Staff, Faculty, & Team Members
Thomas Kenote Jr.
Thomas Kenote Jr. is a member of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and a descendant of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He currently serves as the Director at the College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute.
Kenote holds degrees in Environmental Policy (B.A.) from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a M.S. in Forest Ecology from the University of Minnesota. Kenote’s research is based in exploring the impacts of climate change on the phenology of forest understory plants on the Menominee Indian reservation. His research interests include tribal natural resources, tribal forestry, Indigenous ways of knowing, Indigenous phenology, climate change adaptation and mitigation, tribal capacity building. When Thomas is not working, he enjoys the outdoors, hiking, playing traditional lax and spending time with his family and 2 dogs, Gigi and Cante.
Rebecca Edler is the Sustainability Coordinator at the Sustainable Development Institute at the College of Menominee Nation. Working with recruitment, admissions, and advising at the College for 5 years before moving into this position, she is familiar with various aspects of higher education, primarily Student Services. Before working at the College, Rebecca was the director of the American Indian Center of the Fox Valley, a program of Goodwill Industries of Northeast Wisconsin. It was here that she worked with off-reservation American Indians and identified education, sustainability, and cultural knowledge, as means to improve the lives of American Indian families and communities. Rebecca brings her experience of working in research and development, to the Sustainable Development Institute as well as her passion to strengthen American Indian families.
Sustainability Education Coordinator
Manih Boyd, an enrolled Menominee Member, has worked at Sustainable Development Institution for the past four years but has been with the college since 2011. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration along with a certificate in Entrepreneur from College of Menominee Nation in 2015. She is responsible for developing, managing, and implementing education, outreach, and training programs with local youth. This is conducted through multicultural place-based learning. Through these programs, Ms. Boyd brings in the connection of traditional ecological knowledge and scientific ecological knowledge for participants to gain understanding of both concepts. As the Sustainable Education Coordinator, Ms. Boyd has been working to increase opportunities for native youth on sustainable leadership. She also works with undergraduate interns to assist them in gaining professional experiences in their educational fields of study.
Desirae Wilber is a member of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin and is also a wife and mother of four. She is a Haskell Indian Nations University alumnus graduating in 2010 with an Associates Degree of Arts in Liberal Studies. Since then, Desirae has also earned an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration while attending school at the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, WI. Currently, Desirae holds an administrative position at the Sustainable Development Institute and also has experience working in Finance as an Accounting Assistant. Desirae enjoys being active in her community, spending time with her family, and hopes to become a small business owner by starting a grant consulting business in the future.
Sustainable Agriculture Faculty
Frank Kutka is a plant breeder who is currently developing a Sustainable Agriculture degree program at the College of Menominee Nation. He grew up in southern Wisconsin, and eventually studied field biology, animal ecology, and corn breeding. Frank did agricultural field work and worked at a rifle range as a young man. He later worked for the University of Minnesota conducting surveys of crayfish, fish, and frogs, and also operated a small wildflower nursery before moving to upstate New York and then North Dakota. He was the assistant director of the Dickinson Research Extension Center there, coordinated the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, and also helped to coordinate the Farm Breeding Club for the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society. His teaching experiences include lab and discussion courses at Iowa State University, Cornell University, and Dickinson State University. Frank and his family currently live in southern Door County on a small farm.
Midwest Tribal Resilience Liaison
Sara Smith is a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and is the Midwest Tribal Resilience Liaison with the College of Menominee Nation - Sustainable Development Institute (CMN-SDI), in association with the Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (MW CASC).
As the liaison for the Midwest, she works on facilitating stronger relationships between Tribes, climate researchers, organizations, academic institutions, and the MW CASC. In addition, she works with Tribes to build capacity and provides support by helping identify gaps and assisting with climate resilience efforts.
Sara holds a Master of Science in Ecology from the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry and an undergraduate degree in Biology and First Nation Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
SDI Media Specialist
Nicholas Schwitzer was previously a long time Sustainable Development Institute intern who has now taken on a full time position at SDI.. Harnessing the skills learned as a member of the Sustainability Leadership Cohort (2013-2016) and as an intern in the Visualizing Forest Futures Project (2018-2020), Nick now works as the Media Specialist for the Institute. In this role, he manages SDI’s social media pages, creates exclusive video content for their YouTube page, and also live streams events for SDI and the College of Menominee Nation. Graduating from UW-Stout with a degree in Entertainment Design: Comics and Sequential Arts, Nick also designs posters for SDI events and creates art assets when needed. Currently, Nick also is using his comic making skills for SDI’s “Collaborating Our Model In Contemporary Sequential-arts (C.O.M.I.C.S.) Project”. Working with indigenous writer Justin Eagle Gauthier, the two aim to create a graphic novel based on the Menominee Theoretical Model of Sustainability. Nicholas, a proud first descendant of the Menominee Tribe, is excited to use the skills he learned from and outside SDI to help create material and media that benefits his tribal community.
Tatjana Farjadi is the current Americorps VISTA working at SDI. She completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Mary Washington in 2021 with a major in economics and a minor in social justice. Her interdisciplinary economic research is concentrated in various social issue areas including food accessibility, fashion and cultural appropriation, renewable energy, environmental justice, and dissecting development. Tatjana previously worked with the National Juvenile Justice Network as an intern in 2020 where she created and developed their mental health policy platform. The platform focused on impacted youth voices on various problems with mental health and youth facilities. Tatjana also worked as a team member for the Social Good Lab where she helped develop a college-specific educational platform on domestic poverty in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She also volunteered with the Food and Water Watch in Fairfax and Fredericksburg, Virginia, bringing more college students’ attention to fracking and carbon emissions in local areas.
Dulce Maria Moeller works part-time as an assistant coordinator in the agriculture field with Dr. Frank Kutka. Her primary goals are to help Indigenous people with sustainable agriculture and local garden, and natural food. Dulce is a descendant of the Mixtec and Hopi and practices the indigenous medicines of her great-grandmother. Dulce is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Associate in Natural Resources at the College of Menominee Nation. Dulce previously worked with an Indigenous cooperative and corporation and earned a master's degree in Mexico.
Dr. Kate Flick is a faculty member at the College of Menominee Nation in Geoscience. She focuses on Place-based and Indigenous pedagogy in STEAM-fields (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). She has a PhD in Natural Resource Science and Management (University of Minnesota), an International Master of Science in Forest Ecology and Management (University of Freiburg in Germany), and a Bachelor of Science in Community and Environmental Sociology (University of Wisconsin). Dr. Flick loves exposing students to experiential and place-based learning opportunities that integrate arts into STEM. She hails from a smalltown in Wisconsin and grew up next to the Tomorrow River as well as many lakes that she likes swimming across, sometimes meeting a loon family in the middle.
If you or your organization are interested in working with the Sustainable Development Institute, or you would like more information, please contact:
Phone: 715-799-6226 ext. 3041
Phone: 715-799-6226 ext. 3043
Sustainability Education Coordinator
Phone: 715-799-6226 ext.3243
College of Menominee Nation
Sustainable Development Insititute
PO Box 1179
Keshena, WI 54135