In 2019, a team of extension and research faculty from the School of Environment and Natural Resources (CFAES) collaborated with Future Generations University in West Virginia and Penn State University to receive a grant award from USDA’s ACER program. The awarded project’s name is “Leveraging Education and Research to Promote Maple Syrup Production in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.”

The tri-state effort is funded for 3 years and seeks to understand current production, marketing, and sales behavior of the states’ producers and craft outreach and educational resources focused on increasing production levels and sustainability of maple operations across the region.  Additionally, the team plans to expand its focus beyond just current producers to also include rural woodland owners and natural resource professionals such as foresters.

A second substantial ACER award was received in 2020 to examine the sugaring potential of maple trees that are NOT sugar maples.  We are excited to see how far that research has already progressed at the Ohio State Mansfield sugarbush, and we could not be more pleased on how other of the research objectives are being met as well.

The Ohio ACER team is Sayeed Mehmood, Kathy Smith, Les Ober, and Gabe Karns.

You already know Les, but here’s a little about the rest of us.

Dr. Sayeed Mehmood is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the area of Natural Resource Economics. Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources is his home unit. Sayeed came to Ohio State in 2017. Prior to being a Buckeye, he spent almost 16 years at the University of Arkansas. Specifically, his recent research interests (among other topics) have included econometric models of private woodland owner behavior and sustainable natural resource-based economic development.

Kathy Smith is Ohio State Extension’s Program Director for Forestry. She coordinates the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program, OSU Extension’s program for educating Ohio’s private woodland owners. Kathy played a major role in installing the sugar bush for demonstration, education, and research purposes at Ohio State’s Mansfield campus. Kathy has a decade of prior experience as a practicing silviculturist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as a Resource Conservation and Development forester.

Dr. Gabriel Karns has shared accountabilities with The Ohio State University-Mansfield and the School of Environment and Natural Resources. He has worked in varying roles as a Buckeye for nearly 8 years. He is trained as a wildlife ecologist, and his primary focus is exploring how activities within working landscapes can be economically viable while creating value-added opportunities for conservation. One of the Capstone courses he teaches initially conceived the concept of a sugar bush at the Mansfield campus, and he shares a primary role in the operation.