Jane Goodall Puts Faith In New Generations During Colo. Visit

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Photo: Jane Goodall Colorado visit
Conservationist and scientist Jane Goodall stands near chimpanzee art made by Boulder students.

A Boulder school welcomed a world-famous visitor this month.

Renowned conservationist Jane Goodall stopped by Horizons K-8 on Oct. 1 during her visit to Colorado. Goodall no longer does the kind of field work that made her famous -- observing chimpanzees in the Tanzanian jungle. Now, she's largely focused on youth through a worldwide program called "Roots & Shoots."

"I could work hard, hard, hard to do all these things," Goodall said to the crowd that morning. "But if new generations aren't going to grow up and look after the world better than we have, then there's no point. So that's why 'Roots & Shoots' began."

The program began in 1991. Goodall met with 12 teenagers on her back porch in Tanzania. And, as the teens discussed their environmental concerns, Goodall was impressed by their desire to actually do something about these issues.

"Roots & Shoots" is now in 140 countries and there are more than 100 chapters in Colorado. Young people remain at the heart of the program, driving it by identifying the problems and developing solutions.

Photo: Jane Goodall, Roots & Shoots Lakewood chapter member
Ben Brewster, a member of the Green Mountain Home Schoolers "Roots & Shoots" chapter in Lakewood, helps plant a tree at the rally in Boulder on Oct. 1, 2015.

Ben Brewster, 12, belongs to a chapter in Lakewood, and said his group has been busy helping the environment.

"We're helping out, making bird boxes for endangered birds and we are also helping by pulling out invasive weed species," Brewster said.

Goodall spent a few minutes with each chapter at the event. Brewster was thrilled to meet her.

"I'm a big animal lover," he said. "I'd love to do something like she [has done]."

Goodall's visit also included a lecture at University of Colorado Boulder and a trip to the Boulder County Jail to meet with inmates participating in a "Roots & Shoots" class.

She spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner in between her many engagements. Highlights from the conversation are below. Click on the audio above to listen to the full interview.

On being proactive about conservation efforts:

"We're too often told, 'Think globally, act locally.' If you think too long globally, you [can] become very depressed -- you feel very small and very helpless. But if you twist it around, which is the whole point of our 'Roots & Shoots' program, you act locally and you see what you and your friends can do to make a difference."

On what first attracted her to Africa:

"[The children's book] 'Dr. Dolittle' fed my love of animals that I seem to be born with. And there are stories in it, where he rescues circus animals and takes them back to Africa. I loved it. Then came 'Tarzan.' I was 10... and I thought, 'Yes, I'll go to Africa and live with wild animals and write books about them.'"

On "Roots & Shoots" programs in correctional facilities:

"I started a program, maybe 10 years ago, in Pelican Bay State Prison [in Northern California]. And my group of 'Roots & Shoots,' there were seven of them, were all in there for second-degree, first-degree murder. They did a wonderful thing. They found, in that prison, people who could draw. They collected up the best drawings. They got the drawings to their wives, who made little cards, and sold the little cards. The money was used to set up 'Roots & Shoots' in the schools where the inmates [went] with the message, 'Kids, don't follow my path. It's not nice in here.'"

Photo: Roots & Shoots artwork for Jane Goodall