Jane Goodall, still making a difference at 87

On a recent road trip, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, "Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard," and Jane Goodall was the guest. If you are not aware of who Jane Goodall is, she studied the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees for 60 years. She is currently 87 years young and is still considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. If you get a chance to listen to her in an interview or otherwise, please do it. She is amazing and continues to make big impacts on the world in the areas of conservation and animal welfare.

In 1977, Jane Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) with the mission to protect the chimpanzees she studied in Gombe, Tanzania, from habitat destruction and illegal trafficking, as well as expand efforts on conservation and environmental education. In 1991, Jane was working with students in Tanzania and discussed how and what young people can do to better the world, and her program “Roots & Shoots” was born. Learning about “Roots & Shoots” was what inspired me to write about Jane and her mission in my column this week.

Roots & Shoots started as a group of 12 Tanzanian students and has grown to become a global movement that has active chapters in over 60 countries. The Roots & Shoots website, rootsandshoots.org, is amazing. It has resources and ideas for youth, educators, and families. There are opportunities to participate in global change through one-click actions or projects that are world-wide. There are resources and guides that help guide groups through starting a community project, with themes that run from climate change, to preserving biodiversity, to projects about equality, equity, and inclusion. 

You can search the theme, age group, and group-type to find projects that you are interested in. If you do not find something, they give you all the tools to start your own! You can recruit friends and neighbors to join your project. This website is also a great resource for scouts or faith-based youth groups looking to start a community project. 

The website is fantastic resource for teachers seeking to design projects for their students that will create a lasting impact on our community. Roots & Shoots provides a simple and flexible program model. The website provides lesson plans for all grades and for both in and out of the classroom.

Youth who participate in programs feel empowered because they are making a difference in their community while simultaneously developing their leadership and decision-making skills and preserving their compassion and value of community service. A free online course is also offered for educators who want to learn more about how to identify and implement a local service-learning campaign. 

Please go online and explore rootsandshoots.org. Talk to the young people and teachers in your lives about this wonderful resource. Let’s empower our youth to begin making a difference today! 

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:12 AM, 05.18.2021