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Simple Idea Turns into Community Project for AMS Art Class

AMS art students holds up flower drawing September 18, 2020

For Arlene Shelton, virtual learning didn’t necessarily need to mean indoor learning during the COVID-19 shutdown last spring.

Shelton, Aledo Middle School art teacher, kept finding ways to get students outside last spring for her lessons – and also for their physical and mental health.


“I designed lessons around encouraging the safe exploration of the outdoors as part of my students’ creative process,” Shelton said. “I was worried that our students would feel stuck at home and inside on their computers.


“I realized I needed to do more to encourage our students to consider their health as well as the health of our planet,” she said.


That thought generated another – how she grew up enjoying exploring outdoors with her siblings – which generated yet another.


“I came up with the idea to have students design seed packets as a way to help create a sense of unity and to encourage our community to get outdoors and be good stewards,” Shelton said.


After a conversation with her oldest sister Robin, who has a degree in horticulture and works in that field, Shelton was reminded of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, so she started her research there, learning about a seed grant the center offers.


Just a couple of months later, Shelton and her Aledo Middle School art students were awarded a $100 grant from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to purchase about two pounds of wildflower seed, which will cover approximately 4,400 square feet of land. Shelton’s students will use the seeds for a project that focuses on inspiring students to learn the important role that ecological habitats of pollinators (birds, bees and butterflies) have on our planet’s food supply. 


“To maintain the wide variety of foods we need to stay healthy, we need pollinators,” Shelton said. “Students will study the important role that native Texas wildflowers have in this ecological system.”


Students will study botanical illustration, seed packet design and marketing skills necessary to promote the planting of wildflower seeds within the Aledo community. Students will design, fill and distribute seed packets for the community to plant.


Shelton has already seen an interest from the community and is excited about how it will bring the community together for a common cause. The final result – from the simple idea of planting a seed – may be more than even Shelton expected. 


“I just can’t wait for my students to see how their efforts can make an impact on our world,” Shelton said.