MSU Alumni team up to build local ‘green’ home

By DAVID HOY/Montana State News

Two Montana State University graduates have teamed up to bring sustainability like never before to a home in Bozeman.

Several years ago Bill Hoy and Kathleen Saylor, North American CEO of REHAU, a German based sustainable building technologies firm, met through mutual friends. After realizing they both graduated from MSU, they began to brainstorm about possible funding for a project Hoy was working on in Bozeman.

Several years later the REHAU Montana Eco Smart project was up and running.

The two main components of the house project are geothermal ground loop exchange and radiant heating and cooling.

The geothermal ground loop exchange involves five wells drilled in the back yard of the house. Several of the wells reach depths of 300 feet. Essentially utilizing the Earth’s constant 50 degree temperature, water is pumped through tubes located in the floor, ceiling and walls throughout the house.

This base temperature saves costs on heating and air conditioning compared to typical homes. According to REHAU’s website,, “This residential construction and research project aims to expand the industry’s body of knowledge regarding environmental and human sustainability.”

The research is being done by the Creative Research Lab (CRLab) of MSU, headed by Terry Beaubois. The leading team of researchers are MSU students. Architecture and engineering students have been involved with the project since the initial design and will continue to monitor the house for three years after its completion.

Through the CRLab on campus, over 300 sensors will be examined to determine the most efficient use of systems involved in the project.

Completion of the house is projected for April. To learn more about the project and its additional sponsors, visit the projects website at

Edited by Dezri Rochin.

Four elements of hip-hop come together in the name of MLK

By TRISTAN ABBOTT/Montana State News

The four elements of hip-hop were brought together last Sunday night in an event that paid homage to Martin Luther King Jr. With the collective goal of bringing people together, artists from each sector of hip hop – DJs, break dancers, MCs or rappers, and graffiti artists – put their skills on display.

The festivities included a break dancing competition with a local Bozeman dance crew putting their best feet forward against a similar crew from Missoula.

Portions of the contest were judged by MC Abstract Rude, who also performed a feature set at the show. The beats used for the 16-bar rap competition were submitted by local artists and then chosen by Rude, which added to the sense of community involvement and unification throughout the show. Before his set, Rude emphasized the importance of these events, saying that they provide a positive outlet for young people everywhere.

Josh Perkins of Justus Records, who organized the event, said that there was a dual goal of bringing people together while educating them at the same time. Perkins is an MSU grad who played on the MSU football team and understands the importance of education.

This was seen in both the DJ and graffiti sections, where artists demonstrated different methods as well as gave a brief history of their art. By presenting the history of these arts, the event sought to change common misconceptions of hip hop, such as challenging the idea that graffiti artists are simply vandals. Instead, it presented them as artists who use a variety of mediums.

The final segment was a 16-bar rap off that included local and out-of-town rappers, who had to write original verses to themes such as, “How do you live the dream that MLK Jr. had?”

There were a variety of answers to that question presented at the event. “It’s all about bringing people together with music,” said artist Moxie Hub, who came from out of town for the event, “ not looking at race or color, just bringing everybody together.

Edited by Riley Pittenger 

Trainers and dogs bond at agility competition


When young Sadey was found in a dumpster at three weeks of age, nobody expected her to become anything more than just another rescue pet. Now, at 10 years of age and with two titanium knees, Sadey is running competitively in dog agility and has never looked back.

The Galloping Dog Agility and Flyball Club hosted a dog agility event at at the Circle L Arena this past weekend that offered lively canines and their trainers the chance to compete in this increasingly popular sport.

Catherine LeCours, Sadey’s owner, was hooked on agility after watching a demonstration in her local obedience class. “I signed up for a few lessons and told my husband that I wasn’t planning on competing. It was just something fun to do,” LeCours said. After the second class however, “I was building my own equipment in my back yard.”

Nearly six years later, LeCours is running competitively with Sadey and her border collie Terra in all upper elite levels offered by the North American Dog Agility Council and has competed in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge where she finished second in the national finals.

“Any dog can do it,” says LeCours, who took any chance she could this weekend to cheer on her fellow trainers and their varied breeds of dogs.

Mark Wissinger and his wife Joni got started when they adopted a timid springer spaniel from their local humane society. Dog agility gave their new addition “self confidence,” and the couple has found that training has “established a better bond with their dogs.”

“Dog agility is a lot harder than people think,” said Joni Wissinger. “It’s a real science, and never boring.”

Though the commands these trainers use vary from the traditional “sit” and “stay,” the foundation for the more complex maneuvers stem from basic obedience.

Stefanie Herrera, who got started in agility from local 4-H, has worked many hours with her border collie RJ and says agility has really changed the way he acts. “He was all over the place when I first got him” says Herrera, but through positive training and persistence she has guided him successfully through the obstacle course filled with tunnels, weaves and hoops.

“I love the communal feeling of love for the dogs,” continues Herrera, and that is clear when the crowd erupts when every dog finishes the course no matter how well they did.

