Everyone knows her as the lady who lived with the chimpanzees and have watched her National Geographic Specials, but what many don’t realize is that Dr. Jane Goodall has established one of the most far-reaching volunteer organizations for young people called Roots & Shoots. I became aware of the Roots & Shoots program while watching a documentary on Dr. Goodall. I was so impressed with what I heard that I did a little research on the program, and this is what I found when I visited the webpage:
“In 1991, a group of 16 local teenagers met with Dr. Jane Goodall on her back porch in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. They were eager to discuss the deforestation, pollution and poverty they saw in their community that was causing them deep concern. These motivated young people wanted to learn, but more than that they wanted to take action, and they hoped to inspire their peers to join the effort. Dr. Jane was impressed by their compassion, their energy and their desire to develop grassroots solutions to problems.
These young people, with Dr. Jane’s guidance, founded the first Roots & Shoots group, starting a network that now includes 150,000 young people working on service projects in 110 countries worldwide.
The Roots & Shoots model is a simple yet holistic approach that maximizes youth engagement. Projects are driven by the interests and abilities of the participants; members are given tools to identify issues in their communities and encouraged to develop projects to address the issues that matter most to them. Members start community gardens, do eco-audits of large corporate offices or save local populations of turtles. The types of projects vary, based on age, interests and community needs, but the common thread across Roots & Shoots service projects is our proven methodology.”
The projects outlined on the Roots & Shoots website go from as simple as stringing cereal and dried fruit to make necklaces to helping feed chimpanzees to more in-depth projects like forming an urban garden to help feed the homeless and less fortunate.
So if your council is looking for projects to engage younger people – and even potential Join Hands Day projects – you might want to visit the Roots & Shoots website. See also Dr. Goodall’s online course Turning Learners into Leaders: Empowering Youth Through Service in Education.