We are excited to introduce Jake Nicholson, Ohio State Extension’s new Maple-Christmas Tree hire, to the Ohio State Maple site community. This non-timber forest products position has been a long-time in the making, and we are thrilled to welcome Jake to the team. Jake is a former student, and personally speaking, I was excited to see his name in the hat and enthusiastically supportive of his hire. Recently, I was able to spend a couple days with Jake at the North American Maple Syrup Council in Massachusetts, and I tossed 5 questions Jake’s direction; below are his replies.
Tell us about your background. I know you pursued a major in natural resources – what was that exactly and what drew you to that career?
My first job was working at Camp Lakota, a local scout camp back home in northwest Ohio as a staff member when I was 15. It became such a transformative experience for me, both in helping me to grow personally and in learning how much I loved being outdoors. From there I was hooked, I wanted to learn about conservation, preservation, management, all of it; but most importantly I wanted to share that passion with as many people as I could.
Not to get too personal, but do you a significant other? Kiddos? Pets? Both?
I am recently married to my wonderful wife Maria. We have two pets, a goofy golden retriever named Ryder and a very friendly, but judgmental gray cat named Jasper.
What excites you most about maple?
Oh, so many things, to start with I absolutely love the community I have met so far. Everyone is so welcoming and willing to share what they know; their generosity is overwhelming, and I look forward to visiting more sugar shack and bushes soon.
What your favorite talk from the North American Maple Syrup Conference in Massachusetts?
The Best Practices in the Sugarhouse practical skill workshop was my favorite talk. As wonderful as all the talks I attended were, most focused on the big picture of sugarbush management. Glenn Goodrich did an amazing job of presenting actionable advice to make the best syrup possible once the sap is in the sugarhouse.
If there is one thing you want maple producers to know about you, what would it be?
As steeped in tradition as this industry is, it must be strange to have someone in my position who was not brought up within it. I want to assure all the maple producers of Ohio, big and small, that I am determined to get up to speed with the realities of modern sugaring. I am already taking steps to do that and am incredibly grateful for the way that so many of you have opened your sugar shacks to me and taught me about how you do what you do. I look forward to many more visits in the future and creating programs and resources to promote this industry to future generations.
Now that you’ve gotten to know him here, go out of your way to introduce yourself at Ohio Maple Days on December 8th and 9th up in Ashland. If you still need to register, visit the link for Saturday’s main event and Friday night’s banquet social organized by the Ohio Maple Producers Association. Friday’s confections workshop is already sold out and at capacity, but keep your eyes open for additional offerings on that topic in the future.