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Dear friends,

2023 is off to a great start for education programs at Hoyt Arboretum! We've already hosted some new and exciting classes for adults, like the Bigleaf Maple Sugaring program you'll read about in this email, but the coming spring and summer will have even more to offer. 

Learning and connecting with nature is for all people, of all ages, from all backgrounds, all year long, and I can't wait to share what we've been working on with our partner instructors! 

Here's to learning new things together in 2023,

Nina Avila (and Jersey)
Education Manager
Hoyt Arboretum Friends

Tapping Into the Bigleaf Maple

It’s a busy Saturday morning in February at Hoyt Arboretum, and a group gathers under the Stevens Pavilion for a special event. Today, we are lucky to have Eliza from the Oregon Maple Project come out to teach us how to make maple syrup from our native bigleaf maple. 
Eliza is from New England where maple sugaring (that’s the term used to describe tree tapping, gathering sap, and boiling it down to syrup or sugar) is a common winter activity. 

After relocating to Oregon, she spent many years as an elementary school teacher, and reignited her interest in maple sugaring with her students through a special maple unit she taught in class.
In 2020 she transitioned to maple sugaring as a means to environmental education full time through her nonprofit, the Oregon Maple Project.
Bundled up and gathered around the Pavilion’s picnic tables, we learn a brief history of maple sugaring in North America. Most common in the east and midwest, indigenous peoples have been utilizing sap from the sugar maple for an estimated 10,000 years! First encouraged by observing wildlife nibble sapsicles off branch tips, the practice of maple sugaring has persisted from First Food to modern society as a major winter agricultural product in Canada and the eastern parts of the United States. 

A long cultural practice honed by traditional knowledge and experience in the east, there isn’t much history of maple sugaring in the western states. Eliza speculates, “This may be because the sugar content of our native maples is much lower, and there are more accessible winter food sources available.” 
The sap collected from sugar maples comes out around 4% sugar content, the rest water (and also minerals). You can drink the sap, but it is not shelf stable as-is. To become syrup, the water must be removed until the sugar content reaches 66%, by boiling, freezing and chucking off the ice, and/or if you’re really fancy- through reverse osmosis! 

Bigleaf maples put out sap with 1-2% sugar content, so it takes a lot more bigleaf sap to produce an equal quantity of syrup to sugar maple sap. We measure the bigleaf maple sap collected from the Arboretum with a hydrometer. It reads 1% sugar content.
We all sip the sap. It tastes like very lightly sweet water. Then, we sample finished syrup from Oregon Maple Project trees. It’s dark, rich, a little less sweet than sugar maple syrup but with a carmelly depth the other one lacks.
Wide-eyed and sugared-up, we are ready to take a walk around the Arboretum to locate and identify bigleaf maples of different ages when they've lost their most conspicuous features- their leaves!

We find young trees, "corpus clumps" or regenerating stems from removed trees, and large bigleafs that must be pushing 200 years old!

Younger trees tend to produce more sap than the great big hundreds-of-years old maples.
Eliza thinks this may be because bigger trees have more insulation and thus have less need for the antifreeze-like properties of sap.
We come to a nice 20-30 year old tree off the main trail that split into 2 trunks. Before class, Eliza coordinated with the Arboretum's Curator to select an appropriate tree to demonstrate tapping on.

We scrape moss from a spot around chest height and drill in about 4 inches. No sap is running from the drill site yet, but it is clean and all the wood shavings are removed. Spiles are hammered into place and  the the collection receptacles are connected.
The process is quick and easy, and with a cold snap coming, the promise of flowing sap is high. 

Thank you to Eliza for sharing her knowledge, the Arbor Lodge Neighborhood Tree Team for funding and support, and to everyone who came out to learn with us on a chilly day!  We can’t wait to do it again next winter!
Foraging - including tree tapping - is not permitted at the Arboretum, but participants will be able to use their new knowledge on their big leaf maples in their backyards.

Events and Classes

Adult Programs
PNW Conifer Tree Walk (outside)
March 11, 10:30am - 12:30pm

Forest Birds (VIRTUAL)
March 14, 5:30- 7pm

Forest Bathing (outside)
March 20, 3 - 5pm
April 8, 1 - 3pm

Forest Bathing Expanded (outside)
March 25, 9am - 12pm

Printmaking with Nature (inside)
March 25, 9:30 - 11am

Common Street Tree Walk (outside)
April 8, 10:30am - 12:30pm
Mushroom Discovery Walk (outside)
April 14, 9 - 11am

Healing Herbs  (outside)
April 15, 10:30am - 12:30pm

Lichens & Moss (outside)
April 20, 1 - 2:30pm

Mushrooms & Fungal Ecology (outside)
April 22, 10:30am - 12:30pm

Hand-built Nature Mugs (inside)
April 29, 9:30 - 11am
Creative Collage Series

Spring Equinox
April 9, 10am - 12pm

New Moon
April 16, 10am - 12pm

Book Inspiration
April 23, 10am - 12pm

April 30, 10am - 12pm
This series will take place in-person- a combination of inside and outside at Hoyt Arboretum. Ticket price includes materials.
Youth Programs
Natural Artists Workshops
with The Nature Atelier

Found Object Sculpture
March 11, 10 - 11:15am

Seed Paper
April 15, 10 - 11:15am

Natural Artists programs are for Ages 5 to 10, and are indoors.

Drop off is optional.
Tree Time! Preschool Walks
Mondays and Saturdays!
10 - 11:15am

Ages 2 to 5
(must be accompanied by an adult)

This program is fully outdoors.

Volunteer With Us!

Visitor Engagement
Hoyt Arboretum Friends is seeking volunteers to help with visitor engagement in our Visitor Center.
Visitor Center Representatives greet guests and provide trail recommendations, maps, and retail assistance.

Shifts last three to four hours and are divided into morning and afternoon shifts on weekdays and weekends.

We provide all the necessary training. All you need is curiosity, a desire to learn, and a love of helping others.

Email with interest.
Stewardship Crews
Get your hands dirty and make new friends while helping to steward the Arboretum's trees and trails!  Volunteers might clear brush, remove invasive species, dig trails, plant trees, prune, or weed gardens. No experience is required.
Saturday Crew is back for spring!
March 4, 9am - 12pm

March 18, 9am - 12pm
April 1, 9am - 12pm

Tuesday Crew, year-round
Every Tuesday

Corporate Groups
Demonstrate your company's commitment to the environment and to your employees. Schedule your group on a Tuesdays or other weekday morning.

Embeded in Tuesday Crew

HAF's Communications Coordinator, Rebekah Golden spent a morning volunteering with Tuesday Crew. 

Read this first-hand report of the work Tuesday Crew does to keep the Arboretum a beautiful place for us all to enjoy!

Seasonal Highlights

The Arboretum is almost completely covered in moss right now! Mosses need moisture to reproduce, and right now they have it! Look at those long sporangia (reproductive structures) extending off the main body!
What's that crusty stuff on the trees you ask. Oh, well, that's crustose lichen! Lichens are symbiotic relationships between a fungus and algae. The lichen photosynthesizes thanks to the algae, but its structure  is a result of the fungus. 

Follow the Arboretum!

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