Teen's paintings helps birds harmed by BP oil spill


by Mia Gradney / KHOU 11 News


Posted on August 16, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 16 at 3:20 PM

HOUSTON—Two years after the worst oil spill in U.S. history, 10 new studies are revealing the long-term impact of the BP oil spill. The Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystems absorbed the insult of 4.9 million barrels of crude oil. It’s estimated 102 species of birds have been harmed. 

Olivia Bouler, 13, just happens to be crazy about birds. The teen started drawing them when she was just 4-years-old.  
“I don’t have a favorite because it’s not fair for the rest of them,” Olivia said.
Olivia’s two passions collided when the oil spill hit the Gulf Coast in 2010. More than 200 million gallons leaked from BP’s undersea well. The oil covered the shore and its wildlife. Olivia felt moved to put together a plan.
“I just tried to list all of my talents in my head. What would be the greatest thing to raise money? I thought…art,” she said.
Olivia wrote the Audubon Society a simple letter. She told the organization she was a decent drawer and wished she could sell some bird paintings. Olivia didn’t expect what happened next. For each donation to save the birds, donors received an original “Olivia” painting. In all, 500 paintings were purchased. AOL stepped in and donated $25,000. They, too, got a painting in return. 
The paintings were such a success that the teenager received a book deal.  She visited Houston recently on a book tour and led a workshop to help others draw birds. 
Olivia wants to be a role model for kids to step up and do something -- anything they believe in. 
“Kids, they believe in crazy things. Reality has not yet set on their shoulders, so they can really get involved at a young age and they feel like they make a difference,” Olivia said. “They can see a future that sometimes adults can’t because reality is like a fog and it’s blocking their view.”
Without her parents support, Olivia says her efforts would have gone nowhere.
“What do you do when you are upset? You can complain about it or do something about it,” said her father James Bouler.
“I wanted to help her realize her potential and dream,” her mother Nadine added.
Olivia has raised $250,000 for Gulf recovery efforts. She has been awarded the ASPCA kid of the year award and was also named a champion of change by the White House.
You can visit her website here.