Last week, I traveled to the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art (in central PA) to hike some of the trails. It was a beautiful summer day, and I stopped in the building to get a trail map and to fill up my water bottle. I saw that the current gallery exhibit was “Olivia’s Birds,” a collection of watercolor drawings by Olivia Bouler.
As an 11-year-old, Olivia was concerned how the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010 would affect wildlife, especially the birds she loved to study and draw. She contacted the Audubon Society and offered to send one of her drawings to anyone who contributed to the recovery efforts. Her idea resulted in $200,000 in donations!
Her project took off to include a website, a FaceBook page, and a Twitter account. I learned that there is a book of her work (Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf), and she’s also appeared on TV interview programs. The collection on display at Ned Smith’s is the first in a series of traveling exhibits to Audubon centers and other venues. The Ned Smith Center is coordinating the tour and you can contact the Center for more information and dates).
As I walked through the gallery, I was impressed at how the efforts of one person (in this case a young child) could catch on and make a difference. I wondered how many children are in our classes right now who with encouragement and support could also make a difference? What can we as teachers do to help other children find their interests and passions?
Graphic from the Ned Smith Center