ST. FRANCISVILLE — When West Feliciana Middle School art student Claire Leming won an environmental art contest as a seventh-grader, she didn’t know the honors would come rolling her way for nearly a year.
Leming, 13, placed first among artists 11- to 13-year-olds in the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission’s 10th Environmental Awareness Art and Language Arts Contest.
The contest’s theme was “Louisiana Waters: Protect, Conserve, Enjoy,” and her drawing made with colored pencils and watercolors depicts cupped hands dipping up clear blue water from a pool.
Leming said she entered the contest “kind of like at the last minute,” but she won cash for her first-place entry.
“I had a really nice reception at the Governor’s Mansion. Then I get in a calendar, and I pretty much thought it would be over by then,” she said.
Her drawing was chosen for the 2013 calendar produced by LEEC, which is part of the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Other artwork and the work of the language arts winners are included in the calendar.
But the recognition continued into her eighth-grade term.
“My aunt called me one night and said, ‘Hey, congratulations about your billboard.’
“I was, like, ‘What?’ And she gave me directions, and I went down to see and found out I have a billboard,” she said.
The Alcoa Foundation, a contest sponsor, and LEEC featured her art on a billboard on U.S. 61 south of the highway’s intersection with La. 964. The billboard is visible to motorists traveling south toward Baton Rouge.
Leming said she climbed on the catwalk under the image and had pictures taken “because what kind of 13-year-old has a billboard? Pretty neat.”
The contest winner is the daughter of Mike Leming and the late Ruthie Dreher Leming, of St. Francisville.
She is a student of West Feliciana school district gifted art teacher Kelly Morantine, who said the inclusion of Leming’s artwork on the billboard and in the calendar is “a wonderful accomplishment.”
“I could not be any prouder. She is a wonderful student to teach,” Morantine said.
To request a copy of the calendar, send an email to Juliet Raffray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entries are being accepted for the 2013 contest, and information on applying is available by visiting the website http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/eec.