“We come out here for the love of the dog,” said Mark Wissinger. And dog agility has transformed the connection between humans and canines through more than just a leash in the hand.

Edited by Meghan O’Neal

Volunteers sought to mentor school kids

By SUSAN ANDRUS/Montana State News

Each school year the Child Advancement Project (CAP) tries to match 550 volunteer mentors with Bozeman children, and they are just 40 nurturing and kind-hearted volunteers shy of their goal this year, according to CAP coordinator Robin Kelley.

CAP was started in 1989 and enlists community volunteers to provide a little extra scholastic support for Bozeman kids grades K-12. The volunteer mentors meet with the children in their schools for an hour a week; about 40 per cent of those mentors are MSU students.

Why might an MSU student choose to squeeze another hour out of their schedule each week?

“First of all,” says Kelley, “it looks great on a resume.” But she adds that MSU students have often shared that, even with their hectic schedules they, “walk away feeling like they’ve done something special with their week.”

There are no specific qualifications for being a CAP mentor, but an FBI background check and two references are required. Education majors, who must have a background check as part of their program, will not need to submit to another check, because the education department shares that information with CAP.

Kelley said anyone can volunteer to mentor a child. “Each personality of each mentor is different and each personality of each student is different.” she says. New mentors will meet with a coordinator for a half hour interview that will help the coordinator match that mentor to a child.

CAP mentors are asked to commit to at least a full school year and it is preferred that mentors starting during spring semester commit to the end of the following school year. Mentors, however, are not required to meet with students during summer or any other MSU breaks.

More information and an online registration form can be found at or by calling (406) 585-7929. 

Edited by Trudi Fisher

Parking makes MSU students blue and cold

BRIANNA SCHUTZ/Montana State News

Enrollment is spiking at Montana State University, just as it is on many campuses around the nation. But the availability of parking is not keeping up with that enrollment growth. Students often express their inability to find spots if they do not get to campus before 8 a.m. classes begin.

MSU freshman Hannah Prester expressed her frustration by saying, “I paid 159 dollars for a parking permit and still drove around parking lots for over 15 minutes searching for a spot which then resulted in me being late to class and forced to sit on a concrete floor for its entirety because the class has been allowed to be overenrolled.”

Hannah is not alone in her concerns about our parking issue.

When surveyed about parking, students had a lot of suggestions and opinions on our parking situation. Many students that have purchased premium parking permits are often being forced to park in other lots or spend 15 plus minutes searching for spots, occasionally resulting in being late for class.  Parking garages, underground parking garages, or a separate long term parking lot for residence hall students were all suggestions to help alleviate the parking problem.

Building a parking garage or additional lots may not be an immediate solution. MSU and Bozeman could consider some options that other schools of our size have begun using. The University of Montana, Northern Arizona University, and Weber State all have very efficient bus systems set in place. When asked about the buses used in Missoula to get from various locations in town to the campus Montana student, Kylee Watkins said, “Oh yeah, our bus is great. They pretty much run all the time, you don’t really have to wait very long and they take you all over. It’s definitely a reliable way to get around.”

University of Montana has a parking permit with a reduced price that promotes car pooling, an option to help have less cars on campus for a discounted student price.

Edited by Jesse Powell.

Some students object to grad student-taught classes

By MATTHEW YORK/Montana State News

Eighty percent of Montana State University students object to taking classes taught by graduate students. According to a poll conducted by the Montana State News Group, students consider classes taught by teaching assistants (TAs) to be inferior to those taught by professors.

“It’s stupid,” one student, who declined to identify himself, said. “We’re paying thousands of dollars a semester and being taught by, essentially, ourselves.”

The study’s participants feel short-changed by the practice, which they feel provides an “under-whelming education,” according to one student. MSU offers a many lecture classes, a significant number of which are accompanied by recitations that are  taught by TAs. Teaching Assistants are usually recent graduates for that particular field of study and generally work closely with the professors.

Recitations are classes that meet in addition to the regular lecture times and are designed to augment the curriculum. Large professor-lead lectures may reach several hundred students at a time, while the TA lead recitations are usually much smaller. Recitations account for a large chunk of the grade, which means TA’s are affecting a student’s education just as much as the full-time professor.

Professors have years of teaching experience and students feel this should be a part of their education. “A lot of times, TA’s are grading papers we turn in for the professor him [or her] self,” said Victoria Neman, a student at MSU.

With such a high demand for some classes, large universities, such as MSU, rely on the TA’s to help keep classes available to meet the students’ needs.

“Perhaps if those classes were discounted, or professors would check in on the recitations, it’d feel a bit better,” offered one student. “It’s like paying for two patties and only getting one.”

Edited by Becky Hattersley

Others give TAs high marks

By ANGIE FORD/Montana State News

While some students object to classes taught by graduate teaching assistants, others give TAs high marks.

