For the fourth straight year, John Rhude, an Environmental Sciences teacher at , and his students, are turning tree sap into sweet maple syrup.
This year, however, the process of boiling down the sap is easier because of a new maple syrup evaporator which was purchased with a $2,700 grant received from the Nicolet Foundation. The grant money was also used to purchase tree taps, filters, buckets, and all of the other necessities to make pure maple syrup. The sap is supplied from about 15 sugar maple trees that are part of the school's five acre nature preserve located behind the facility.
The basic process for making maple syrup starts with drilling a small hole into a Sugar Maple tree and pounding a small spigot into the hole. When the tree sap starts to flow in early spring, it will drip from the spigot into collection bags which are hung onto the spigot. The collected sap is boiled down to concentrate the sugar and takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.
The Nicolet Environmental Sciences team is looking to collect and evaporate 110 gallons in about 10 hours. The syrup will be used for a breakfast for approximately 74 AP students at the school. It will also be used for an Environmental Club pancake breakfast fundraiser on Earth Day, April 22. There are between 10 and 15 active members in Nicolet's Environmental Club.
Rhude is looking to build an environmental center in the school's nature preserve. To accomplish this, Rhude is seeking to raise $12,000 in private funds and grant money. A portion of this money would be used to build a sugarshack to house the maple syrup production equipment.