As you brush the dirt off your knees and shake the cobwebs from your head (what a crazy syrup season!), here is a new video featuring one of our state’s own maple producers – Bill & Dee Belew of Messenger Century Farm in Chagrin Falls, OH. You’ll remember that we have highlighted the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) and other NRCS programs (such as the Conservation Stewardship Partners program) as excellent opportunities for maple producers to improve their woods AND their operations. This video is a marvelous example of just that.
A special thanks to Brooke DeCubellis who produced the video. Brooke DeCubellis serves as the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) public affairs specialist in Ohio. In this capacity, she creates and leverages communication strategies and products supporting NRCS objectives throughout the state. She maintains effective working relationships with regional partners, highlights local producer conservation efforts and shares technical and financial resources to further natural resource stewardship within the state. Brooke is a skilled communications professional, with more than ten years of experience in federal and state government work, specializing in media relations, public engagement, photography and videography. Thanks Brooke for shining a light on a fine example of what Ohio sugaring is all about!
Given that Ohio State is a university and has well over 60,000 students enrolled, making the statement – “students were involved” – seems like a needless statement of the obvious. But in the case of the Mansfield Maple program and larger Ecolab initiative, the fact needs to be explicitly stated. Students have been heavily involved.
The maple program itself is the fruition of a student report inventorying the Mansfield campus’ forest resources back in 2013. A simple charge to “explore potential of the mature forest for a maple sugarbush” and subsequent student effort to do the project scoping have led to a whole host of tangible outcomes, not the least of which is a re-invigoration of the School of Environment and Natural Resources’ (SENR) commitment to non-timber forest products.
And student involvement has continued to this very day. Ecolab student interns assisted in the Mansfield sugarbush installation and have participated annually in tapping and other system maintenance tasks. Students have performed invasive species management in the maple stand and catalogued each individual tapped tree throughout the sugarbush. A student research team helped establish the complimentary crop tree release demonstration area that targets sap-producing maples as one of the focal stand management objectives. And last year, a Capstone group of SENR seniors explored new ways to assess and management for sugarbush tree health and vigor. The deliverable outcome of their project was a well-crafted Story-Map linked here. We encourage you to view the high-quality work of our Forestry and Wildlife seniors and learn about crop tree management, the threat of invasive plant species to our native biodiversity, and the potential effects of climate change on future sugarbush resilience.
Students have been an integral part of making OSU Maple a success. By purchasing maple syrup and showing your support of the program, you can make sure student support remains a centerpiece of the initiative moving forward. We are proud of our students and are thrilled to know that Ohio’s maples will be in safe hands for future generations.