Goodall's hope renewed with new program
May 23, 2005
Salt Lake Tribune
By Brooke Adams
Her beloved Fifi, one of the chimpanzees Jane Goodall came to know at the start of her work in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania in the 1960s, is gone, last seen in September.
But the discovery of two new monkey species in Brazil and the Arkansas sighting of a woodpecker feared extinct - "These are the things that give you hope," Goodall said Sunday.
The famed primatologist's sense of hope is being renewed, too, through growing interest in her Roots & Shoots program, aimed at involving youth in community service and educational projects that better communities, animals and the environment.
Such programs in Utah and surrounding states will get a boost from founding of an Intermountain West Regional Center for Roots & Shoots at Westminster College, Goodall said Sunday during a press conference. It is the fifth center in the United States.
"For Roots & Shoots to work, it must belong to the place it is going," Goodall said, calling Westminster an "ideal partner to help it grow in Utah."
Goodall visited Utah last week to raise funds for Roots & Shoots, visit with students involved in the program and give a public lecture. On Friday, she received the President's Award for Exemplary Achievement from Westminster College for her "heroic service to our planet and all of its inhabitants."
Begun in 1991, Roots & Shoots has now spread to 91 countries. Goodall started the program after discovering schools in Tanzania didn't offer students lessons in animal behavior or environmental issues.
Her goal: find a way to give hope and empower young people to make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment.
"Its main message is every individual makes a difference, and every individual matters," she said.
The program's name represents the good foundation for growth provided by roots and the ability of a plant shoot to break through any obstacle.
Roots & Shoots spread to the United States in 1993, really taking off two years later, Goodall said. Groups now exist in every state, with projects tailored to ages and locales of participants.
Its champions include bicyclist Lance Armstrong, whom Goodall said has agreed to promote the program during an upcoming cross-country tour sponsored by the Discovery Channel.
Details of the new partnership with Westminster are still being worked out, said college President Michael Bassis. Once in place, the center's staff will work with youth groups in churches, schools, scout groups, etc., on local projects and link them to similar groups in the state, country and around the world.
Ty Harrison, chairman of Westminster College's biology department, describes Roots & Shoots as "one of the best methods to reach into the community with an environmental message."
Harrison said he hoped Goodall's message helps people realize she is more than just a primate researcher.
"There are many more important things for the public to consider than chimpanzees," he said.
Already in Utah, some 52 groups representing youths ranging from age 4 to 24 have joined Roots & Shoots. Among them: students at Escalante Elementary School, who developed a means to funnel water from a soccer field to a nearby vacant field to create a wetland, said Phyllis Hockett, associate vice president for development at Westminster.
"I am most proud of the number of lives it has changed, young people who have found a purpose in their lives," Goodall said. "It's a grass-roots program in the very best possible sense.