I'd say to put on a coat of "natural" (non-tinted) stain to bring out the grain and then give it at least three coats of a water-based, oil-modified polyurethane. You want the finish to be durable. I'd avoid working with oil-based polyurethane just because the fumes are so nasty, and at this time of year you don't want to be leaving windows open. The water-based stuff is a little more expensive, but much less toxic, and it dries a lot faster. Also, you can clean up with regular soap and water--no mineral spirits or anything. Make sure to sand lightly between coats.