Montana State University uses professors, adjuncts, and graduate teaching assistants (GTA’s) to teach their first year composition courses (Writing 101). Montana State News spoke with MSU undergrads—and their GTA’s—to see how they felt about the issue: Does lack of teaching experience necessarily equate to a lack of quality in the classroom?

Montana State University uses professors, adjuncts, and graduate teaching assistants (GTA’s) to teach their first year composition courses (Writing 101). Montana State News spoke with MSU undergrads—and their GTA’s—to see how they felt about the issue at hand.

The majority of students questioned around campus didn’t remember if their Writing 101 courses had been taught by GTA’s or not—what they remembered more was whether the class has helped them in their college writing efforts since, and what kind of a person their instructor was.

Justin Luke Provance, a sophomore double majoring in Spanish and Health Enhancement, said that he learned a lot in his first writing class. When asked, how the class helped him in his courses since, Provance replied, “I’ve learned my writing style, how to identify my audience, and tailor my writing to a specific audience, and I’ve gained a lot of confidence.”

Provance said that he didn’t know the difference between GTAs, adjuncts and professors when he took his class, but in retrospect, he thought the fact that GTA’s are students as well as teachers is a plus.

“I actually feel like they would be better at teaching since they’re also in the students’ shoes,” he said.

GTA’s agreed that they’ve been handed a challenge when it comes to stepping into a classroom with very little training, but they said that their dual role as students and teachers is an opportunity to build a greater rapport with their students.

Miles Nolte, second year GTA, noted, “I think GTA’s can use that to their advantage if they’re aware of the possibility of building that kind of ethos. I absolutely cultivate that, because I recognize it can be an advantage … if you choose to use that as a device for engaging your students.”

Edited by Matt Rule.

Big Sky ski conditions top those around the region, nation

By SAM BROWN/Montana State News

This winter, Bozeman has seen a dramatic decrease in snowfall and overall winter conditions. Nearby ski resorts like Bridger Bowl have been struggling due to the lack of snow coverage for their slopes.

Conditions up the canyon in Big Sky, however, are significantly different. Although Big Sky Ski Resort has had a slow start to their ski season many people don’t realize just how good the conditions are compared to other resorts.

In other areas of the United States ski resorts are seeing much worse.  With the exception of Alaska and New Mexico, many ski resorts are have recorded the worst pre-season conditions they have seen in a long time.

Many ski resorts reported the driest December in history; the first week of January 1,500 ski resorts broke record temperature highs.

Bachelor Ski Resort in Oregon was forced to shut down ski operations on weekdays due to increased rainfall and deteriorating ski conditions.

Vail Ski Resort, the biggest ski area in Colorado, is only running six of its 31 lifts.  Squaw Valley ski resort in California, notorious for its 700 inches of snowfall received last year are struggling with a 12-inch base and only a few runs open.

Big Sky Resort has 95 percent of its terrain open and reports a solid base of 35 inches.

Although considerably less compared to La Nina’s strong influence last year bringing record amounts of early season snowfall to Big Sky, conditions are better then most parts of the United States. The skiing is so good that Big Sky opened its lifts to all Epic Ski Pass holders in Colorado.

An Epic Ski Pass is a season pass that is used at seven different resorts in Colorado. Unfortunately those seven resorts cannot satisfy the skiers begging to make some quality turns.

With Big Sky’s famous tram, all of their lifts open, 3,622 acres of terrain and a consistent snowpack, it is no wonder they have seen an increase in visitors using their Epic Pass.

Although conditions might not be ideal, skiing is Big Sky is about as good as it gets this year.

This story was edited by Mary Koppy.

Most local students spring break party poopers

By RANDI TYLER/Montana State News

Most Montana State University students don’t plan the party-filled, tropical vacation we usually associate with spring break.

Seventy-eight percent of students responding to a straw poll plan to travel outside of Bozeman, with 34 percent staying within the borders of Montana and 44 percent traveling out of state. Of the 34 percent staying in Montana, all of them are going home – 18 percent to Great Falls and 12 percent to Billings.

Only 40 percent of students plan to do some sort of specific outdoor activity, according to a survey done on 47 students at Montana State University. These activities include skiing and snowboarding, hunting and fishing, biking, climbing and hiking.

What other plans do they have?

Of the 47 asked, 11 plan to work throughout their spring holiday. Twelve students plan to visit family and friends and three students plan to do homework, although there will more than likely be more than three forced to do school work during the break.

But all are not drudges. Seven students said they plan to drink and party, a number that will likely rise when vacation time draws nearer.

Where are the out-of-state travelers going? A warm climate was the most obvious choice for some students with places like California preferred by just 10 percent vote and Cabo San Lucas, where just 6 percent of the students plan on going. Ten percent of the students said they will be going to Washington state, 8 percent said Oregon, and 6 percent said Las Vegas.

One thing’s for certain: All of the students polled will be looking forward to a break from classes and a chance to enjoy the (hopefully) nice weather wherever their travels take them.

Edited by Jodi Wilson.

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