MEXICO – The outdoors is both an oasis and a classroom during maple syrup season for students in the Project Explore program at the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation.
After mid-winter break in February, about 20 students joined teacher KC Jones in a back corner of CiTi’s 85-acre lot behind the main building where they learned how to tap maple trees.
The struggle this maple season, Jones said, has been the extreme fluctuation of weather.
Despite winter storm Stella dumping much snow on the prime maple grounds, students, Jones and other CiTi staff have worked together to empty five-gallon buckets of sap at each tapped tree into a collection tank that’s towed by a tractor.
The sap then goes back to the sugar shack where it is poured into two wood-burning evaporators and boiled so excess water is separated from the sugar.
Maple syrup is then stored into gallon jugs and will be reheated at the end of the season so it can be bottled into jugs.
The traditional culmination activity for the maple syrup unit will be a pancake breakfast with Project Explore students and their peers from CiTi’s Career and Technical Education Culinary Arts program.
Each Project Explore student will also receive maple syrup to take home.
Any leftover syrup will be sold to CiTi staff as a fundraiser for the Alternative Education program.