When tragedy strikes we want to help, but are not always sure how or if the help we offer will make a difference. Other times the need to help is spurred by personal ties or our passions so at the very least we feel that we must try. In 2010 the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico killed thousands of marine mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds. When Olivia Bouler heard the news, she knew that there was something she could do to protect the beautiful gulf which held treasured family memories.
Using her artistic talent and her love of birds she raised over $200,000 for Gulf clean up efforts. She started this at the wise old age of 11 years. Years ago her work may have made the front page of the local paper, but it wouldn’t have reached as many people if she had not utilized social media. When we want to enact positive change the more people we reach the more impact we create. Keep that in mind when you are rallying your community to get together.
Olivias Story: My project is called Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf. In it, I sent out 500 original drawings of birds to people who donated to several environmental organizations, especially the Audubon Society, who were helping to clean up the Gulf of Mexico.
I have always loved birds and the work of John James Audubon. His paintings showed the beauty of birds, which is why I decided to share paintings, hoping to show people that birds are worth saving. I was also inspired by the work of Rachel Carson, who proved that one person can truly make a difference. Without her book Silent Spring, DDT use would have continued and the bald eagle would surely be extinct.
People would send my mom their donation receipt and I would send them an original drawing. When the 500 were already accounted for, AOL helped send out prints of my work. Since then, I’ve written and illustrated a bird guide for children, which also raises money for the Audubon Society.
The fundraiser started on May 3, 2010 and has been ongoing. Although I no longer send out drawings, I have been speaking to kids around the world about saving the planet and sharing my artwork with others.
My goal is to raise money to help preserve animal habitat and to educate children about the importance of our environment. I have raised $200,000 for Gulf recovery efforts. Money I raised was used to establish a volunteer center for people who were there to clean the birds in Moss Point, MS. I have reached thousands of children in person, but many more thanks to the PSA I did with Disney’s Friends for Change. By using social networking, I was able to spread the word about the fundraiser. I now have 30,000 followers on my page.
I have learned that everyone has a talent to share and that we all need to work together to make the world a better place. I have also learned that the environment is in great trouble and we have to take habitat loss seriously.
This experience has made me proud about setting a goal and working hard to meet it. I’ve been able to meet lots of great people who are working towards saving the environment, so I’m inspired to keep working on becoming an ornithologist.
I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to help birds. The traveling exhibition of my artwork made several stops along the east coast and I am planning more education programs with my book. I will continue to make birding videos and hopefully illustrate and write my next book about birds around the world.
I’ve been in many newspapers, magazines, and televisions shows around the world discussing ways that we can save the environment, appreciate birds, and donate our talents to good causes. I’ve presented at several schools and at two TEDX conferences. I was on the White House Champion of Change panel. I spoke at the SkirballCulturalCenter in Los Angeles and for Roots and Shoots at NYU. The greatest moment had to be meeting President and Mrs. Obama. In addition to my book, Olivia’s Birds, I am writing for the Huffington Post and have recently created an educational board game about bird migration.
Learn more and get involved at
YouTube Channel: nbouler
Overview of Project: http://youtube/NxH4SgapX3g
Recent Speech at UN: http://youtube/SVYDxbjQknM
Costa Rica Birding: http://youtube/AyspA24z0XU
This interview is from a book that includes 10 other amazing people who are creating positive change. You can read the full book and buy a copy for your school at Bookemon.com. Buy the e-book for 99 Cents on Amazon.com.