Kate Cooke

Sugar Maker and US Air Force Veteran, Kate Cooke

Happy Veterans Day! Today We Honor Our Fellow Sugar Maker, Kate Cooke, For The Service And Sacrifices She Made For Our Country.

Interview October 27, 2017:

Angela: Kate, thank you for your service. I’d love to learn more about it. In which branch did you serve?

Kate: I served in the US Air Force from 1975 to 1996.

Angela: Wow! So that was about 21 years of service. What was your role in the military?

Kate: My career field was Accounting & Finance, where we dealt with all aspects of military pay, travel, and payments to individuals as well as to vendors. I moved up to Budget and retired as Resource Advisor to Headquarters Communications for the Air Education and Training Command at Randolph AFB, TX.

Angela: That is really impressive. Did you ever serve abroad?

Kate: I served stateside as well as overseas….from Delaware to Nevada, Germany, Colorado, Holland, Texas.

Angela: That is so interesting to me because I love traveling and seeing new places. What made you decide to join the service?

Kate: I’d like to say I joined to serve my country….that came later as I matured and appreciated the role I and others played in supporting the mission of our country. Initially, I joined as it offered me an opportunity to better help support my family and finish college. It wasn’t always easy….demands were high and family often took a back seat. But, there was pride in a job well done, the mission accomplished.

Angela: It sounds like your career was both rewarding and productive, but yes, I imagine it presented a lot of challenges along the way. You mentioned that work demands sometimes made it difficult to balance work life and home life. That really resonates with me as I sometimes find myself struggling to juggle responsibilities and keep a steady equilibrium.

Were there any lessons/principals learned in the military that have helped you today in your maple syrup business?

Kate: I think it was learning a work ethic, to do what was necessary to accomplish the mission (goal), to do it well and to work together as a team. The other really important lesson was when a mistake was made, learn from it and move forward. Assigning blame accomplishes nothing. 

Angela: You are obviously an amazing leader. I imagine your strong leadership skills facilitate a smooth and enjoyable experience for all your helpers during maple season. I also have to believe that your cohorts have learned a lot from you.

How did you get involved in the maple syrup industry?

Kate: I married George in 2015; and my eyes were opened to the process and (mostly) fun of making maple syrup.

Angela: Ha ha. I’m so glad that you and George enjoy making maple syrup together. It’s a great hobby to do together each spring.

On behalf of myself and everyone here at Smoky Lake Maple Products, I would like to wish you and George a fun and bountiful 2018 maple season. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I admire you for all you accomplished in your career, for your devotion to both family and country, for your leadership, your kindness and your thoughtfulness. Happy Veterans Day, Kate!