MEMORIAL PROJECT — Friends and colleagues of the late Bruce Selleck, longtime Colgate professor and lifelong upstate New Yorker, are raising funds to establish the Selleck Sugaring Project at Rogers Center. Selleck is pictured here with his grandson, Cooper James Murphy. (Photo courtesy the Selleck Family)

Selleck Sugaring Project at Rogers Center will memorialize Selleck

Published Apr 15, 2018 at 9:00am

Friends and colleagues of the late Bruce Selleck are raising funds to memorialize the longtime Colgate professor and lifelong upstate New Yorker by creating a new educational resource – a working maple sugaring operation – at Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne.

When completed – which could be as early as maple sugar season in 2019 – a 21-acre stand of maples that includes Rogers Center’s Cush Hill would become a living laboratory to teach visitors the science and craft of maple sugaring. Local entrepreneurs will provide operational expertise in return for half the proceeds from maple syrup sales.

The other half will help sustain Friends of Rogers operations at Rogers Center. Visitors and volunteers will observe and even share in the sugaring process.

“The project will contribute to the local economy, educate the public, and tap a renewable natural resource to sustain the nature center,” said executive director, Simon Solomon.

Solomon and Selleck were actively pursuing the idea when Selleck died unexpectedly at the age of 67 in July 2017.

Selleck was a Friends of Rogers board member and worked for years furthering the educational mission of the locally managed center.

A 1971 Colgate graduate, Selleck joined the college’s geology faculty in 1974. In addition to serving in a variety of faculty and administrative roles on campus, Selleck was well known for his work off campus in support of the environment, education, and economy of upstate New York.

His tenure as director of Colgate’s Upstate Institute spanned both those roles.

A native of Sellecks Corners, near Canton, Selleck learned maple sugaring on the family farm as one of many skills passed down through the generations.

“Rogers Center embodies Bruce’s love of the outdoors in every season,” said his wife Nancy.

“He appreciated the beauty and value of the natural resources of the upstate area and led field trips there for many years. This project meant so much to him, and our family is very touched by the early outpouring of support to make it happen,” she added.

Practical and down-to-earth in his approach to his life and work, Selleck attracted friendships across a broad spectrum. Widely published and highly regarded in his academic specialties, Selleck served twice as Colgate’s dean of faculty and provost, the college’s highest academic office and second to the president in the administrative hierarchy.

Yet he was also a favorite across five decades among the local basketball players, a diverse collection of athletes from the campus and community, who gather at noontimes most weekdays to compete at Colgate’s storied Huntington Gym.

That unlikely combination of noontime hoopsters and academic colleagues has stepped forward to create a nucleus fund for theSelleck Sugaring Project at Rogers Center.

Coordinated with Solomon and organized by a small committee chaired by Selleck’s friend Chuck Fox of Hamilton, the effort has received gifts and pledges in excess of $11,000 when it was announced publicly this week.

The group has set a goal of raising $40,000, which would provide the funds necessary to launch the project, build a traveling evaporator that could be trucked to schools and other venues to stage live demonstrations, and endow a fund to ensure that the project will continue to operate in perpetuity, educating generations of young upstate New Yorkers in the art and science of one of their great cultural legacies.

Anyone interested in participating in the project is invited to contact Fox at (315) 824-1427 or Solomon at execdir@FriendsofRogers.org.

Contributions made payable to Friends of Rogers and designated for the “Selleck Sugaring Project” may be mailed directly to Friends of Rogers, PO Box 932, 2721 State Route 80, PO Box 932, Sherburne, NY, 13460. Donations can also be made online at www.FriendsofRogers.org 

Rogers Center is operated by Friends of Rogers Environmental Education Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization that offers educational programs for people of all ages. Seasonal hours are from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.