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Discovery Discovery November 2001
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Research Roundup
Work and family
Baby Family-friendly work policies such as flexible schedules and working from home typically don't cost the company anything and can do a lot to attract and retain good employees. Dan Moshavi, an MSU assistant professor of management, wanted to see what effect family ownership has on whether small businesses adopt work/family practices. He surveyed 137 small businesses (500 or fewer employees) in Montana and four neighboring states. He found that family-owned businesses were less likely than non-family owned companies to adopt family-friendly policies. One explanation is that family-owned companies tend to treat all their employees like family and may not see the need to implement formal employee policies. Moshavi will talk about his study at a Southern Management Association meeting in New Orleans this month.

Weed walkers
Trying to inventory weeds in remote areas is a challenge, says Bruce Maxwell, an MSU agroecologist. To find the best method, Maxwell, Lisa Rew and other MSU faculty are working with Yellowstone National Park. Rew oversaw three crews of MSU students this summer. The crews inventoried weeds in part of the park's northern range, looking for nonnative species within two kilometers of established roads and trails. The theory was that most weeds are introduced by human activity. The study will continue, but researchers were surprised to find that some weeds decline away from roads and trails, but others do not. Natural disturbances can be as conducive to weeds as human disturbances, Maxwell said. Park archives reveal, too, that rangers in the past probably planted some nonnative species.

Have fire, will travel
Fire Truck In a large state like Montana, it's expensive for firefighters to travel to training centers. So the state's Fire Services Training School (FSTS), based in Great Falls and administered by the MSU Extension Service, brings the fire to the firefighters in tractor - trailers designed to simulate real-life disasters. One of the school's props is a traveling smoke maze for zero-visibility training; another simulates a burning home. One trailer demonstrates sprinkler systems, another offers training with flammable gases, and others are filled with rescue equipment. "Fire fighting is dirty, demanding, dangerous work," said FSTS director Butch Weedon. "It's not conducive to classroom settings." FSTS serves all of Montana's 10,000 firefighters, 96 percent of whom are volunteers.

Troops to teachers
Sgt. Granny Retired military personnel have many of the assets that make good teachers: maturity, "people" skills, real-world experiences and a retirement income. So why not harness those retiring troops to help address an expected teacher shortage in the U.S.? That's exactly the idea behind a 1994 Department of Defense program called Troops to Teachers. The program is just now getting started in Montana and adjoining states, said MSU education dean and regional director Greg Weisenstein. Most of the eligible troops already have college degrees but need to become certified to teach. The Montana program, at least to start, is geared toward recruiting military retirees, advising them on what they need for certification and offering them a placement service, Weisenstein said.

Art song
Art songs are a little more sophisticated and refined than popular songs, says Elizabeth Croy, professor of voice at MSU. They're usually poetry set to music and normally last three to six minutes. Croy heard one song, a mini-monologue, that lasted 40 minutes. To learn more about the contemporary American art song, Croy received an MSU Research and Creativity grant. She is seeking out major artists around the country to receive their views on art song techniques, interpretation and literature. She is trying to focus on works that may be unusual and relatively unknown. Croy has already made an art song CD with one musician from Minneapolis and hopes to collaborate with other pianists and vocalists.

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