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Kurn Hattin:Students Learn to Tap Maple Trees

For more than 120 years Kurn Hattin Homes for Children has help disadvantaged kids in Vermont and throughout the Northeast.
WESTMINSTER, Vt. -  For more than 120 years Kurn Hattin Homes for Children has help disadvantaged kids in Vermont and throughout the Northeast. Tucked away in southern Vermont it provides a safe place to live and learn for more than 100 students.

On Friday kids got some real-world experience, learning about sugaring. For students at Kurn Hattin Homes for Children tapping maple trees is a tradition that's 120 years old. As long as the school has been in existence sugaring has been part of the lesson plan.

“I was taught how to drill a hole in the tree,” said Jaime Minor, a 7th grader at Kurn Hattin.

“The taps have to face the south so the sap is always flowing,” said Chrystal Long, an 8th grader at Kurn Hattin.

“My favorite part is tasting the sap when it comes out of the tree,” said Danielle Barber, an 8th grader at Kurn Hattin. "It tastes like sugar and water”.

Kurn Hattin is a boarding school in Westminster Vermont, and home to disadvantaged children from all over the state and throughout New England.

 “We serve children who are - for whatever reason -struggling at home. Many of whom their families may be in crisis or may not be,” said Scott Tabachnick, the school principal.

Tabachnick says ‘hands on learning’ is an important part of the classroom curriculum and of the agriculture program.

“It’s a really nice thing to have kids engage with nature, engage with their food, and engage with animals in a way that they can bring that back to the classroom and tie it in with their standard education,” said Tabachnick.

“We learn patience because it takes a lot of patience to use the drill, drill the hole, then have to tap it in the tap,” said Long.

And these students are quick learners, crowding around the trees eager to do their part.

“I just like just having hands on projects like showing how I could survive outside,” said Minor.

After the sap is collected the boiling process begins. And in the end the students get to enjoy the maple syrup they helped harvest.

“We also eat it at breakfast if we have pancakes sometimes,” said Barber.

“It tastes good too,” said Minor.

The students were a little disappointed the sap wasn't flowing quite yet. But the farm manager says if the next few days warm up a bit they might get to watch the process in action.


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