Relying on her artistry, an 11-year-old who loves birds has helped raise more than $70,000 to protect pelicans, manatees, whooping cranes and other birds who are threatened by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
A budding orinthologist who already knows she wants to study at Cornell University, Olivia Bouler of Islip, N.Y., was shaken by the growing disaster and wanted to do something. So she wrote a letter to the National Audubon Society and told them she had one skill to offer: drawing.
“Eleven years old and willing to help,” she wrote.
Learning of her effort, AOL donated $25,000 in her name to the Audubon Society and offered to host her portfolio at a site it maintains for artists. Aside from that contribution, Olivia’s efforts have helped raise about $50,000, said Christine Goss, an AOL spokeswoman.
The birds are exposed to oil when they float on the water or attempt to dive for fish. Oil-stained birds can lose their ability to fly, and ingesting the oil can be toxic. This month The Times reported on how brown pelicans, once on the brink of extinction, are again at peril because of the oil spill.
Olivia is familiar with gulf wildlife, having spent many summers in the region with relatives in Louisiana and Alabama.
She has sent out more than 150 illustrations so far and plans to stop at 500 original drawings, all of which are now subscribed. Beyond that, new contributors will receive limited edition prints of her work.