Westminster teams up with Goodall
In 1991, Jane Goodall sat on the front porch of her home in Tanzania, Africa, and talked with 18 high school students who were concerned about the future of the environment.
As they discussed their concerns and frustrations, Goodall said a decision was made to do something.
The result was Roots & Shoots, a program dedicated to creating healthy ecosystems and promoting activism among youths.
Since then, Roots & Shoots has grown to include more than 7,500 groups in more than 90 countries, she said. And during a lecture to more than 400 people Friday in Salt Lake City, Goodall announced that Westminster College will serve as a regional center for the program - only the fifth such center in the United States.
"Roots provide a firm foundation and, while shoots are small, together they can break through a brick wall, the wall of problems we've inflicted on the world," she said. "Hundreds of thousands of young people can make a difference and break through the wall."
Every group in the organization tackles three projects, Goodall said, one to better the human community, one to improve life for animals and one to improve the environment. Each group chooses its own projects based on community need, she added.
The $50 ticket price for the event Friday, along with proceeds from a dinner Goodall will attend tonight, will help establish the regional center.
For more than 40 years, Goodall has studied chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania, garnering her international fame as a primatologist. Before her lecture, Goodall was presented with the President's Medal for exemplary achievement by Westminster President Michael Bassis, an award he jokingly called "the crowning jewel of her career."
Goodall is credited with discovering a number of similarities between chimpanzees and humans but said she has seen the population of chimps - the animal she calls "our closest relative" - decline from more than 2 million to fewer than 200,000.
Goodall also warned those in attendance about the dangers of pollution and exploitation of forests and other natural resources.
"What an extraordinary species we are," she said. "We have this extraordinary brain, so why are we destroying the planet? I think what happens, is that there's a disconnect between this extraordinary brain and the heart."
Still, Goodall said, "the power of the mind, the resiliency of nature, the indomitable human spirit and the energy of children" give her hope for the future.
"If we all do our bit, we're going to make a great change," she said. "There is hope, but it depends on us."