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  CONTACT: Jennifer Sroka
PHONE: (313) 593-5644
DATE: Jan. 28, 2005

UM-Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center seeks volunteers for maple sugaring activities

DEARBORN---It's maple syrup season for the Natural Areas at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and volunteers are needed to assist with several maple sugaring activities. The Environmental Interpretive Center at UM-Dearborn will hold a tree tapping event from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19.

"This is work, but it's fun work and many helping hands are needed," said Rick Simek, program supervisor for the Environmental Interpretive Center.

Participants will learn to identify the proper trees for tapping and then have the opportunity to use old-fashioned hand crank bits and braces to put holes in sugar maple trees.

Individuals and organized groups are welcome to attend the event. Volunteers also should expect to spend at least an hour in the woods with a moderate amount of walking in icy or muddy conditions and should dress accordingly. After tapping trees, participants can warm up with hot chocolate inside the interpretive center.

Volunteers also are needed to collect sap on various days between Feb. 20 and March 16, including weekends. Participants meet at 4 p.m. at the EIC and are in the field collecting sap for about two hours. Individuals and organized groups are welcome to participate. Participants must be at least 6 years old. To register, contact Simek at (313) 583-6371.

Adult volunteers are needed to help make syrup by tending to the sap stove. No prior experience is necessary and training is provided. The process involves a six-hour commitment during the day, usually from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers must be available at least two days per week during the three to four weeks following the first flow of sap from trees. Sap flow is weather dependent, but syrup is usually made from mid- to late-February to mid-March. Training will be provided. For more information, contact Simek at (313) 583-6371.

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