Each year in March, at the height of the maple sugar tapping season, farms across New York State offer educational and hands-on maple sugaring experiences. Schuylerville students in grades K-12 didn’t have to go far for the opportunity, with a Maple Week hosted right on campus!
NYS Maple Growers Tour
Grades K-5 students experienced an interactive, educational maple exhibit depicting the history and process of making maple products from sap. “The Maple Experience,” a 24-foot mobile trailer, parked on the Schuylerville campus for a week. High School agriculture teacher Mary Foote’s students worked with elementary school students to depict the process of maple sap being pulled from maple trees and collected in stainless steel tanks. Simulated flames flickered in a wood-fired evaporator, as the sap bubbled and boiled into maple syrup. Students learned how the finished product is graded, filtered, and packaged, and how maple syrup is used as a food and natural sweetener.
The Maple Experience educational outreach program was developed through a New York State legislative grant and is sponsored and managed as a special initiative of the New York State Maple Producers Association. The exhibit is available to schools and educational programs at no charge using funds from a New York State grant program.
Black Horse Sugar Shack
The Black Horse Sugar Shack Shack is now a permanent fixture adjacent to Schuylerville High School’s Ag/Tech wing. Built by David Gauci’s Tech Trades students, the sugar shack produces maple products while simultaneously teaching students about the maple syrup industry. Through a state grant obtained by NYS Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, the Black Horse Sugar Shack is a hands-on maple education and production product all in one.
During the month of March, Pete Carner’s 4th grade students, in conjunction with Mary Foote’s high school students tap the maple trees located on the Schuylerville campus. From there, the sap is brought to the Black Horse Sugar Shack, where it goes through an evaporator and is boiled to reach proper temperature.
Students see the process to the very end, packaging and labeling maple syrup bottles! So far this year, 20.1 gallons of maple syrup have been produced on campus.
Maple Product Tastings
Schuylerville Food Services served maple-inspired foods throughout the week in the school cafeterias. In addition, elementary students enjoyed maple cotton candy made by high school agriculture students! First grade teacher Grace Rathbun, also from Rathbun’s Maple Sugar House in Whitehall, gave students a lesson on maple products, complete with taste testing of maple sugar, cotton candy and maple cream!