REEDSBURG — A good-sized crowd gathered around the sugar house at the School District of Reedsburg’s Hartje Outdoor Learning Center to celebrate the First Tree Tapping of 2019, kicking off maple syrup season for the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association on March 16. Wisconsin’s Maple Month runs from March 15 to April 15.

Representatives from the association select a partner for the event each year, with the School District of Reedsburg picked to host the event in 2019 because of their Maple Syrup Education program, in its fourth year. Fourth-grade students in the district have been provided the opportunity to collect maple sap, using math and science to interpret data and watching adult volunteers as they transform the sap they collected into maple syrup in the district’s sugar house, which was installed two years ago through the generosity of the community.

“It’s been an awesome connection to the classroom,” said Matt Peetz, elementary associate principal.

The Wednesday before the event, fourth-graders tapped nearly 200 trees, with their handiwork on display for those who attended. Three fourth-graders were also on hand to demonstrate how to tap a maple tree that Saturday.

And while many trees had not produced any maple sap yet, visitors could still watch the evaporator inside the sugar house undergoing a test run, steam flowing from the evaporator into the forest. They also sampled a few maple-flavored treats, including fresh filtered maple tree juice, coffee made with maple sap instead of water and maple candy.