Wadena-Deer Creek High School senior Emily Ament spent six months painting an 8-foot-by-12-foot mural for the Wadena Alley Arts Project that depicts farming -- a subject that's close to her heart.

Ament, who lives on a farm near Bluffton, said she had admired the various murals around Wadena for a long time. When she heard they were looking for murals from the farming era, Ament jumped at the opportunity. She met with David Evert, the coordinator of the Alley Arts project, and soon her dream was within reach.

The only obstacle: She'd never painted before. With outcome-based direction from her high school art teacher, Jim Formanek, Ament learned the art of painting, trial by error.

According to Formanek, painting is a medium that is best taught by letting students develop their own style.

"If I was to show students exactly how I paint everything technique-wise, some students would only copy my example," Formanek explained. "I honestly wanted Emily to struggle a little bit with the medium. Once she solved the problem of painting, it gave her a much greater awareness of how she solved the challenge."

Ament's mural concept came about with some help from her grandmother, Peggy Ament. Together, they pored through family photo albums for ideas for the farm collage.

Ament found photos of herself as a youngster milking cows and feeding calves. Another photo of her grandfather, Tom Ament, on a tractor and her mom and another of her dad, Wayne Ament, where he's captured as a silhouette.

On May 21, it was time to hang Ament's mural. Needless to say, she was ecstatic. The mural was moved from Formanek's art room to the south side wall of Wadena Eye Clinic to officially become part of the Alley Arts Project.

"I'm so excited," Ament said. "To have this hanging up for people to see is really special. It's like leaving your mark in history. I'm honored to be a part of this project."

The mural is also considered one of Ament's National Honor Society projects, where students must perform a community service or project. The four pillars of NHS are character, scholarship, leadership and service.

"NHS members must exhibit these four qualities in their daily lives," Formanek said. "And Emily definitely displays those qualities, whether it be in art or in any of her school activities. She's a talented individual, who is an excellent representative of Wadena-Deer Creek Schools."