NOEL, Mo. — Monday’s warmer weather was the perfect ingredient for making maple syrup–as McDonald County High School students found out.

Students in the Pro-Start Program took a field trip to a local farm where they learned about tapping trees, collecting sap and finally–making syrup.

“The way you actually tap the trees is pretty simple,” said Samara Smith, a junior at McDonald County High School. “A lot easier than I thought. You just take a drill and put it into the tree for an inch and a half or two and then there’s a little plastic tap connected to a clear tube. You just put it in the tree and put it straight into one of those big five-gallon jugs.”

The Pro-Start Program allows students to learn about all aspects of the food industry–and what conditions are best for making our favorite foods.

“The best time is when it’s been pretty cold and then warms up for a day or two,” Smith said. “That’s the best time for it to really flow.”

Instructor Marie Strader says the experience helps students appreciate where that bottle of syrup they see at the grocery store came from.

“I like the cooking down process,” said Strader. “I like to see it go from looking like water to having something that we can eat and to see the kids eat the pancakes with the syrup that they’ve put their hard work into. To me, that’s my favorite part.”

Strader says the process of making maple syrup is a lost art, but the interest level of her students may signal the beginning of a renaissance.

“One of the students said this was the most interesting field trip they’d ever been on,” Strader said. “You never know if what I think is interesting translates back to what they think is interesting. It was really nice to see that they’re really interested in this process also.”