ITHACA, N.Y. –New York Agriculture in the Classroom, the New York State Maple Foundation, and the New York State Maple Producers Association are pleased to announce the winners of the fourth annual Schoolyard Sugaring: Maple Syrup Contest. This contest promotes learning by giving teachers and students applied experience with the time, patience, and science it takes to turn sap into syrup by participating in every step of the maple syrup production process from tapping the trees to bottling the syrup.
This year’s contest saw a record number of registrants with 132 Pre-k through 12th grade teachers that registered their classrooms to participate. New in 2020, the first 120 classrooms that registered received a maple starter kit, while all 132 registrants received an empty pint jug to fill with their syrup and return for judging.
The maple starter kit was designed for schools that may not have the necessary resources to access maple sugaring supplies. Included in this kit was bags for collecting sap, galvanized aluminum sap bag holders, aluminum spouts, a tapping bit, a hydrometer, and a hydrometer test cup. The kit was a $120 value and provided all the essential items students needed to tap trees and collect sap this year, and many years to come. It is thanks to the New York State Maple Foundation and the New York State Maple Producers Association that we were able to expand this contest and give out so many maple starter kits.
Schools were then paired by request with a local maple syrup producer who mentored the students through the process by either visiting their classrooms or inviting them to their sugarbush. In this hands-on experience, students were exposed to careers in maple production and got a sense of the unpredictability the industry faces each year as it relates to weather.
With the sudden closing of schools due to COVID-19 during maple season, it was unfortunate that most of our schools participating in the contest did not get a chance to complete their project. Luckily, not all schools were interrupted by the virus and 32 entries were submitted for judging by a panel of maple experts. Each entry was scored for sugar content, clarity, color, and taste. The first-place classroom in each of the grade level division will receive $250, co-sponsored by New York Agriculture in the Classroom and the New York State Maple Foundation.
Additionally, a photography contest was held concurrently and the classroom with the best submitted photograph in each division will win $50.
New York Agriculture in the Classroom, the New York State Maple Foundation, and the New York State Maple Producers Association would like to thank each school that participated in the contest for increasing the agricultural literacy of their students. The combined hope of the three organizations is that students will cultivate an appreciation and changed perspective about the maple and agricultural industries in New York and grow in their awareness and understanding of New York’s food and fiber systems. Sugarhill Container, a division of Hillside Plastics, donated the 1/2 pint “Taste the Tradition” branded jugs for each class to fill up with their own maple syrup, a partnership for which we are very grateful.
For more information about the New York Agriculture in the Classroom Schoolyard Sugaring contest, visit the website at www.agclassroom.org/ny. New York Agriculture in the Classroom is an outreach program of Cornell University. Working with classroom teachers, volunteers, and agriculture’s stakeholders throughout the state, New York Agriculture in the Classroom fosters an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of our food and fiber system.
Placing School Teacher Maple Mentor 1st Town of Webb Jeremiah Best 2nd St. Rose of Lima Terese M. Prebish Gary Hafner/Dan Beasely 3rd Wells Central School Courtney Bovee Brower Road Sugar House HM Berne-Knox-Westerlo William Dergosits Bittersweet Maple HM Parkdale Elementary Ashley Howe Meyer Harvest Patch Farms
Photography Contest Winner– Granville Elementary, Ms. Jessica Sheldon
Middle School Division:
Placing School Teacher Maple Mentor 1st Lowville Academy Middle School FFA
Melvin Phelps Scenic View Maple
2nd Prattsburgh Central School Jeffrey Herrick Prattsburgh FFA
Photography Contest Winner– Spencer Van Etten, Mr. DeWitt Grove
High School Division:
Placing School Teacher Maple Mentor 1st DCMO BOCES Zach Whittaker 2nd Bainbridge Guilford CSD Daniel Cirigliano Maduno A for Maple 3rd Bolivar Richburg Patricia Eshelman Brower Road Sugar
House HM Lowville FFA Melvin Phelps Scenic View Maple HM DeRuyter Central School Taylor Bass
HM Morrisville-Eaton Rebecca Werbela Orth Farms
Photography Contest Winner– OCM BOCES New Vision Environmental, Mr. Chad DeVoe
Winning Maple Photographs
Elementary Division – Granville Elementary, Ms. Jessica Sheldon
–Katie Carpenter, New York Agriculture in the Classroom