12-year-old Bria Neff Celebrated for Excellent Acts

Celebrating Acts of Excellence, One Act at a Time

The Acts of Excellence program connects us with individuals and organizations who are building a culture of excellence in South Dakota, one act at a time.

Please join us and area inductees to celebrate this Act of Excellence on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 from 4:30 to 6 pm at Sanford Health’s Imagentics Building in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. See all of the event details here:

Using Art to Raise Awareness of Endangered Species

Image of Brian Neff, 12-year-old artist

A 12-year-old Sioux Falls girl is using her talent as an artist and passion for the welfare of animals to raise awareness of the plight of endangered species on the planet. Bria Neff has raised more than $13,000 by selling and displaying her paintings of vulnerable animals and landscapes. A year ago, she was recognized as the South Dakota winner of the “Doodle4Google’’ competition for her doodle, “Wild and Free,’’ featuring endangered and critically endangered animals, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Her passion developed when, as an eight-year-old, she entered and won an art contest sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. A news release from Prudential said that, during the art competition, Bria learned of the more than 3,000 endangered species around the world. “I was so upset I told my mom I wanted to do something about it,’’ Bria said. She decided to create paintings of the endangered animals, sell the artwork and donate the proceeds to organizations that work to preserve those species. In the last three years she had devoted more than 500 hours to the task; painting, researching, educating and raising awareness of endangered animals. Her mother, Amity Neff, said, “I don’t know if she really realizes what she has accomplished. I told her people are paying attention.’’

Bria was also a state honoree and flew to DC to represent S.D. in the Prudential Spirit of Community awards in addition to flying to New York where her art was auctioned off for 15,000.

The following is a press release for a national award that Bria received in September of 2018:

Boulder, CO, September 17, 2018 – Bria Neff, age 12, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has been named a winner of the 2018 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. Each year, the Barron Prize celebrates 25 inspiring, public-spirited young people from across the U.S. and Canada who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment. Fifteen top winners each receive $10,000 to support their service work or higher education.

Bria founded Faces of the Endangered (www.pigtailsart.com) to protect endangered species through the sale of her artwork. She has sold over 250 paintings of endangered animals to people around the world and has donated more than $34,000 to animal conservation groups. Beneficiaries include the Jane Goodall Institute, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and the Wolf Conservation Center in New York state. A member of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program, Bria has also published two educational coloring books, including one for the Great Plains Zoo near her home; proceeds help fund the care of the zoo’s endangered species. She uses her website and Facebook page to highlight the challenges facing endangered animals, inspiring followers in 48 countries.

Bria began her work as an 8-year-old, when she won an art contest sponsored by IFAW. She was shocked to learn there are over 3,000 endangered species and decided to combine her passion for painting with her love of animals to showcase species in danger of extinction. She carefully researches each animal before painting it in an effort to convey the specific conservation challenges it faces. She has sold and shipped paintings to nearly every U.S. state and as far as Australia, Germany, and Hong Kong. “I hope my paintings can give endangered animals a face so they don’t disappear,” says Bria. “And I hope I can inspire kids like me to believe they can do great things.”

The Barron Prize was founded in 2001 by author T. A. Barron and was named for his mother, Gloria Barron. Each year’s 25 Barron Prize young heroes reflect the great diversity of America. They are female and male, urban and rural, and from various backgrounds. Many of them have focused on helping their communities and fellow beings; many others have focused on protecting the environment.

“Nothing is more inspiring than stories about heroic people who have truly made a difference to the world,” says Barron. “And we need our heroes today more than ever. Not celebrities, but heroes – people whose character can inspire us all. That is the purpose of the Gloria Barron Prize: to shine the spotlight on these amazing young people so that their stories will inspire others.”

For more information, visit http://www.barronprize.org

Act of Excellence submitted by the Student Learning Garden Arts Academy SF

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