OWENSVILLE – The question was simple enough.
Clermont County Park District Lead Naturalist Jana Marshall finished explaining how maple trees produce their food and store the extra.
“What do your parents do with their leftovers,” Marshall asked the visiting kindergarten class from Clermont Northeastern Elementary School Feb. 27.
“Put them in the microwave,” came the immediate reply.
Adults in the back of the room may or may not have looked sheepish as they chuckled. Marshall, however, simply compared a tree’s roots to a refrigerator, saying the stored food was how trees survived the winter.
The class toured various stations on the Pattision Park grounds, including a pioneer area, a hike on the sugar bush trail and a visit to the sugar shack.
At the pioneer station, Naturalist Alyssa Rooks shared the legend of how sap was discovered. Students donned a yoke to haul buckets of sap and practiced using sticks to carry hot rocks to a mokuk, a hollowed out log Native Americans used to boil sap.
On the sugar bush trail, students identified maple trees, tapped a tree of their own and tasted its sap. (“It’s just like water, only not,” was one reaction.)
At the sugar shack, Park Director Chris Clingman showed how the collected sap is filtered and boiled down to a substance called maple tea. (More samples. More comments. “It’s really sweet, but it’s not sticky like syrup.”) Tea is further boiled to make syrup.
“And what if you boil all the water out of the syrup,” Clingman asked.
“It would burn up and you’d catch on fire,” came the quick reply.
Actually, careful boiling of the liquid from syrup results in maple candy. Which was distributed and sampled to near-unanimous acclaim. (“That is sooooo super yummy,” one of the students said.)
The class served as good preparation for the 13th Annual Pancakes in the Park celebration March 10 at Pattison Park.
The Clermont County Park District has a wide range of educational offerings for all age groups. Programs are available on site or at your school. A complete list of school programs is available here.
To book a field trip, please call Lead Naturalist Jana Marshall at 513-240-2615 or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark D. Motz is the Community Relations Manager for the Clermont County Park District. A native Cincinnatian, he has worked for more than 25 years as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. Away from work, he enjoys photography, theater and spending time with his nine godchildren.