Director's Message (Special Naturalist Edition)
Cannon River STEM School was awarded 1st place at a maple syrup contest held at the annual Minnesota Naturalists Association conference, this year held at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. This honor was given after the syrup was tested by Naturalists and other environmental educators from around the state.
Every year, 3rd grade students at CRSS work hard to learn about trees of Minnesota, as well as the cultural and modern tradition of tapping maple trees for sap, and turning that sap into syrup. The process takes place around March, and requires students to correctly identify maple trees, to learn how to safely "tap" the tree without damaging it, and then taking responsibility for collecting the sometimes very heavy buckets of sap.
During the "sugaring season", 3rd graders also learn about the cultural role that maple syrup and sugar plays for the Dakota and Ojibwe people, who not only discovered and perfected the process in this region, but also who have continued the tradition on the land we call Minnesota for generations.
Lastly at the end of the season, 3rd grade students assist with collecting enough firewood in order to boil the sap down outdoors until it has lost about 65% of the water content, leaving delicious and "award winning" syrup. The syrup is then enjoyed at the end of the season at a celebratory "pancake party", which this year for our 3rd graders, will taste even sweeter!