BREMEN — A Walkerton company started a rain barrel decorating contest this year, hoping to raise awareness of ecological issues and engage area art and science students at the same time.
Chris Kline of Cardno JFNew explained it this way.
“Our firm is an ecological restoration consulting firm,” said Kline. “One of the areas we work with is clean water and actions people can take to install rain barrels for their home or business. We sponsored this contest for high schools in Marshall County. We supplied them each with a 60 gallon rain barrel, and it was up to the individual classes to decorate that rain barrel.”
The science and art clubs from Triton Jr./Sr. High School, the FFA club from Plymouth High School, and art students at Bremen High School took them up on the offer, and the contest was underway.
The barrels were displayed at a booth at the Marshall County Blueberry Festival, and festival attendees voted — for $1 a vote — on their favorite. Proceeds from the voting went to the Marshall County Master Gardeners program.
After the votes were calculated, Bremen High School came out the winner.
“It was really exciting to win, and the students were excited for the prize of going on a field trip to Cardno JFNew,” said Bremen High School art teacher Ashley Boardman. “Since we are a school that is farther from Plymouth, and I know a lot of people from Plymouth attend the Blueberry Festival, I wasn’t sure what the response would be. I was pretty pleased with the results.”
She continued, “It’s my first year at a new school, and I wanted to get involved with the students in a fun way. I thought: ‘why not? It’s a different medium that just painting on canvas. The Blueberry Festival is well attended, and it could get students work out there.’”
Boardman solicited her most advanced art students — her Photography I class — for the project.
“None of them had ever really painted before,” said Boardman. “We took turns working on separate parts of it. The time frame was the most challenging; by the time we got the barrel and the supplies we had to have it done in about a week.”
Boardman’s students took a field trip to Cardno JFNew’s nursery facility Sept. 19 as their prize. They were also treated to a catered lunch.
“Since it was a photography class they took 35mm black and white film cameras, and had a shooting assignment to complete during a field trip,” said Boardman. “They loved all of that, being outdoors most of the day and seeing what the company was about…and getting to take photographs at the same time.”
Kline said that Cardno JFNew is happy with how the contest turned out.
“We had a lot of people ask about the rain barrels at the festival,” said Kline. “They were all different designs and very colorful, and prompted people to ask questions. We certainly met our goals (for the contest).”