Video: Girl says Gulf spill ‘upsetting’

  1. Transcript of: Girl says Gulf spill ‘upsetting’

    KATHIE LEE GIFFORD, co-host: Eleven years old and willing to help. Actually, she was 10 years old...

    HODA KOTB, co-host: Yeah.

    GIFFORD: ...when she described herself -- I don't think that makes sense. Anyway, she contacted the Audubon Society after hearing about what the oil spill was doing and the birds -- to all the birds in the gulf region .

    KOTB: So the bird lover and talented artist offered to send her drawings to anybody willing to donate money to the wildlife disaster relief. And so far, she has raised more than $100,000.

    GIFFORD: Olivia , God bless you .

    KOTB: Olivia Bouler 's here. How are you?

    GIFFORD: We're so proud of you. Miss OLIVIA BOULER (11-Year-Old Artist Raising Money For Wildlife Affected By Oil Spill): Thanks.

    KOTB: So what -- you wrote a letter, that's how this whole thing started out?

    Miss BOULER: Mm-hmm.

    KOTB: What did your letter say?

    Miss BOULER: Well, it basically said that I'm willing to help...

    KOTB: Mm-hmm.

    Miss BOULER: ... and I want to draw to raise money for the birds because I want to become an ornithologist and go to Cornell .

    GIFFORD: Well, excuse us.

    KOTB: Hello.

    GIFFORD: You're 10 years old -- she just turned 11 last week.

    KOTB: Wow.

    GIFFORD: So how -- what gives you the courage to write that letter right off...

    KOTB: Mm-hmm.

    GIFFORD: ...and feel like -- you must have been raised by parents who instilled in you that you have great value as a person.

    KOTB: Mm-hmm.

    Miss BOULER: I guess, yeah.

    GIFFORD: Yeah.

    KOTB: And you had visited that Gulf Coast region , right? You were familiar with the area...

    Miss BOULER: Yeah.

    GIFFORD: Part of your family lives there.

    KOTB: ...because your grandfather was there.

    Miss BOULER: Yeah, my grandmother...

    KOTB: Mm-hmm.

    Miss BOULER: ...my grandfather and grandmother live there.

    KOTB: Mm-hmm.

    Miss BOULER: And my cousins and my aunt.

    GIFFORD: So you know how beautiful those white beaches are.

    Miss BOULER: Yeah.

    GIFFORD: They're like sugar.

    Miss BOULER: I swam in those water...

    KOTB: Mm-hmm.

    GIFFORD: Yeah.

    Miss BOULER: ... and I fished and bird-watched.

    GIFFORD: So when you were seeing these pictures on the news, what were you thinking?

    Miss BOULER: It was just so depressing...

    KOTB: Mm-hmm.

    Miss BOULER: ...upsetting. It just...

    GIFFORD: Yeah.

    Miss BOULER: ...it brings you down, right?

    GIFFORD: It sure does.

    KOTB: It does. So did you ever think drawing one of your pictures that you would be able to raise -- I mean, when I heard the number...

    Miss BOULER: No.

    KOTB: ...$100,000 --

    GIFFORD: And counting.

    KOTB: Hello.

    GIFFORD: Because today we want to raise some more. Look at these.

    KOTB: Yeah. Were you surprised by the amount of money you'd raised?

    Miss BOULER: Yes.

    GIFFORD: What's the most somebody paid for one?

    Miss BOULER: I really -- I think it's AOL .

    KOTB: Yeah.

    GIFFORD: Oh.

    Miss BOULER: And they bought one of mine, and they donated $25,000 to the Audubon Society .

    KOTB: Wow.

    GIFFORD: I was going to say I'd match it, but I won't. I wish I could. No, but this is a way anybody can help, right? And I -- what I love is you're inspiring other little kids to find a way that they can help as well. Want to say a shout out to your dad, who's standing over here.

    KOTB: Your dad's here? Hey, come on in.

    GIFFORD: Come on in.

    KOTB: Come sit with us.

    GIFFORD: What did you tell this beautiful young woman growing up to make her on her own go out and do something like this?

    Olivia's Dad: Well, I will tell you, Olivia 's always had a big heart, and she -- this is all her own thing.

    KOTB: It's her own doing.

    Olivia's Dad: Yeah, it's her own...

    KOTB: She's been talented, huh, since she was -- since she was a little, little girl ?

