To find one’s passion in life at a young age is something of a gift. Many of us (me included) did not settle into a lifelong pursuit until much later (and until we’d wasted a ton of our parents’ money on college degrees we don’t use).

So I, for one, am jealous of Bria Neff, who knew at the tender age of 8 that saving animals would be an integral part of her life’s work.

And even though she’s only 13, she hasn’t let her age stop her from making a difference.

At 8, she entered (and won!) an art contest put out by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

When she found out that the fund helped over 6000 endangered and threatened species around the world, Bria felt “sad, angry, and helpless” – and she decided to do something about it.

She began to paint those endangered species and sell the paintings for money that she then donated back to the IFAW.

Bria (and her mom) set up a Facebook page where she could publish her art, share news about the animals, and help spread awareness about their plight.

With some help from Facebook and UpWorthy, Bria has raised and donated almost $70,000 in 5 years, with her largest single sale being $25,000 for a wolf painting that sold at auction.

She’s created more than 300 paintings overall, each as unique as the animals in them, and makes sure that all of her donations go to organizations who work directly to save endangered species.

Bria wants the world to know that kids who are into activism can make a difference, and that she believes her generation will change the world.

She encourages other kids to stand up and speak out about whatever their passion is, and to support others who do the same.

It’s not easy, or popular, but “being true to yourself is the bravest thing you can do.”

Bria Neff is wise beyond her years, talented for days, and is the kind of human being we can all look up to, no matter our age.