11-year-old artist sells painting, uses money to save endangered species

Published: Feb. 20, 2018 at 4:02 PM CST
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Most times you hear stories about kids who get to meet their adult role models.

Tonight we're introducing you to an 11-year-old Sioux Falls girl who just might inspire some adults with the work she has done and contiunes to do and it is getting noticed.

Lots of kids draw and paint.

But few of them paint with a passion like 11-year-old Bria Neff does. "i always loved painting and drawing and i love animals."

Bria is in 5th grade.

About three years ago she entered some of her animal artwork in a contest sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

A contest she won. But she earned something more than just bragging rights. Sshe learned that worldwide 3,000 species of animals are considered endangered and that's when her artwork transformed from a pasttime to something with purpose. "I thought I could use my time and talents to showcase endangered species and their environmental challenges."

She started...on her own...a project called "Faces of the Endangered".

She paints endangered animals....and then she sells those paintings...and the money she earns? She donates it to organziations that work to save the species whose existance is being threatened. So far her paintings have raised more than $13,000 for the cause. "I'm doing something I love and I'm helping to save endangered species too."

She's not doing this work to get recognized or to earn praise.

But she's getting it anyway.

Prudential Insurance has recognized Bria as South Dakota's top youth volunteer as part of their 'Spirit of Community Awards'. "I was really shocked and really excited."

The award comes with a $1,000 prize.

Bria says she's not going to pocket the money. She already has a use for it. "I am going to use some to buy new art supplies and some to save up to get more canvases."

And when we asked Bria about being recognized in this way she told us it's not about her. It's about the idea that kids can change the world....right now...if they want to. "It doesn't matter how old you are. Start with something small, do something you love and you can make a difference."

Part of the award also involves Bria going to Washington D.C.....where she will visit the capitol and the Smithsonian Museum.