“The greatest danger to our future is our apathy.”
–– Dr. Jane Goodall
Most of us know about Jane Goodall’s work through our studies in school, where we learned of her work studying chimpanzee habitats, and her conservation and animal welfare efforts.
But far fewer of us know the many ways that Dr. Jane, a UN Messenger of Peace, has catapulted her work in a million different positive directions, from the Jane Goodall Institute –– which “promotes understanding and protection of great apes and their habitat” –– to her program for “youth of all ages”, called Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots.
Through her ongoing work to help animals and other people while protecting our shared world, she activates people to take action in their communities and beyond.
Her campaigns with youth, an often-overlooked but powerful sector of the changemaking community, demonstrates how all of us have the potential to make significant change in the world around us.
We just have to start by paying attention.
I connected with Adrienne Bermingham, National Program Coordinator at Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots USA to learn a bit more about Roots & Shoots, and how the program can support community changemakers.
Why was Roots & Shoots created, and what is its mission? How does R&S connect to Jane Goodall's other work?
As Dr. Jane travels the world speaking about what we humans must do to ensure a positive future for people, other animals, and the environment, it is not uncommon for her to hear sighs of insecurity and even hopelessness. With all the gloom and doom in the news and the state of our natural world, this isn’t too surprising. But Dr. Jane’s message of hope is clear: we must all resolve to make a positive difference and each of us has the power to do so every day.
Dr. Jane founded Roots & Shoots in 1991 as a way to encourage and mobilize young people to take action. Now, Roots & Shoots is a global community of hundreds of thousands of youth in more than 100 countries. What a remarkable force of hopeful, determined, changemakers who are already making the world a better place and one day, will be leaders of corporations, governments, and more, making choices that do the least harm to animals and the environment.
Roots & Shoots is for "youth of all ages" –– how can people of different age groups apply concepts from R&S to their own lives and projects?
People of different age groups can apply the spirit of Roots & Shoots to their daily lives by reflecting on the problems that face their local community and choosing to make a change for the better. Dr. Jane named the program Roots & Shoots to symbolize how the combined actions of many individuals, the “roots,” may seem small, but together they can break through the toughest “rocks,” the world’s problems, to reach their goal.
Throughout the process of designing, implementing, and completing a service project, Roots & Shoots members acquire or strengthen traits and attributes that make them compassionate leaders.
Tell me about the R&S mini-grants. What are they for, what is required, and who can apply?
We award hundreds of mini-grants each year to classrooms, community and family groups, youth leaders––anyone who is leading a service project for people, animals, or the environment. Roots & Shoots mini-grants come in the form of $200 Visa cards that groups in the U.S. can use to buy materials, host events, print club t-shirts, advertise their group, take field trips, and more.
The only requirement is that groups create a community map (and tell us about this process in their application) and report back after they complete the project to tell us how it went.
In the community project development process, community mapping is one of the first steps. What is that and why is it so important?
Community exploration and observation is necessary to understand the needs of community members in order to best serve them. Encouraging young people to take a closer look at their surroundings, be it their town or their school, helps establish a mindset of working for the benefit of the entire community which can include people, animals, and the environment.
The Roots & Shoots community mapping process is adapted from methods used by the Jane Goodall Institute’s conservation experts in Africa who use mapping to improve communities around chimpanzee habitats.
What do you think are the barriers for young people of all ages to start their own projects? How does R&S aim to support individuals in overcoming those barriers?
Feeling like you’re the only one passionate about something is certainly a barrier because a project might seem too big to take on alone. Additionally, many projects require a financial kickstart. When you’re young, possibilities are endless, but chances sometimes seem few. The global Roots & Shoots network offers support and inspiration and Roots & Shoots mini-grants enable young people to become agents of change by allowing them to take the lead on their idea.
R&S has several Facebook groups that people can join. What is the idea behind those groups?
We’re building a community of like-minded individuals who can connect with one another and unify under the R&S goal of working toward a better world. Our global network is vast and far-reaching...this is one way for the community to collaborate and share with one another.
Anything else that you would like to add? / How can people get more involved with R&S?
Roots & Shoots gives people and especially children the chance to be part of an international conservation education organization. No other group in the world sets young people up for as much compassionate growth and learning.
Ways to get involved:
Let's change the world.
Who wrote this?
Gina Edwards, Impact Explorer founder and lover of all pun jokes, making a positive change in the world, Stephen Colbert, Jif Peanut Butter, and staying inside on rainy days. Order may vary.