Recognizing a young wildlife artist, advocate

IFAW’s Mark Hofberg toured the Exposure Gallery and Studios’ exhibit “Faces of the Endangered” by wildlife artist Bria Neff

IFAW’s Mark Hofberg recently toured the Exposure Gallery and Studios’ exhibit “Faces of the Endangered” by wildlife artist Bria Neff in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

There are many remarkable things about this solo artist, perhaps most notable is that she is just 9 years old.

Last year, Bria and her talented siblings entered the IFAW Animal Action Education’s 2015 Art and Essay Contest. Bria’s remarkable painting of an African lion was selected as one of the 18 winning entries. When she learned that she was a contest winner, Bria was so inspired she informed her mother that she wanted to do more to protect species in decline. Bria researches endangered and threatened species, depicts these animals in her paintings and sells the pieces.

Lately, she has been donating her profits to IFAW to support IFAW’s mission to rescue and protect animals around the world. In addition to donating to IFAW through her online art sales, Bria has elected IFAW as the designee for paintings sold during her gallery show.

Mark is visiting Sioux Falls and was eager to see Bria’s exhibit. With a Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology and through his work at IFAW he is all too familiar with the grim statistics facing many of Bria’s chosen subjects.

“When you study some of the species IFAW works to protect, you study data that often documents the human-based reasons for myriad species’ decline. It is great to meet someone who with tremendous creativity, talent and ingenuity is doing something to help," says Hofberg, "She is not only donating to IFAW’s conservation mission, she is raising awareness about endangered species on so many levels."

Mark also had the pleasure of bestowing an “Animal Hero” pin to Bria. The pin was created for students who go out of their way to make the world a better place for animals.

Bria is most definitely one of those people!

A primary objective for IFAW’s Animal Action Education program is to empower young people and communities to take positive action for animals. Over the years there have been countless examples of this coming to fruition from all over the world. IFAW’s various offices receive signed classroom, community and family pledges; thousands of students participate annually in IFAW art and essay contests; and each year kids write encouraging letters to IFAW sharing why they also care about animals and how they plan to help.  

Many of us at IFAW deal daily with the grim realities facing many endangered species. Bria’s art and actions are a boost to morale and remind us of why animal education is so critically important. Bria is just 9 years old and she is not only educating others about the plight of many endangered species, she is taking action to help save them.

For over 47 years IFAW has been striving to make the world better for people and animals. It is reassuring that young people like Bria are set to continue the effort!

--KJ

To learn more about IFAW’s Animal Action Education program and its free resources for educators and students, click here.

Visit Bria's Faces of the Endangered Facebook page.

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