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Big Apple visit a sweet success for VVS students

VERONA, N.Y. (WKTV) - With a backdrop of city lights and high-rise apartments, 11 Vernon-Verona-Sherrill (V.V.S.) FFA members recently traveled to the Big Apple with its mobile maple exhibit to teach elementary students about food production and maple syrup.

On May 10th, elementary students from Manhattan’s P.S. 111, located on 53rd Street, participated in the mini-workshops which teach students about the maple industry. It was the fifth consecutive year that the trailer has traveled down Broadway on its way to the New York City borough.

Pocahontas, portrayed by V.V.S. FFA member Sarah Peavey, explained the history of maple as other FFA members taught aspects such as tapping a tree, collecting the maple sap, or processing the raw product into food. Seniors Rob Breckenridge and John Ciotti carved maple spouts from Sumac and compared the taps to today’s modern metal or plastic spouts. Freshman Kenny Stover demonstrated tapping techniques using a bit and brace, then gave a lesson of modern tapping tools using a gas-powered drill. Inside the 28-foot long mobile exhibit, V.V.S. FFA President Neil Collins and Treasurer Joe Brown explained how the sap is boiled and converted into the sweet sensation of real maple syrup.

At the conclusion of the 25-minute presentation, the New York City youth were treated to a sample of real maple syrup and maple fluff cotton candy produced by the FFA members at their school’s facilities. FFA’ers Deanna Schiebel and Clara Richardson passed out maple samples to awaiting children and provided school teachers with coloring books, stickers, and pamphlets about maple. For many who sampled the sweet treat, it was their first time to enjoy the flavor of real maple.

During the last day of the 3-day trip, the maple exhibit moved cross-town to the Bronx. There, students from the Archer Elementary School and P.S. 67 Mohegan School excitedly exited their schools to the city sidewalk to view the exhibit. Assemblyman Peter Rivera, 76th Assembly district, hosted the visit to his assembly district. The trip was sponsored in part by the New York Maple Producers Association. In total, more than 1,000 students viewed the exhibit and learned about maple. For the V.V.S. FFA program, it was the 10th time the exhibit has visited the Big Apple. The maple truck and trailer were initially sponsored by a state grant from Assemblyman Bill Magee.

While in New York City, the V.V.S. FFA members took advantage of the opportunity to experience the city atmosphere and cuisine as they walked through Times Square, viewed the Empire State Building, and saw the newly constructed Freedom Tower at Ground Zero. For 5 of the FFA members, it was their first time visiting the nation’s largest city.

In the fall, the V.V.S. FFA is planning a five-day trip with the maple trailer to New York City during the week of September 10th. The FFA organization plans to visit Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx on its fall excursion. To date, more than 17,000 elementary students have visited the mobile maple exhibit since it’s unveiling in 2008.

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