Contributed photo
Frazee-Vergas Elementary fourth graders recently took a trip to Maplewood State Park near Pelican Rapids to learn about maple syrup and the process for making the edible treat.

Maplewood State Park has been busy with elementary students in May as classes from different communities have come to Maplewood to learn about maple syrup and how it is made.  

Maple sap season may be over, but volunteers at Maplewood State Park have learned that they can teach about making maple syrup anytime, and it is much nicer for the students if they can come when the snow is gone, so they don’t have to stand around and shiver and walk through all those mud puddles. Or much to the teacher’s worry, they end up jumping in them.

On May 17, the Frazee Elementary fourth graders came to Maplewood. During their visit they rotated through five different stations.

Station 1 taught students how to identify a maple tree even when it doesn’t have leaves. They also counted rings to learn the age of different trees.

Station 2 taught students how to tap a tree and they got to experience trying it. They also used an old wooden yoke to try to carry 2 pails of sap.

Station 3 taught students about the Native Americans and maple syrup. Did you know that maple syrup is a gift to the entire world from Native Americans? They figured out that sap from the maple tree, when cooked, produces maple syrup which the Native Americans turned into maple sugar so they could transport it. The students also watched how they would cook the sap in a hollowed-out log using hot rocks.

Station 4 gave students the opportunity to taste sap, real maple syrup, and imitation maple syrup. Then they voted to see which syrup tasted best to them and learned why pure maple syrup is so much better for them. Did you know it takes 40 pails of maple sap to make one pail of maple syrup?

Station 5 showed students how many people today cook maple sap over an outdoor cooker. They also got to go inside the sugar shack and see the evaporator the Friends of Maplewood uses to cook sap today.

After their sack lunch they were served a cup of ice cream topped with pure maple syrup.  And finally, it was a hike up Hallaway hill to wear off some of that excited energy before boarding the bus for school. It was a fun day for the kids, the teachers, the parent helpers, and the Friends volunteers.

This school maple syrup education is provided by the Friends of Maplewood State Park with volunteers from their organization. This year they had five different schools come to Maplewood State Park for maple syrup education. (Alexandria Carlos Elementary second grade, Fergus Falls Adams Elementary second grade, Underwood Elementary sixth grade, Detroit Lakes Rossman Elementary fourth grade  and Frazee Elementary fourth grade). There were a total of 410 students. Each visit requires a total of 11 volunteers and it is a way for the Friends group to help kids learn about maple syrup and visit Maplewood State Park.

Meditation at Maplewood State Park

Beginning in June, on the evenings of the full moons, you are invited to meet at Maplewood to relax and be present in nature. One of the jobs the Moon has is to stabilize Earth on its axis, so it is not so wobbly. Join us and let the stillness of the outdoors stabilize people so they don’t feel quite so wobbly too.

Saturday, June 3 from 6:30-7:15 p.m. Josh Hanson Memorial Picnic Shelter

Monday, July 3 from 6:30-7:15 p.m. Josh Hanson Memorial Picnic Shelter

Tuesday, Aug. 1 from 6:30-7:15 p.m. Josh Hanson Memorial Picnic Shelter

Wednesday, Aug. 30 from 6:30-7:15 p.m. Josh Hanson Memorial Picnic Shelter 

Meditation will be facilitated by Sue Nyhus, email:; phone: (218) 731-1827

Running Wild Trail Run

Registration and more information for this event can be found online at Running Wild Trail Run or you can register the day of the race.

Saturday, June 10, 9 a.m.   Maplewood State Park at the Josh Hanson Memorial Picnic Shelter.

There will be the following races:

• Wee Run Wild  200 yards for kids age 4 and under

• Kid’s Run Wild  200 years for kids 5 – 7

• 1-mile LIFE Hike

• 7K Trail Run