Excited to Educate!
Future Generations Appalachia Program Team has been engaging the next generation of biologists, foresters, and economists.
We hosted a number of youth activities at the Mobile Sugar Shack at the West Virginia State Fair in August in Fairlea. Over the 10 days of the fair, Future Generations staff, maple producers, and McDowell County students interacted with 1,610 attendees. Visitors learned about how maple syrup is produced, designed their own leaves, built lizard habitats, and were treated to a full-on play pancake breakfast for kids.
This year’s Mountain State Maple Days was a resounding success. Over 35 partnering maple producers opened their sugar houses and tapping areas for tours, tastings, and syrup purchases. This year featured more maple value-added goodness than ever before, including cotton candy, infused syrups, baked items, and barbequed pork sandwiches. Program staff and partners were stationed at McCoy’s Mill in Pendleton County, Frostmore Farm in Pocahontas County, Ronk and Estep Branch farms in Lincoln County, and Toms Creek Maple in Wayne County. Partners from Virginia Tech, West Virginia State University, and McDowell County Schools collected from sites to determine community level economic impact data so that the Appalachian Program can better assist in the planning process.
The longest running maple festival in the country is in Highland County, Virginia, right across the border from the main university campus. Through partnerships with the Highland County Chamber of Commerce and Virginia Tech, the Appalachian team manned the Mobile Sugar Shack and talked to 948 people over a four-day period in March. Maple producers in the county are open for tours, restaurants serve maple-themed specials, and local crafts makers sell their wares. This festival has shown to bring over one million dollars of revenue to the county annually.
It has been a busy year for the program team, and we are all looking forward to seeing you at more regional events this coming year, starting with the West Virginia State Fair in August!