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Penguins Inspire a Second Grader's Philanthropy

Story by
Nancy Joseph
Viola Miller

Viola Miller, 8, got an early start on supporting UW research. 

“I love penguins!” That’s how Viola Miller, age 8, began her note to penguin researcher Dee Boersma, UW professor of biology and Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science.  Accompanying the note was a $6 donation toward Boersma’s work. Viola made the donation earlier this month, proving that it’s never too early to start giving.

“After a lesson about compassion at school, Viola came to me with three dollars from her piggy bank and said she wanted to give to something in nature,” recalls Jessica Balsam, Viola’s mother. Jessica’s job is all about private support to the UW—she works on prospect management for University Advancement—so she suggested a few options, including Boersma’s research.  “Viola really lit up when I mentioned the penguin research,” says Jessica. “Then she went to her room and got three more dollars and wrote a note to send along with it.”

If only all donors would double their gifts that quickly!

Learn more about Dee Boersma's penguin research

letter from Viola Miller to Dee Boersma