Primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall addressed Overland students and faculty on August 21, 2012, with the greeting call of a chimpanzee. She brought a message of hope for young people, encouraging them to follow their dreams and never give up trying to achieve them.
Goodall, an expert in the social relations of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, travels the world nearly 300 days a year speaking about her four passions – youth, intellect, the resilience of nature, and indomitable human spirit.
In 1991, Dr. Goodall met with a group of teenagers who were concerned about problems that were happening in their neighborhood. Their discussion covered topics ranging from pollution, to deforestation, to animal welfare. Goodall recognized that many young people felt a similar sense of anger and loss of hope, blaming the previous generation for compromising their future. She encouraged them to find a problem in the world, gather their friends that shared a concern for this problem, and to work towards a solution.
From this first meeting on her veranda in Tanzania, the group Roots and Shoots was born. The Roots and Shoots program encourages young people from pre-kindergarten to the university level to effect a local or global change that is three-fold – it should impact people, animals, and the environment. The Jane Goodall Institute offers ideas for projects but encourages students to find their own passion to follow. They must ask themselves, "What can we do to put things right?"
Characters from books, such as Dr. Doolittle and Tarzan, inspired Jane to follow her passion. Despite the ridicule and dissuasion of others, Jane took advantage of opportunities such as working alongside anthropologist Louis Leakey, that would lead her toward her dream of working with chimps in Africa. Constantly following her mother's advice, Goodall continued to pursue what she loved and would not give up.
Dr. Goodall passes along her mother's good advice everywhere she travels.
In closing, Goodall asked students to consider beginning a Roots and Shoots chapter at Overland. She told them to think of the small roots that first shoot out of a small seed. Through perseverance and time, those tiny roots gather the strength to bust through boulders and walls. Young people may feel powerless to change the world alone but should consider the potential of many passionate people working together.
The DisneyNature DVD, entitled "Chimpanzee," is now available for sale. A percentage of this week's purchases will benefit the Jane Goodall foundation. http://www.janegoodall.org/media/news/disneynature-chimpanzee-dvd