From new automotive design to engaging content for education, every industry can agree that creativity is key. There are those like Gray Augustus who have combined their skill sets to help craft content for classrooms and major companies. Augustus is an artist, an art educator, and a Teton Toyota team member who has utilized his unique vision in his various roles.
Prior to working full-time at Teton Toyota, Augustus was a fifth-grade teacher at District 91 in Idaho Ethel Boyes Elementary School. He transformed his youthful love of drawing and his childhood dream of becoming an animator into a pursuit of art as an artist, as an educator and in business. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts (minor in Economics) at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah where he met his wife Kari who is currently a fifth-grade teacher at Westside Elementary in Idaho Falls. They have two daughters, ages 5 and 9.
After discovering their mutual connection for inspiring creativity, supporting education, and helping the community, Mario Hernández, Dealer Principal, offered Augustus the opportunity to work with Teton Toyota. In 2021, Augustus became the Teton Toyota dealership’s full-time marketing coordinator, which includes producing unique community programming such as the Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest.
Hernández is recognized in the Eastern Idaho community as a major contributor to the arts and a long-time supporter of the Idaho Falls Arts Council, Idaho Falls Symphony, and local schools. His dedication to supporting the arts is something that gives him great pride. At Teton Toyota, Hernández, Augustus and the dealership’s management team coordinate regional marketing campaigns that involve area causes aimed at building community while supporting local businesses at the same time. Teton Toyota is proud to partner with national Toyota initiatives that maximize the support to local communities. The dealership is also a member of the Toyota/Lexus Minority Owners Dealers Association. TLMODA is a national organization that offers networking and mentoring opportunities, professional development, and more to its dealership membership across the U.S.
“It’s amazing to be able to work for a car retailer that sees the importance of the arts and understands how supporting creativity and the community is good for all,” said Augustus.
The Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest provided an opportunity for Augustus to connect the dealership with local art initiatives, utilizing resources from Toyota Motor North America to help deepen engagement with area youth in the arts. Supported by Teton Toyota, he worked with Georgina Goodlander, Visual Arts Director from the Idaho Falls Art Council who leads programming for the ARTitorium on Broadway. Together, they designed, promoted, and conducted four free family nights of “dream car” art instruction, and a free day of family activities at the ARTitorium on Broadway, which is an interactive art center for kids that focuses on meaningful, entertaining, noisy, and fun art experiences
“Facilities like ARTitorium on Broadway literally could not exist without community support. Teton Toyota has been such an incredible partner since ARTitorium opened in 2014 and it’s wonderful to work with an organization that not only sees the value in what we do, but actively works to help us do it even better,” shared Goodlander. Her thoughtful work with Augustus proved that collaboration is one of the foundations of innovation, making their efforts a perfect vehicle to help usher in new ideas from youth through the Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest.
During December 2021 and January 2022, Teton Toyota also supported Augustus by giving him the time to visit local elementary schools and support teachers by providing onsite art instruction. His one-hour classroom workshop on car design and three-dimensional drawing helped to introduce the contest to over one hundred fifty students and to encourage a love of drawing. As part of his visits, students received the free “Activity Book: Coloring & Cars” (also available as a free download on the contest website) and were invited to submit their own work into the Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest. Before demonstrating artistic techniques, Augustus shared online resources with the students and discussed key points of drawings by past winners. He also created a grading rubric to provide to teachers so they could help inform students of learning expectations and a follow-up writing prompt to convert what was taught in workshops into a usable lesson in multiple subjects.
“There are few places I imagine being able to work in marketing that would allow so many resources to be devoted to their area’s youth. I get to market an amazing product for a dealership that puts the customer first in its core operating principles and emphasizes community support and growth. It’s wonderfully fun and extremely fulfilling,” continued Augustus. He looks forward to seeing the program develop even more in the coming years.
ACT NOW! Artwork submissions to the FY22 Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest are due on Monday, January 31, 2022!
Unpack the art supplies, unbuckle imaginations, and kickstart the freewheeling designs of what your kids think cars should look like in the future. Then, enter their artworks now in the Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest. Submissions created by youth, ages 4-15, will be accepted for this year’s contest online or by mail through January 31, 2022. More information, including digital downloads of a print-at-home coloring book, teacher lesson plan, and a set of family activities is available at www.toyotadreamcarusa.com.