2013 Maple Persons of the Year

Third Generation Maple Producers Win “MAPLE PERSON OF THE YEAR” Award

At the St. Lawrence County Maple Producers’ annual banquet on February 2, 2013, President Doug Thompson prefaced the announcement of this year’s recipients of the Maple Person of the Year Award by saying “This year’s recipients grew up with a strong maple background; they are third generation Maple Producers; they’ve both been involved in the industry since they were very young; they’ve been active at both the County and State level; he said it would be nice to recognize each separately but recognizing them separately just wouldn’t be right, how can you separate a team like that.”  He then revealed this year’s recipients of the Maple Person of the Year were sisters, Brianne Tulley and Courtney Foote and thanked them for their dedication to the Maple Industry. 

They are the children of Jeff and Lori Jenness, DeKalb; and Bryan Donnelly of Schenectady, and grandchildren of Laura and the late, E. Paul McAdam of Gouverneur.

They started on a small scale with maybe 50 buckets or so joining the family operation on the Country Club Road in Gouverneur.  This operation consisted of aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts and uncles, and of course grandparents.  They made only enough syrup to get them through the year.  As the family grew, they increased the number of buckets and eventually added some tubing and reached around 100-150 total taps.

They moved to the Orebed Road in DeKalb in 1999 and this gave the girls more maple experience.  Now they were up to 500 buckets and 300 on gravity fed tubing.  As they worked with their parents at the Orebed Sugar Shack they got to 200 buckets and 800 taps on gravity tubing.  They became expert in putting up tubing, probably as well as anyone around.  They would make trips with the 4-wheeler to gather sap before their parents were home from work.

Brianne served as 2002 St. Lawrence County Maple and 2002 New York State Maple Queen Alternate, 2003 St. Lawrence County Maple Queen, and 2004 St. Lawrence County Maple Queen.  She serves as the Webmaster and the Recording Secretary for the SLCMPA.  Brianne was also the afternoon shift manager at the St. Lawrence County Fair this past year.

Courtney served as 2004 St. Lawrence County and NYS Maple Queen Alternate, 2005 St. Lawrence County Maple Queen and NYS Maple Queen Alternate, and 2006 NYS and St. Lawrence County Maple Queen.   During her reign as NYS Maple Queen Courtney was directly responsible for a $150,000 appropriation to the NYS Maple Producers Association.  Courtney served as the St. Lawrence County Maple Producers Association delegate to the New York State Maple Producers Association for a few years, and has also served as a Trustee for the North American Maple Museum.  Courtney currently serves on the New York State Maple Producers Committee for Maple Royalty.

Together they have worked as Co-Chairs to establish a strong Maple Queen and Princess Program with much support for the young women in this program.  You will often see one or both of them at: Hammond Fair, The Power Equipment Museum, Dairy Princess Parade, Fair Clean up Day and Fair tear down day to mention a few.  They regularly attend the monthly meetings of the SLCMPA.  They annually attend the opening of the North American Maple Museum to support the royalty attending and representing the SLCMPA.

They truly are part of the Maple Operation at The Orebed Sugar Shack and have been responsible for adding new products (maple suckers and granulated maple sugar) and packaging.  When it comes to Facebook, they are expert and they help maintain The Orebed Sugar Shack’s Facebook page.  They now have grown to 1600 taps on vacuum; they filter and process the sap with a reverse osmosis (RO) machine, with sap being sterilized as soon as it enters the sap house; they have a energy efficient evaporator and feature a large, heated, uniquely decorated room to host groups, tours, and visitors.  Since their farming practices follow organic regulations, they are currently Certified Organic for the Maple Syrup, Maple Cream, Maple Candy, and Granulated Maple Sugar by NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC.  They can run and explain any of the equipment and have been teaching their husbands the process.  They are both fortunate to have the support of their husbands.

You don’t usually see one without the other.  If you do, the other one isn’t too far behind, they support each other in everything they do.

Here is a link to an article that appeared in the Watertown Daily Times “Sisters share maple award; sweet hobby keeps DeKalb Junction family close”.

Be sure to stop by and congratulate them on Maple Weekend March 16-17 or March 23-24, 2013.  You can find more details on their Facebook Page, visit the website www.orebedsugarshack.com or call them at (315) 528-2450.