Wakulla County Extension “2019 Courtyard Mural” Unveiling

The Extension Office Before
Wakulla County Extension Office before
UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Office “Courtyard Mural” project early 2019 (Before)

It takes vision to see past something that may seem ordinary or dull in order to imagine the possibilities of all the great things that it could become. In this case, that something was simply our courtyard wall. A wall that most visitors walked by here at the Wakulla County Extension Office each and every day with no real thought that it was even there. Certainly, we saw the county building that the wall was attached to but had no reason to pay mind to its real purpose. Visitors walked by the courtyard wall to get to its door, giving them entrance into the building. At least the door served a purpose that was more recognized each time it was used while the courtyard wall simply disappeared into the scenery.

Slideshow video created, designed and produced by: Patricia Standeford, Program Assistant, UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Office

The dull scenery surrounding the wall hardly helped and wasn’t very inviting. One would probably not consider having lunch at the picnic table camouflaged by the overgrowth of unruly hedges. The entire courtyard was a perfect invitation for the right imagination to see past all of the drab, lifeless space to become one of the most picturesque and visited spots here at the Wakulla County Extension Office.

The Creative Vision

That great visionary would be none other than our very own Sherry Balchuck, Extension Officer Manager who brought her creative suggestion to Les Harrison, Extension Director. Sherry introduced Les to the concept of how to present the possibility to collaborate with a few young talented youth in our community to design, develop and create a natural abstract mural for our Extension courtyard. The project was intended to portray the beauty of North Florida’s natural plant life, along with the animal habitat.

The creative vision for the courtyard mural came to Sherry as an idea to produce an enriching and welcoming area of Wakulla’s native life, beauty and colors at the center of the courtyard. This opportunity was designed to inspire and empower our county’s youth to express their artistic potential as they contribute to making a long-lasting impression of the beauty in their Wakulla County community. In addition, the candidates who would be chosen to complete the “Natural Courtyard Mural” project would receive community hours, recognition for their outstanding talents on our UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension website, Facebook, and local press as well their personal pride earned for completing such an outstanding accomplishment. When visitors come to the office for information about the programs such as the agriculture, horticulture, natural resources, Master Gardener’s course, 4H youth development and Family Consumer Sciences, Sherry wanted them to feel transported to the tranquil country meadows of Wakulla County.

Wakulla County Extension Office Courtyard Mural 2019
UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Courtyard Mural 2019 (After) Office 84 Cedar Avenue, Crawfordville, FL
Making A First Good Impression

Here at the Extension Office, as all of us know, it is important to make a first good impression for our patrons. After putting in some thought on the options and brainstorming new ideas, Sherry just knew a wall mural as well as newly landscaped gardens would improve the experience of visitors at the Extension office.

After getting the approval from Les Harrison, County Extension Director, Sherry moved forward to figure out how to make it happen. She sent out an invitation on Facebook to the Wakulla County community along with reaching out to the Wakulla High School. The search was set forth for anyone who would welcome such a wonderful opportunity. Sherry met with some very talented high school students on three separate occasions to help them understand the purpose of the Extension Office; and what the team hoped to achieve. All of the students offered a variety of creative concepts, but Sherry wanted to be certain those in the community had the same chance to express their artistic talents.

Reaching Out to Wakulla Community
Avery Nakashima
Avery Nakashima – Follow his talents at https://sacredvisionsstudio.com/

Sherry posted on social media “anyone interested in participating in the courtyard mural to submit two sketches that captured native animals and native wildflowers, stating each of these elements are extremely important to the ecosystem.” Shortly after the post, the Nakashima family from our community visited the extension office to speak with Sherry about the wall mural opportunity. The family is somewhat new to the Wakulla County community but they are very environmentally aware of all its beauty and natural resources. Each of the family members enjoy creating things to help other people to become more aware

Arianna Nakashima Artist
Arianna Nakashima – Follow her talents at https://sacredvisionsstudio.com/

of their special natural surroundings. After all entries were submitted, and the Extension office team voted on their mural of choice. Avery, Arianna and Kaile Nakashima were the artists chosen.

Inspiring Artists Chosen

The three artists proved to be amazing and their dedication to their work was widely admired. Through the whole process, it was clear that each one demonstrated special talents, techniques, ideas and the ability to work together in a complementary way. In his spare time, Avery Nakashima is multi-faceted as an artist creating and designing as well as producing short videos about how to prevent pollution. Ariana Nakashima is not only a talented artist, she is a singer, song writer and likes to sew as well. Kai Nakashima is into painting in a variety of mixed media and also enjoys gardening. Her woodland critters added a beautiful touch to the courtyard mural. This family is truly a wonderful bundle of talent, each one striving to give back to a community they love and cherish. It has been such a pleasure to meet these delightful young adults and to get to learn so much about them.

Kai Nakashima Artist
Kai Nakashima – Follow her talents at https://sacredvisionsstudio.com/
Wakulla High School Lends Their Talent

Although the Nakashima family were chosen for the lion’s share of the design, there were also several Wakulla High School students participating in painting the wall

Emily Strickland
Emily Strickland Artist

mural. We also had a volunteer Wakulla High School teacher, Mrs. Emily Strickland, donate her talents to help with the mural. With everyone’s talents and time, this mural has well exceeded our expectations from the original sketch.

In addition, we could not make this happen without the support of our sponsors at Ace Hardware and True Value.

Now that the courtyard mural is complete, it has already begun to create the positive reactions Sherry was aiming for. It has brought our community together, made the Extension office an unforgettable place to visit and gives everyone a reason to smile when they see this beautiful courtyard mural.

Vic Torrious WHS
Vic Torrious WHS

We cannot thank everyone enough for all of their hard work, valued time and talents as we share in all of the mural’s natural beauty.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating





Posted: August 8, 2019

Category: Agriculture, Events,
Tags: Agriculture, Community, General Information, Les Harrison, Living Well In The Panhandle, Natural Resources, Natural Wakulla, UF/IFAS, Up-coming-events, Wakulla, Wakulla Agriculture, Wakulla County, Wakulla County Extension, Wakulla Extension

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