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“Eleven years old and willing to help.” with those words a Long Island youngster ended her letter to Audubon and launched an amazing awareness campaign. She proved that no one, no matter what their age, is powerless to help, even in the face of America’s worst environmental disaster. 

The art and heartfelt commitment of Olivia Bouler—whose bird artwork was featured in our July-August issue—made her a media and online phenomenon. Single-handedly she raised $150,000 for Audubon’s emergency response to the Gulf oil disaster and for our vital long-term restoration work. Olivia’s story confirms that we can all make a difference, often in surprising ways.

On the Mississippi coast, Linda Caruso, a longtime birder, Biloxi resident, and retired teacher, trains and guides less experienced volunteers who monitor beaches and other locations to report on bird populations and habitat health as part of Audubon’s Coastal Bird Survey. The information gathered is critical to planning for long-term Gulf restoration.

In Florida, Audubon bird stewards help identify and mark sensitive habitats to prevent unintended damage by cleanup crews. Other volunteers provide scheduling and support for bird rescue and rehab efforts. Some staff the volunteer center phone lines, offering the accurate information essential to allay fears and address conservation challenges. 

Further from the coast, volunteers connect with Audubon Chapters and Centers to work toward the protection and enhancement of habitats critical to species affected by the disaster, and to educate others about the roles they can play.

Of course, much of the activity is far from the romantic image of volunteers rushing to the coast to rescue and clean oiled birds. But it is no less important. In fact, you can make a difference, too, even without a major time commitment.

In the weeks and months to come, lawmakers and government agencies will look into the causes of the disaster and how similar crises can be prevented in the future.  Together, we can insist on meaningful steps. Your voice can help secure needed protections for and investments in wildlife and habitat. We can help lawmakers encourage the essential move away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner, renewable energy that can generate new jobs and sustainable economic growth. 

You’ll be informed about the BP disaster and other pressing issues on the pages that follow. But far more is also available from audubonmagazine.org and from special email updates that will give you new insights and opportunities to make your voice heard. 

The best way to start is to sign up here. While you’re there, please give us your email address and let us know about your interests in getting issue updates and being a part of our activist network. Then check out the latest on the BP disaster and on other pressing conservation issues.

As an Audubon member, you have already shown your concern for birds, other wildlife, and the health of the environment we share. The Gulf crisis is a vivid reminder that we all have a role to play in protecting these cherished assets. From an 11-year-old ambassador for the Gulf to tens of thousands of Audubon volunteers and activists, people nationwide are stepping up to show that they have the power to make a difference. Please, add your name to the list.

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