Proud To Support The School of Environmental Studies

Bob Haider – Chair

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.

Melissa Thone, '01 – Vice-Chair

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.

Jennifer Hanson, '97 – Secretary

Jennifer Hanson (Harrison) is a 1997 graduate of the School of Environmental Studies. With 10+ years of fundraising experience, Jennifer is currently employed as a Major Gifts Officer at the Animal Humane Society (AHS). 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 with an emphasis on Advertising 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 professional career.

When Jennifer is not working, she can generally be found playing with her Black Lab, Sierra, or one of her four cats. She also volunteers her time with Leech Lake Legacy, an organization that helps rescue stray dogs and cats from the Leech Lake Reservation. She also enjoys running, cycling, arts & crafts, and a good cup of coffee.

Mary Schrader – Treasurer

Mary has been an SESEF board member since 2009 and is currently the SESEF Treasurer. 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.

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.

Michael Barnes – Board Member

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.

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. 

Wendy Heath, '09 – Board Member

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.

Kathy Kline – Faculty Representative

Kathy joined the Gold House teaching team in 2014.  Before becoming a teacher, Kathy was a lawyer and business professional for more than 20 years.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from Northern Michigan University, received her Juris Doctor with highest honors from Hamline University School of Law, and will add a Master of Arts in Teaching from Hamline University to her diploma collection in 2015.  Having grown up as an Army brat (which she assures us is a proud moniker), Kathy relates strongly to students who have not lived in the same place their whole lives—which she notes is an increasing trend in District 196.  She believes that modeling respect for those with whom we disagree is one of the most important things she can share with students.

Ross Lawrence, '00 – Board Member

Ross is a year 2000 graduate of the School of Environmental Studies. Ross holds a Bachelor of Science from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Juris Doctor from Hamline University School of Law. He decided to join the SESEF board so that he could give back to the school that planted the seeds for his successful career journey. Currently an attorney at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP, Ross enjoys keeping active with community involvement and any outdoor activity. Favorites are cross-country skiing and frequent bouts of fetch with his whippet, Sir Francis Drake.

Steve Mesmer – Board Member

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.

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

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!

Sheila Burns Zats – Board Member

Sheila joined the Board in 2014 when inspired by the excitement her daughter had for SES.  With prior experience as a liberal arts college career and admissions counselor, Sheila sees the value of experiential learning and innovative teaching which SES offers in preparing students for college, careers and life. 

Sheila has spent most of her career in sales & marketing within the travel industry working with MLT Vacations, Northwest WorldVacations, National Car Rental and helping to grow the family business, Village Travel Services.  Also, as a health & wellness advocate, she works as a Demonstration Manager of organic skincare and nutritional supplements at natural food stores.

Sheila enjoys yoga, skiing, cooking, traveling with family, volunteering and watching the sunset over a lake. 


Joni Burge – Board Member

[Bio to come...] 

Alana Pixler – Board Member

[Bio to come...] 

Kris Russell – Board Member

[Bio to come...] 

Amy Simon – Board Member

[Bio to come...]