For the past year I’ve been the Clerk of the Forestry Crew. This has entailed managing a crew of four students as we milled lumber, split and stacked firewood, and made maple syrup. Clerks are students placed in management positions within Sterling’s work program. We take on extra responsibilities, work more hours per semester, and are given more opportunities for professional development. We work closely with our faculty supervisors to help implement and further the mission of Sterling through our work program positions.
The work program gives students opportunities to branch out from their course work and learn new skills, all while providing a valuable service to the college. This, I think, creates ownership in the work being done and fosters student’s sense of community. There is a great sense of connection when I see lumber I helped mill being used in projects on campus and when the syrup we made is soaking into pancakes in the morning at breakfast. This connection encourages me to do the best quality work that I can, and allows me take pride in knowing that the work I am doing is having a direct, and positive impact on my community.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been making maple syrup. Its meant afternoons trudging through the sugarbush collecting sap and long nights spent in the sugarhouse boiling down sap to make our syrup. As Clerk I’m responsible for understanding the whole sugaring operation, from tapping trees to delivering the finished syrup to the kitchen. Its also meant getting into the sugarhouse before everyone else to get things prepped, and staying late shutting down and wrapping up. It takes extra effort and organization to make sure that I can balance long hours at work with my course work and somehow still find time for myself.
The sugarhouse can be a hectic place at times, but my crew has managed to get the art of sugaring down to a near science. Each person understands their role and can execute with near clockwork like precision. I get a lot of satisfaction in taking a step back and just seeing the whole process running smoothly, knowing that at the beginning of the season most of my crew didn’t know much of anything about sugaring and now they can run the evaporator basically unassisted and that I played a part in training each one of them.
Photos by Adam Reck