In a competitive field of classrooms across New York State, students from the DCMO BOCES Harrold Campus won 1st Place in the High School Division of the 4th Annual Schoolyard Sugaring Contest held by the New York Agriculture in the Classroom organization.
Students in the Harrold Campus Conservation & Heavy Equipment program and FFA, with support from FFA advisors and instructors Zachary Whittaker and Emily Anderson and others, worked hard this spring to create excellent maple syrup despite being faced with many challenges.
“This year's results show that campus-wide teamwork and dedication can end in a well deserved first place. Last year the program's syrup placed second, so with this year being a more difficult season, it was a sweet surprise,” said Anderson.
Just as the DCMO BOCES program was preparing syrup for sale, use within the school, and the contest, school buildings were closed and remote learning began.
Students had already managed all the hard work: setting up and checking lines, preparing the evaporator, maintaining and operating the reverse osmosis machine, cleaning the kitchen for finishing, collecting and boiling sap to create the maple syrup, and bottling and packaging. When they were not able to enter campus to complete the job due to extended school closure, Whittaker and Anderson stepped in to finish up and submit their contest entry.
In May, maple syrup from classrooms all over the state were judged by a panel of producers and maple syrup experts. All entries were evaluated for density, clarity, color, and flavor, as well as the classroom’s educational component.
While the Conservation Program and FFA are very proud of this significant win, they affirm that this was also a campus-wide achievement. “Many programs and departments invested time and energy into the maple program at Harrold Campus,” said Whittaker.
“The Human & Retail Services program with instructor Nanette Latourette provided valued help in the finishing room and in collecting sap bags on campus,” Whittaker explained. “The Carpentry & Building Construction program invested many hours into making the sap house more functional and made room for equipment. Visual Communications created all of the labels for the syrup jugs. The Operations and Maintenance staff are always on top of any maintenance, repairs or upgrades that occur during both the sugaring season and off season. The support from BOCES for the facilities and equipment the maple operation utilizes also proved crucial.”
A limited amount of syrup is available for sale through the Harrold Campus Conservation Program or Main Office, pending social distancing restrictions.