    Olivia's Dad: She's been drawing birds since we can remember.

    KOTB: Yeah.

    Olivia's Dad: I mean, she's -- she really loves Japanese animation ...

    KOTB: Mm-hmm.

    Olivia's Dad: ...and she does a lot of drawing, and she always has drawn, so.

    GIFFORD: Wow.

    KOTB: Well, we wish you such great luck, Olivia .

    Miss BOULER: Thanks.

    KOTB: Keep the money coming in, you're doing great work.

    GIFFORD: You can change the whole world, you know?

    KOTB: Yeah.

    Olivia's Dad: She's going to.

    GIFFORD: And inspire everybody else to do it. Thank you so much , sweetheart.

    KOTB: Thank you. And you...

    GIFFORD: Thank you for raising a beautiful young lady .

    Olivia's Dad: Thank you.

    KOTB: You did. You can go on our Web site , by the way, you guys, and check out the pictures, klgandhoda.com.

    GIFFORD: And you can purchase them, too.

    KOTB: Yep.

msnbc.com
updated 6/11/2010 12:59:42 PM ET 2010-06-11T16:59:42

Olivia Bouler doesn’t have time for anything else these days except to draw and paint. But that’s OK for the artistic fifth-grader, because everything she does is for the birds.

The Islip, N.Y., girl, who turns 11 on Friday, has raised an estimated $80,000 by sending her sketches and paintings of birds to people who donate to organizations helping with relief efforts in the Gulf of Mexico spill disaster.

“I do some in the mornings and some in the afternoons, and weekends are really the time for me get cracking at them,” Olivia told msnbc.com on Thursday in a telephone interview as she and her parents were headed to the Gulf for a visit.

Olivia came up with the idea to help birds in the Gulf four days after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the nation’s worst oil spill. Olivia's father's family grew up in Alabama, and she has spent vacations in the Gulf.

“Olivia heard about the oil spill and she immediately thought of the birds. She’s a bird lover. She knew they were nesting and she knew the spill would bring an incredible change to their habitat,” said her mother, Nadine Bouler.

So Olivia wrote to the National Audubon Society, saying she would like to help by doing drawings and giving the wildlife conservation group any money she raised. She signed it, a bit precociously, “Olivia Bouler, 11 years old and willing to help.”

Thus was born Olivia’s “Save the Gulf” campaign. In addition to purchasing one of Olivia’s drawings, the Audubon Society collaborated with Olivia’s family to create a fundraising program whereby Olivia sends one of her original paintings to anyone who donates to any of several organizations helping wildlife in the Gulf.

Image: Oliva Bouler
Facebook
Oliva Bouler says she wants to be an ornithologist when she grows up.
AOL got on board, giving Olivia her own artist’s gallery on its site and donating $25,000 to Audubon in her name. Appearances on local and national TV followed, and her “Save the Gulf: Olivia’s Bird Illustrations” page on Facebook has now attracted more than 10,000 fans.

Olivia creates her artwork with heavy stock paper, Ebony pencil and watercolors. She has sent out about 150 original illustrations so far and has capped the number at 500, after which contributors will receive limited edition prints, says her mother.

The Audubon Society is overseeing the donation process.

According to wildlife officials, hundreds of pelicans, gulls, sandwich terns and other birds in the Gulf have been have been collected alive with visible oil; more than 100 oiled birds have been found dead. The numbers are expected to rise dramatically as oil blankets the sea, marshalands and the coastline.

"I really wanted to help the birds and I'm really lucky Audubon found out," Olivia says.

Image: Illustration by Olivia Bouler
Olivia Bouler via Facebook
One of Olivia Bouler's illustrations.

It takes Olivia between 15 and 30 minutes to do a drawing. Between that and media queries, there isn't much time for anything else.

"It’s really crazy how many people want my drawings," Olivia says.

"I really don’t mind the publicity. I don’t say I love it. I don’t crave it but I don’t say I hate it either." At school, she says, "some kids are jealous and some kids are like,’ Can I have your autograph?'"

Adds her mother, "She knows it’s for a good cause. She didn’t get into this to be a celebrity. She just wanted to raise some money and awareness."

Olivia’s interest in birds transcends the Gulf. "I want to be an ornithologist," she says matter-of-factly.

Meantime, she says, you don't need artistic talent to pitch in with spill-relief efforts. "Try your best. You can do anything to help."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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