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Scrapbook: Young Artist Helps Gulf Wildlife One Drawing at a Time

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Sierra Club Scrapbook

May 17, 2010

Young Artist Helps Gulf Wildlife One Drawing at a Time

Olivia-Bouler

Olivia Bouler, an 11-year-old from Islip, New York, had just sat down to dinner with her family earlier this month when they said a prayer about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Olivia began to weep for the birds that will die," says her mother Nadine, an artist and high school English teacher, "so we had a discussion about what we could do to help."

Knowing the birds were going to suffer during migration and nesting season, Olivia suggested that she do drawings of birds that could be sold at the gallery that shows Nadine's work, and send the proceeds to organizations that work with wildlife or are helping with Gulf cleanup and recovery efforts.

Olivia-drawing

Below, one of Olivia's drawings.

Olivia-drawing

Although she lives on Long Island, Olivia is familiar with the Gulf Coast and its wildlifeher dad grew up in Orange Beach, Alabama, and the family spends many vacations with cousins and grandparents in Alabama and Louisiana.

"The Gulf disaster had been weighing heavily on our hearts and minds," says James Bouler, an architect whose firm specializes in environmentally friendly projects. "It's been painful to watch the slow destruction of that ecosystem, and we've been looking for ways to help."

Olivia wrote to the Audubon Society, hoping to sell her illustrations to raise money for Gulf cleanup costs.

Olivia's-letter 

Ultimately she decided to simply give her bird drawings to people who donated to wildlife recovery efforts in the Gulf through non-profits including the Sierra Club, Audubon, the Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation.

Bird-drawing-by-Olivia

"We decided to broaden the fundraising effort through my blog," says Nadine. "Then Olivia set up her own Facebook fan page called 'Save the Gulf: Olivia's Bird Illustrations.' The response has been incredible. People have been contacting Olivia from all over the country, urging her on."

Kestrel-and-bluebird

To date, nearly 750 people have become fans of Olivia's Facebook page, and her drawings have raised more than $3,500 that will be donated to wildlife recovery efforts.

"Olivia loved to draw from an early age, especially wildlife," says Nadine. "She got into birding a few years ago and even conducted a feeding experiment where she put out a variety of seeds and feeders and spent the day charting which birds went to which feeders." The project earned her an honorable mention through Brookhaven National Laboratory's Science Fair Program.

Pelican-by-Olivia 

Olivia says she is committed to helping the Gulf Coast for as long as she is needed. Meanwhile, the aspiring ornithologist, artist, and saxophone player is acting locally to help preserve natural habitats for birds.

Below, Olivia and her 6-year-old brother Jackson visiting a friend's farm on Long Island.

Olivia-with-a-friend

Jackson-at-the-farm

"We've decided that we're heading to Washington, D.C., to urge Congress to pass clean energy legislation," says Nadine. "This tragic event in the Gulf has committed us to making our voices heard."

Nadine-and-James-Bouler

"We're so proud of Olivia," she says. "You can imagine how distraught we were as she cried at the dinner table knowing the impending disaster for birds and how helpless we all were to change its course. This was our tiny way of trying to control the universe." Nadine and James Bouler are pictured above.

In addition to Audubon, Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation, Olivia has chosen the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and Weeks Bay Foundation to be part of her Save the Gulf project.

If you would like one of Olivia's bird drawings, please contact Nadine Bouler to let her know you have donated to one of these organizations, and Olivia will send you a drawing in gratitude.

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