January 29, 2008

Maple syrup breakfast, workshop set for Feb. 16

by Christi Mathis


CARBONDALE, Ill. — Just the thought of fresh maple syrup dripping down that big stack of pancakes is enough to make your mouth water.

You can taste it for yourself and then some at the Maple Syrupin' Pancake Breakfast and Workshop. The public is welcome at Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Touch of Nature Environmental Center for the 9 a.m. pancake and maple syrup breakfast on Feb. 16. Breakfast is in the Sledgefoot Lounge at Freeberg Hall. The workshop follows at about 10 a.m., at the rustic Upper 40 Cabin.

Reservations are on a first-come basis through Feb. 11 or until the event is sold out. To register, call 618/453-1121. The cost is $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 5-10 years. Admission for kids under five is free. Touch of Nature Environmental Center is located seven miles south of Carbondale off Giant City Road. In case of rain, the event will be postponed until Feb. 23.


Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the maple syrup workshop beginning about 10 a.m. Feb. 16 at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center. A number of school and youth groups will be participating in similar workshops at the center next month, including several planned prior to the public workshop. Media may cover any of the events by contacting Kate Hellgren at 618/453-1122, ext. 250, or by e-mail at kateh4@siu.edu.

The workshop is a hands-on adventure, giving participants the chance to relive the old pioneer days when settlers harvested sugar maple sap tree-by-tree and cooked it over the fire to produce the syrup. Those attending the workshop will learn to identify sugar maple trees, how and why they produce the sap and about the tree's physiology. Participants will discover how Native Americans and early American settlers went about the labor-intensive rite of spring. The workshop also explores the legends and lore of the annual maple syrup harvest and participants will take part in tapping for sap and preparing syrup.

Touch of Nature's annual Maple Syrupin' Pancake Breakfast and Workshop is quite a popular event and with good reason, said Kate Hellgren, environmental education program coordinator at Touch of Nature. During the month of February, numerous youth groups from area schools and organizations come to the environmental center to learn about and try their hand at "sugaring off" and maple syrup making. For information about scheduling a group maple syrup session or environmental education activities at Touch of Nature, contact Hellgren at 618/453-1122, ext. 250 or by e-mail at kateh4@siu.edu.

"Tapping in to the rhythm of the trees connects us to the turn of the seasons – with such sweet rewards!" Hellgren said.