The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 5, 2012

Our View: Prairie seed project offers growth

The Free Press

Thumbs up

To the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, volunteers and clients of Harry Meyering Center for their recent efforts to help restore native prairie grasses at Minneopa State Park.

The DNR organized a service project that will help them grow the native prairie at Minneopa. Volunteers simply had to separate the seeds from the chaff of prairie grasses recently harvested.

It's simple but time consuming work and the volunteers helped save the taxpayer expense in having the DNR do all the work or buy seeds, which can be range in cost anywhere from $2 to $100 an ounce.

Parents found it a worthwhile event for their young children giving them a chance to appreciate nature and have some fun at the same time.

The seed project benefits all taxpayers by enhancing nature at one of MinnesotaÕs finest state parks.

Feedback program improves classes

Thumbs up

To Minnesota State University and its Students Consulting on Teaching program for its willingness to have its instructors and professor consider critical feedback on their teaching methods.

The program is housed in MSU's Center for Excellence in Learning and is a refreshing approach to improving teaching through student feedback. Upperclassmen work in the program meeting with instructors on what they are looking for in terms of student criticism.

Key to the program is the critical feedback is given to the instructor during the course of the semester so teachers can improve their classes while they are still in session. End of quarter evaluations don't provide that immediate information that can improve the class right away.

It's always difficult to take criticism for whatever profession one might be in, so it's worth giving some feedback on this program. Great job.

Tough times for Minnesota Orchestra

Thumbs down

To the whole unfortunate situation surrounding the prestigious Minnesota Orchestra, the atmosphere of declining attendance, and the labor-management battle that is now going on that saps the energy and threatens the future of one of the state's treasures.

The Minnesota Orchestra has seen its prestige increased in recent years under conductor Osmo Vanska, but orchestra members have recently been asked to take a pay cut, trimming average salaries from $135,000 to $89,000. Both sides have good points to make. Orchestral members have earned their reputations and they fear that salary cuts will result in a talent loss. Management, citing tough times that include declining corporate and individual support, believe an adjustment is in order.

It's sad. The Minnesota Orchestra is on the rise, and competition is fierce for the best talent. Minnesotans, even if they're not regular listeners, should take a little time to ask themselves: How important is the Minnesota Orchestra to the quality of life here?

Encouraging job numbers

Thumbs up

To finally getting a cheery jobs report. It's been a while.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years.

Employers added 114,000 jobs in September and the July and August jobs numbers were adjusted up by 86,000.

The numbers aren't enough to bring the kind of sustained job growth needed to get back to historically normal unemployment rates anytime soon. And the numbers don't tell the story of all the Americans who lost jobs and are now in part-time or lower-paying jobs.

But we'll take our good news where we can find it.