toledo with a Bachelor’s Degree in Astrophysics. He is a certified astrophysicist.

While at the university, Winckowski was employed to operate the college’s planetarium Spitz equipment. Before studying astrophysics, he spent four years in the United States Marine Corp and was stationed in Quantico, Va.

“I hope to bring my skills and experiences to full use at Besser Museum, and I look forward to serving the community,” Winckowski said.