Maple producers throughout the state may take advantage of three one-day schools, spaced through the state. The "Vermont Maple Conferences" begin with one on Saturday, Jan. 12, at Mt. Abraham High School in Bristol, followed on consecutive Saturdays by a second one at Bellows Falls High School in Bellows Falls, Jan. 19; and a third at Lamoille Union High School in Hyde Park, Jan. 26. The individual workshops, supported by the University of Vermont Extension, vary somewhat from one location to the next. Organizers promise many new topics, which encompass forest management, improved sap gathering techniques, syrup production, and marketing techniques. Speakers include scientists, maple specialists, and sugar makers from around the state. Meetings also feature a large trade show with vendors displaying maple related equipment. The Addison County Sugarmakers sponsor and put together the Jan. 12 meeting, with additional sponsorship from Yankee Farm Credit, National Bank of Middlebury, Co-op Insurance, Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), and the Addison County Chamber of Commerce. Topics for this day include High Performance Tapping and Spout Size, Going Organic, and Hissing in the Woods (detecting vacuum leaks), as well as a class for beginning sugar makers. The day's ham dinner is courtesy of the American Legion, Post 19, of Bristol. Both the Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 conferences, sponsored by the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association, include Sugarhouse Sanitation; Getting More Sap from Your Trees; Prices, Markets, and the Maple Industry Today and Tomorrow; Cooking with Maple; and Basic Chainsaw Maintenance and Sharpening, among other subjects. Each has a different deadline for registration. Registration forms and more information are available online at
. For more information or special accommodations needed in order to attend, call the University of Vermont Extension office at (802) 888-4972 or (866) 260-5603 (toll free, in-state only).