Olivia Bouler: Painting to rescue birds and restore habitat
Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Olivia Bouler asked the National Audubon Society how her skill as an artist and her love of birds could be put to use. The fifth grader from Islip, N.Y., created a web page offering her vibrantly colored and lively paintings in exchange for donations.
Five hundred of Bouler's watercolors of pelicans, warblers, buntings, and other North American birds were claimed within three weeks, and donors eventually contributed $200,000 to restoration efforts.
In the media coverage that followed, Bouler spoke about the importance of small actions in response to big environmental issues like habitat loss and pollution. She sees kids' ability to focus on one piece at a time as a lesson to adults for whom the overwhelming magnitude of a problem may be an obstacle to taking action.
To spark kids' interest in nature, Bouler, now in high school, regularly shares her knowledge and enthusiasm for birds and drawing in classrooms, sometimes with the help of her younger brother Jackson, a puppeteer. A traveling exhibit of her artwork and her children's book, Olivia's Birds, encourage people to mobilize, one beach or backyard at a time.