As the snow fell on the campus of University of Michigan-Dearborn in mid-February, at least one person looked on the bright side.
“This is a sugar snow,” Rick Simek, program supervisor of the Environmental Interpretive Center (EIC), explained to a group of local students. “When this melts and goes down into the ground, it’s going to help the trees to make our sap. The more snow we get during the season and the slower it melts, the more sap the trees are going to make and the more syrup we’re going to be able to make.”
The impromptu lesson was part of the EIC’s Maple Syrup Science Program. During the annual activity—offered to students and community members—participants learn to identify maple trees, tap the trees, collect the sap and process it into syrup.
This year, the EIC expects more than 1,000 area residents to participate in the program by season’s end. They will help collect more than 400 gallons of sap, which will produce 10 gallons of syrup.