July 05, 2010 12:00 PM

OLIVIA BOULER, 11

Islip, N.Y.

When Olivia Bouler’s grandparents in Alabama described how the oil spill would harm Gulf Coast wildlife, the fifth-grader began to cry. “I couldn’t stand it when I heard about the birds,” says Olivia, who spends vacations swimming and sailing in the Gulf Coast waters near her grandparents’ home. Sobbing, she ran to her room and emerged 20 minutes later with a letter to the National Audubon Society decorated with a drawing of a cardinal: “I’m a decent drawer,” she wrote, “and I was wondering if I could sell some bird paintings and give the profits to your organization.”

Six weeks later, Olivia’s artwork has inspired nature lovers to donate nearly $130,000 for Gulf cleanup efforts led by the National Audubon Society (audubon.org) and five other wildlife organizations. “Olivia has moved all of us,” says Frank Gill, Audubon’s president. Adds Denise Fisk of Minooka, Ill., who received Olivia’s painting of an American goldfinch after donating $250: “She was the first person to take action.”

This summer, the aspiring ornithologist plans to crank out a total of 500 illustrations. “It’s flabbergasting to think of the money we raised,” she says. “Think of the birds we’re going to save.”

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