Naturalist Jim Ikhaml has been tapping maple trees on and around Gatewood Elementary and educating students about the syrup tapping process for the last three years. Under his direction and with help from parent volunteers, his Maple Syrup Program, created for all of Gatewood’s pre-K – 6th grade students, has become a much anticipated learning season throughout the Gatewood school community. Through this Gatewood Maple Syrup Evaporator Grant, the Maple Syrup Program at Gatewood will gain enthusiasm, efficiency, and educational value benefiting all Gatewood students, as well as additional profit thereby benefiting further environmental programming at Gatewood and building stronger bonds with surrounding neighbors and community.
This grant will create a professional and portable maple syrup refining set up including an extremely efficient, wood-burning stove mounted on a custom trailer for movability and flexibility during peak maple syrup tapping season. This adaptability of these crucial program components enables Gatewood to grow their program, seize on-location marketing opportunities and sales efforts benefiting multiple Gatewood student environmental programs and experiences, while also making this program sustainable for Gatewood’s naturalist/program administrator.
Not only will the HEF grant enable the purchase of this equipment but also further develop the multi-grade Maple Syrup Program while processing all of the maple syrup being tapped from their community trees and serving as an entrepreneurial, hands-on experience for all students as they take part in every facet of the Maple Syrup Program. Students get to be part of every aspect of the process from soliciting the use of neighbors trees to tapping the trees and writing thank you notes to collecting and cooking down the gallons of syrup through a very elaborate and labor-intensive process and finally designing labels for the final syrup packaging and sale.
Gatewood Elementary School
Submitter: Naturalist Jim Ikhaml