January 20, 2010

Maple Syrupin’ Pancake Breakfast-Workshop set

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- It’s time for the ever-popular Maple Syrupin’ Pancake Breakfast and Workshop at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center. The fun starts with a delicious pancake breakfast featuring real maple syrup and continues with the hands-on experience of “sugaring off” to make syrup.

There are two Saturday sessions this year, on Feb. 27 and March 6. Each begins with a 9 a.m. breakfast and wraps up at noon. All ages are welcome to enjoy the morning exploring the age-old pioneer tradition of harvesting the maple product and boiling it down to create syrup.

Participants will learn to identify the maple tree and find out about tree physiology. They’ll discover the legends and lore surrounding the maple syrup harvest and the techniques used in making maple syrup.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the maple syrup workshops beginning about 10 a.m. Feb. 27 and March 6 at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center. In addition, various school and youth groups will participate in similar workshops in the next few weeks at the center and media can make arrangements to cover any of the workshops by contacting Kate Hellgren at 618/453-1122, ext. 250, or via e-mail at kateh4@siu.edu.

Tickets for the Maple Syrupin’ Pancake Breakfast and Workshop are $15 for those age 15 and older and $8 for children ages 5-14. Kids younger than five can attend free. The breakfast is at the Touch of Nature main campus while the workshop is at the Upper 40 cabin a mile farther south.

The event is so popular, sell-outs are common. In fact, after many years where there was a waiting list for the one-day event, it expanded to two dates in 2009.

“Maple syrup is the tasty reward that we are given for enduring winter’s blunt cold. It makes the promise of spring that much sweeter,” said Kate Hellgren, environmental education program coordinator at Touch of Nature.

Advance registration is required for the breakfast and workshop. To sign up or get more information, call 618/453-1121.

Groups of children from local schools and organizations will visit Touch of Nature in coming weeks to see how maple trees are tapped and syrup made. To find out more about scheduling a youth maple syrup session or other environmental education activities at the camp, contact Hellgren at 618/453-1122, ext. 250, or e-mail Hellgren at kateh4@siu.edu.