Vernona, NY (WIBX) - It's the final weekend of the 12th Annual Maple Sunday in Verona. This year, the festivities include a proclamation from Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as a resolution presentation from State Senator Joseph Griffo, that was adopted by both the New York State Senate and Assembly.

Ag teacher and FFA Advisor at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School, Keith Schiebel, is being recognized as one of the six Outstanding Agricultural Education Teachers in the country. Schiebel says Maple Weekend is just one example of how far the program has come, and should serve as a reminder of how much more that needs to be done to advance FFA education.

"Maple in New York State ranks usually second in the nation behind Vermont. And there's a real push by our state government leaders and agriculture industry to realize there's several untapped opportunities within Maple ... there's tremendous opportunity for growth within the industry, " Schiedel said. He added that less than 2-percent of the states available maple trees are taped for maple production.

The VVS High School FFA Chapter started its Maple Taping Program in 1989 and first made Syrup at the school in 1992. And today,  it's grown to include the Annual Maple Sunday event, which is in its 12th year of educating the public about maple syrup production and FFA related programs. Schiebel says for the past four years, the movement has included the use the Mobile Maple Unit that's taken on the road to elementary schools throughout the state, to present Ag literacy programs about food production.

VVS also hosts a Maple Industry Conference -- a day  and a half program -- that's in its 12th year. "This year we had more than 800 people there from 13 states," Schiebel said, and added that there were even representatives from Canada and Sweden who attended the conference. "So, that's  an example of how we've grown and really heightened the awareness of Ag in the maple industry," he said.

This Sunday, March 27, at 11:00 a.m. following the Maple Sunday Tree Taping Ceremony, there will be a presentation of the Proclamation  from Governor Andrew Cuomo by Darrell Aubertine, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Ag and Markets. Also, Sen. Griffo will present the Senate Resolution recognizing the VVS  FFA chapter as "Chapter of the Year" and as the "National Model of FFA Innovation."

The weekend long event also includes a pancake breakfast and tours to see how maple syrup is produced. Schiebel said, "If people bundle up warm, the wagons we have are pretty comfortable and it's really a nice family oriented tour for anybody to come out and have a nice pancake breakfast, relax, and spend about a half hour on the tour to see how maple syrup is produced."

The pancake breakfasts will be served from 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and the wagon rides start at 9:00 a.m. and conclude at 3:00 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday. Maple Sunday takes place annually at VVS High School located on State Route 31 about 2 minutes from NYS Thruway Exit 33. The cost for the pancake breakfast is $7 for adults, $5 for youths and senior citizens, and free for pre-school aged children.

Keith Schiebel will not only be recognized as an Outstanding Agricultural Education Teachers, but will also receive a two-year lease of a 2011 Toyota Tundra during the tree taping ceremony on Sunday.