Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. -Dr. Jane Goodall
Last evening I attended a dinner at the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster (also known as the Parliament Building) honouring Dr. Jane Goodall. In case you don’t recall the name, Jane Goodall was the first person to study chimpanzees as both a species and as a society. Early in the 1960s she made groundbreaking observations that chimps used tools (they stripped the leave off twigs to poke into ant hills and fish out ants to eat) and that they have strong social bonds in a society showing great compassion and even altruism. Her 50 years of research and writings have helped mankind become more connected to the environment and the animal species we share it with.
I first met Jane Goodall in 1970 when I was a graduate student in biology at Harvard University and recently connected with her through a good friend, Robert Eden, who is the Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute. She is both a pioneering scientist and a tireless campaigner for environmental awareness and saving the planet from our own destructive actions. She has written several moving books about her work and was recently named by the United Nations as an official Messenger of Peace.
But what Dr. Goodall is most proud of is her global youth education program called Roots and Shoots. In her own words:
“Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light, they can break open brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds of thousands of roots & shoots, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls. We CAN change the world.”
And I do mean global. What began as an environmental awareness education program for a few local schools in Tanzania in 1991, now has Roots and Shoots programs in 123 countries. In the UK alone there are over 1,000 school groups participating, from entry level to college students. And the young people are motivated to conduct environmental action and education programs that they design themselves.
Earlier this year I attended a UK Roots and Shoots Awards Ceremony at the London Zoo. I have never seen such passionate and motivated young people, and so knowledgeable about the environment. One of the prize winning school groups persuaded the administration of their school to only purchase Fair Trade products (the entire school now uses only Fair Trade products) and at the same time began a school-wide recycling project as well as an organic garden that provides a large percentage of the vegetables used in the school cafeteria. And it was all developed and managed by the kids themselves. To me this is the beginning of real leadership training – seeing a problem and enrolling others to help solve it.
You really should look into the Roots and Shoots program and if your school isn’t yet involved, then help start a Roots and Shoots program. Download some of the videos of Jane Goodall and watch them with your children. Get active, get involved. We can’t save the planet for ourselves, but we can for our children and their children.
Also, the Jane Goodall Foundation needs your financial support as well as good business people to get involved and help out. When your children ask what you are doing to help save the planet, what is your response? After all it’s our generation that created the problem of escalating environmental destruction. We have the obligation of leadership to begin to put things right!
If you want to help in a big way, contact my friend, Robert Eden, Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org The leadership legacy of Jane Goodall needs to grow and spread, now more than ever.
Tight Lines . . .
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