Students at Mankato East get a lesson in ecology

Mankato East High school students got to try maple tapping for the first time, all part of their Wildlife ecology class.
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 5:48 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - High school students got to try maple tapping for the first time, all part of their Wildlife ecology class.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says March is the maple tapping month which runs until the end of April. Students at Mankato East High School are taking advantage of this opportunity to learn more about what’s right outside their doors.

“These are actually silver Maples and we’re tapping them. This one actually kind of is like already seeping. We’re just out here. These are collecting the sap and we’re going around putting it in this bucket and everything. And eventually we’re gonna boil it down, you know and turn it into actual syrup,” said Mankato East senior Ashley Waletski.

It is all part of their Wildlife Ecology class:

“I mean in order to prepare students to do this. They had to learn a lot about a lot of things. We’ve been studying tree anatomy in the vascular system so that they can understand how and why the sap is Flowing,” said Mankato East teacher Julia Battern.

As well as the history behind the practice.

Battern adds, “We’ve been learning a little bit about some of the indigenous traditions and stories that revolve around maple syrup and just the importance of it as an important resource here in North America.”

Which for students has been a unique experience.

“It is honestly inspiring because like I’ve always wanted I’ve always been interested in environmental science and all that type of stuff. So just like actually apply yourself with Hands-On. It’s really cool.”

“You’re inside all day so to be able to come out here in nature and I was pretty lucky. We have a bunch of trees and stuff out here. It is a pretty cool area. So it’s a pretty nice feeling to do this like on campus. I have to go anywhere,” said Mankato East senior Sam Thom.

The school forest, where the maple tapping took place, is all part of a partnership between Mankato East and DNR.

“We are learning by doing how to actually collect it and cook it down and thank goodness for our DNR Partners like everything I know about this is because they’ve come in and are so willing to help and teach us,” said Battern.