Proud To Support The School of Environmental Studies

 Wendy Heath, '09 – Chair 

Wendy graduated from SES in 2009 and joined the SESEF Board in 2015. During her studies at the University of Minnesota, Wendy traveled to Greece where she volunteered in the rehabilitation of loggerhead sea turtles. She graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and spent time working in environmental nonprofits where she combined her love of the environment with her passion for public policy. Wendy feels very fortunate to serve as a Board Member at the school that helped shape the way she views the world. She now scours the globe looking for adventure and gets hopelessly addicted to nerdy TV shows. She can be found reading, running, spending time with her family, playing with her dogs, or conversing about the mysteries of the universe with her closest friends.

Steve Mesmer – Vice Chair

Steve joined the SESEF board after his daughter enrolled in SES in 2013 and he saw first-hand the school’s innovative approach to education. With its strong focus on academic excellence and project-based learning, the SES program effectively gets students excited about learning and provides them with the critical skills they’ll need for college and career. Steve is thrilled about assisting SES achieve its goals.

With over 25 years as an educator, Steve cut his teeth as a middle and high school teacher, and has spent the majority of his career creating educational technology, curriculum, and assessments used by schools across the U.S. When not working, he can often be found wandering the trails of Lebanon Hills with his family, dogs, and camera.

Melissa Sather – Secretary

Bio coming soon...

Michael Barnes – Treasurer 

An SES graduate, Michael joined the board in 2015, when he saw an opportunity to give back to the place that changed his life and shaped his future. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Morris with a B.A. in Organizational Psychology and is currently a Ph.D student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in the Natural Resources Science & Management program. His research specializes in connecting individuals to the environment through the design of landscapes, which he arrived at after combining the unique background provided by SES and his experiences as an undergraduate in Psychology. 

When not conducting research and teaching, he enjoys scuba diving, hiking, and traveling anywhere that he hasn't been before.

Dan Bodette – Principal

Dr. Bodette has been the Principal of the School of Environmental Studies (SES) since its opening back in 1995.  SES is an optional high school that is thematically based and is located in the Twin Cities metro.  He has been a leader in education for 34 years, serving as a principal for 26 years and as a science teacher for eight years.  Mr. Bodette has ties to the international education community, having served as a science teacher in Venezuela and in Belgium.

Dr. Bodette received his Doctor of Education Degree (Ed.D.) from the University of Minnesota in 1998, a Master of Science Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1987, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point in 1980.

Dr. Bodette has presented at numerous national and international conferences about the unique and innovative programming that occurs at SES.  Thousands of educators have visited SES and have responded in a positive fashion to the curriculum, culture, and climate of the building.  The school has been recognized nationally for implementing the “breaking ranks” components to the school day, and was named a New American High School by the U.S. Department of Education in 1999.

Sarah Berger – Board Member

Sarah joined the Board after witnessing the amazing opportunity that was being offered to her daughter: inspiring, creative, rigorous learning in an amazing environment.  Now the parent of an SES graduate, Sarah continues to give her time and resources to ensure that SES remains a vibrant and vital school for other students.  Sarah is a major gifts officer for the Animal Humane Society and manages her family’s farm in Waseca County.  In addition to serving on the SESEF board, Sarah also serves on the board of Eureka Recycling.

Maggie Bierman – Board Member

Bio coming soon...

Dana Daniels – Board Member

Dana graduated from SES in 2009 and joined the SESEF Board in 2016. During her studies at Normandale Community College and Augsburg College, she realized the severity of the limited resources for service dogs for psychiatric disabilities. Dana then founded Aurum Canine Services, to help keep pet dogs in their home and place service dogs for those with invisible disabilities. She has been an active volunteer member or Bloomington Obedience Training Club for dog training and helps place wild Mustangs through North Dakota Badlands Horses in her spare time. She can be found if not training, then either reading or traveling.

Bob Haider – Board Member

Bob is a founding partner of the consulting firm, Split Rock Learning, LLC. With his partners, he designs, develops and facilitates sales and management training programs. Bob has spent the majority of his career in some aspect of retail training and development. While doing so, he has developed a passion for all aspects of learning. This passion carries over to the School of Environmental Studies. SES is special to him as they truly are on the cutting edge of learning.

