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Uihlein directorship for growing New York maple program gets endowed

In their 47-year relationship with Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), the Uihleins have been strategic partners in stewarding the growth of New York state's maple industry. At a reception Sept. 24, trustees of the Henry Uihlein II and Mildred A. Uihlein Foundation gathered Cornell and community partners to celebrate their latest investment in the industry's future: the completion of a commitment to endow the directorship of Cornell's Uihlein Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station in Lake Placid, N.Y. Current director Michael Farrell is now the Henry II and Mildred A. Uihlein Director of the Uihlein Forest.

"The creation of this position allows our director to continue his ambitious research and extension activities. Mike's work impacts so many areas of New York state's maple industry -- from evaluating different maple varieties and gathering data on sap sugar content to putting expert knowledge and recommendations into the hands of policy decision-makers. None of these past achievements and future plans would be possible without the steadfast support of the Uihleins and the Uihlein Foundation," said Max Pfeffer, CALS senior associate dean, at the reception. "Today is truly a celebration of both the wonderful relationship between the college and the foundation over the last 47 years, and the incredible investment in the Cornell Maple Program's future that this endowed position represents."

Brian Chabot, former statewide Cornell Maple Program director, said the endowed director's position provides a secure base for continuing to build innovative research, extension education and community engagement programs. Engaging the community has been a priority for Farrell as director; in 2009, he spearheaded the Lake Placid Community Garden by donating Uihlein Forest land to the project, and last year his team worked with children from the Shipman Youth Center to launch a community maple sugaring program.

"We will still need funding from external sources, but we will be able to bring more to the table in terms of our contributions," said Chabot. "The endowment puts us in a unique situation relative to other extension programs, and we accept the responsibility to add value for New York maple producers and to communities in the Adirondacks."

The endowed position carries on the legacy started by the Uihleins, who in 1965 donated more than 200 acres of forested land to Cornell for sugar maple research. Those activities, conducted at the Uihlein Field Station under Farrell's direction, form the core of the Cornell Sugar Maple Program. The field station's forest is an outdoor laboratory for the study of forest management and health, and the station's sugar bush of approximately 4,000 taps demonstrates the merits of new technology and proper forest stewardship. The station's orchards and greenhouse are also the base for a northeast regional research initiative to identify and cultivate genetically improved maple stock.

"We hope [the endowment] provides the director more freedom to spend time on activities that strengthen New York state's maple industry, preserve the region's rich maple sugaring heritage and enrich our own Lake Placid community," said James McKenna, Uihlein Foundation vice chairman and president and CEO of the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.

Sarah Thompson is a freelance writer based in Trumansburg, N.Y.


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