How sweet the taste of Michigan maple syrup from Alcona County

Alcona County FFA Sugar Shack project produces some of the highest-quality products during Michigan Maple Syrup Month: maple syrup and youth leadership.

Photo credit: Alcona FFA Website

Photo credit: Alcona FFA Website

Recently, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared the month of March to be known as “Michigan Maple Syrup Month.”  In Alcona County, one of the anticipated annual Spring events is the Alcona FFA Maple Syrup Celebration event that showcases the high quality of not only the Michigan Maple Syrup produced in the area, but also another high caliber product from Alcona County: the youth leadership that makes this happen year after year!

Alcona High School has an active Agricultural Science Program that partners with the Alcona FFA. Annually, one big project that takes place is the harvesting, processing and production of Maple Syrup….from tap to table; the Alcona FFA shows high school-aged students the entire process.  The home to this program is known as the Alcona FFA Sugar Shack and is located on Alcona High School property.  According to Helen-Ann Prince, Alcona FFA Advisor, “As well as showing high school students the entire maple syrup production process we also give tours to other classes, elementary students and community members.”

These students truly take ownership of this project as well.  On a visit last spring, shortly after the season was complete, several of the students involved in the Sugar Shack were able to share their passion and efforts on other FFA projects for which they had taken part with during the year.  What I found amazing was their level of understanding of the value of hard work and pride in the outcome; a solid vision of their future and what they hope to accomplish, and the number of college-bound students interested in a myriad of fields of study that were all involved with this project. 

Annually, the local Alcona County community looks forward to the Alcona FFA’s Maple Syrup Celebration Day, which includes a pancake breakfast and maple syrup sale, which usually takes place in late March.  This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.  Often, due to the limited supply, high quality and high demand, it is a premium opportunity to get your hands on a bottle of this locally-produced Maple Syrup from the Alcona FFA Sugar Shack.

For more information about the Alcona FFA program, check out their website.  Also, Michigan State University Extension has educators working across the state to help communities understand and support their local Community Food System.  Visit the find an expert page, and search by topic to locate the educator for your area or contact your local MSU Extension office.