Bob has two daughters; the oldest graduated from SES in the spring 2010 and is now a sophomore in college. Her time at SES served her very well and has made the transition to college life much easier and more successful. Bob's youngest daughter is now making her mark on SES as a junior.

In his spare time, Bob can be found reading, riding his bike, traveling with his family or volunteering in his local community of Northfield.

Jennifer Hanson, '97 – Board Member

Jennifer Harrison is a 1997 graduate of the School of Environmental Studies. With 10+ years of fundraising experience, Jennifer is currently employed as the Development and Communications Director at the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery. She has a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Hamline University and also holds the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) credential. In addition, Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of St. Thomas.

As part of the first graduating class (two years in attendance) of SES, Jennifer believes in the importance of upholding the traditions and unique attributes that set SES apart from other high schools. She was able to leave SES with the ability to think critically and strategically – a skill that helped to lay the foundation for a successful college experience and a flourishing professional career.

Alana Pixler – Board Member

Alana Pixler, a proud parent of a 2015 SES alumni student. Her daughter currently attends college at Beloit College in WI. A very SES-like institution of higher learning! Alana has worked for ISD 196 for 25 years and currently teaches Communications to hundreds of 8th grade students at Black Hawk Middle School. She is industrious and loves to work with teams who like to organize community events! Alana is a proud employee, parent, and community member of the ISD 196 district. #1 fan of SES!

Mary Schrader – Board Member

Mary has been an SESEF board member since 2009 and served as SESEF Treasurer from 2011-2016. She is the parent of two SES graduates; Class of 2011 and Class of 2013. Mary is a retired after a fulfilling 30 years in Law enforcement with the Minnesota State Patrol. She enjoys the behind the scenes involvement of assisting the SES Community. It has been an opportunity to meet other parents and the staff at SES. She is elated with the aptitude that the students at SES demonstrate. She feels the SESEF Board has made wise decisions that have provided funding to students and staff of SES for additional opportunities that only enriches the SES experience.

Chelsea Skog – Board Member

Bio coming soon...

Kevin Stanek – Board Member & Webmaster

Kevin Stanek is the proud father of an equally-proud 2005 graduate of SES. Out of gratitude to SES for its benefit to his daughter, Kevin started his involvement with SESEF when he volunteered to create a new website for the Foundation. Kevin's involvement with the Foundation grew to the point that he served as the chairperson from June 2007 through June 2010.

Kevin works with student and faculty grants, and is the webmaster of

Melissa Thone, '01 – Board Member

Melissa is a 2001 graduate of the School of Environmental Studies. She is a registered nurse with an additional five years of experience working in non-profit fundraising and event planning for both the National MS Society and the American Cancer Society. Melissa completed her nursing education at St. Catherine University, and she also holds a degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Melissa has served on the SESEF board since 2007. She feels that serving the School of Environmental Studies in this manner is the least she can do to give back to a school that has given her so much.

Melissa enjoys biking, reading, volunteering, and discovering the culinary treasures of her Minneapolis neighborhood. She loves to travel and hopes to set foot on all seven continents within her lifetime.

Jane Tunseth – Faculty Representative

Jane is proud to be one of the founding faculty of SES, which has been an amazing adventure! Over the past twenty years at SES, she has taught Environmental Studies in all four houses and has her fingerprints on a lot of interdisciplinary curriculum. She has taught AP English, Animal Behavior, and a variety of field studies.

Costa Rica is her soul place. She has led 433 SES students to Costa Rica on twenty field studies and a summer exchange. She feels blessed to have seen so many students have life-changing experiences on those journeys, and was delighted to see a dream come true when 14 Costa Rican students came to SES in April!

In addition to working on the SES-Costa Rica Youth Exchange Program, Jane is the creator and teacher of the SES Leadership Seminar, helping students develop leadership skills through service learning. She is also the SES Mentor Program Coordinator, connecting students with community professionals.

In her life outside of SES, she fosters leadership as the Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 510 in Eagan. But most importantly, she is the proud mom of two SES graduates who are carrying the SES vision into the world!