Jane As An Educator

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“Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved.” – Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane often reminds us that “the greatest danger to our future is apathy,” and that ensuring a future for all animals and our environment begins with understanding. Much of our education about the natural world begins with our own sense of wonder…like when young Jane sought out to discover how chickens laid their eggs. But many of us owe our true understanding and appreciation for the Earth to our educators; that is, the patient and generous individuals who shared their knowledge with us and helped us to imagine our role as global citizens.

As she travels more than 300 days a year sharing her wisdom with people all over the world, Dr. Jane continues to inspire in her role as an educator. She asks people to consider the small choices that they make each day — like what they buy, eat, and wear. She shares why she is a vegetarian and how this choice can make an impact. She reminds us to find hope in the next generation and help equip them with the knowledge and resources to take on big problems. Most importantly, Dr. Jane highlights the importance of working together in order to achieve the greatest impact – that when our head and heart work together, we will reach our full human potential.

Dr. Jane has also served as a formal educator for many.* Below, a few of her former students reflect on their experiences.

“I was lucky enough to go straight to Gombe after finishing my undergraduate degree in zoology.  This opportunity changed my life and set me on the path to my career as a scientist. I learned from Jane how to follow the chimpanzees and record their behavior. Jane was truly remarkable in her passion, patience, persistence and open mindedness in learning about chimpanzees.  She is an incredibly astute observer, noticing every detail of behavior, carefully recording details of individual differences, and always wondering about the causes and significance of what she is seeing.  She taught me to be sensitive to the chimpanzees’ behavior, never to disturb them or get in their way and always to be on the alert for new and interesting behavior.  This training was invaluable when I went on to study lions in the Serengeti, and I have tried to pass on these lessons to my students who have continued to study the Gombe chimpanzees in recent years.”

Anne Pusey
Oxford University (B.A./M.A.), Stanford University (Ph.D.)
Arrived at Gombe National Park in 1970 as a Research Assistant to Dr. Jane.
James B. Duke Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University
Oversees the Jane Goodall Research Institute Center at Duke University

“Jane has had a prodigious influence on my work as a teacher. She has taught me how to be patient and observant. She has taught me that all animals have a social emotional life. She has taught me about the interdependency of animals and the environment. Above all, she has taught me about humanity, hope, and mindful living. Jane is a quintessential educator who has taught me how to empower children to affect change through Roots & Shoots.”

Smita Dharsi
Has known Jane since she was a child.
Educator at Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ

“For me, when I look at Dr. Jane as a teacher, I am always feeling more energy! You know when you are working very hard and you are inspiring many kids, and you need to get more energy? She does this, she inspires the way you feel. She makes you feel that if you do not do something, maybe nobody else will, and so you must do it. But rather than just giving you the instructions, or the knowledge, or information that anybody else could give you; it is more of the passion, it is more of the power, it is more of the empowerment that she gives when she speaks with you. She gives you the courage and the confidence, rather than giving you the instructions. She is the teacher, that whenever you do some mistake, she does not say Why? No! This is wrong. She always says, Yes, but maybe you could do this, or this. She gives you the hope and good courage that helps you become more responsible, and helps you see that what you do will be able to impact many many young people, and also their parents the communities-at-large. ”

Japhet Jonas Mwanang’ombe
Joined Roots & Shoots in 1992, one year after the program was founded in Dar es Salaam.
Roots & Shoots Coordinator, JGI Tanzania

“I remember in 2000, when I met her. I was just a refugee, and I had no hope, and I didn’t know what would happen back in my country [the DRC]. But something Dr. Jane said to me, I have based my life on it. She said, whatever the situation is, complicated, whatever. You don’t know about tomorrow. But just follow your vision, follow your dream and never give up. And one day you’ll see your dream come true. At that time I have the dream to see Roots & Shoots in my country, and now we have more than 6,000 Roots & Shoots members in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I learned that if somebody never gives up, and they fight for a positive vision, then one day they will see their dream come true. So for me Dr. Jane is a lesson of hope. A lesson that whatever violence we have, the many difficulties in the world, if we just continue to work and to believe our dream, and to never give up, we’ll see one day this better world that we hoped for. ”

John Shabani
Met Dr. Jane 16 years ago while living in a refugee camp in Tanzania, where he lived after escaping the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Environmental Education and Roots & Shoots Program Manager, JGI DRC

FB 2017 CourseYou’re invited to become a student of Dr. Jane’s through the Roots & Shoots FREE online course, Growing Compassionate Young Leaders Through Service Learning. As a participant of the course, you’ll hear from Dr. Jane as a special guest instructor and learn how to mentor young people to lead change in their communities. Click here to learn more and register.


*1971 – 1975 Visiting Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Program of Human Biology, Stanford University, Calif., USA

From 1973 Honorary Visiting Professor in Zoology, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

1987 – 1988 Adjunct Professor of the Department of Environmental Studies, Tufts University, School of Veterinary Medicine, Boston, Mass., USA

1990 Associate, Cleveland Natural History Museum, Cleveland, OH, USA

1990 Distinguished Adjunct Professor, Departments of Anthropology and Occupational Therapy, University of Southern California, Calif., USA

1996 – 2002 Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large, Cornell University, NY, USA

About Author

Adrienne earned a master of science degree in anthrozoology (the study of human-animal interactions) from Canisius College in 2014 where she also completed her undergraduate studies in political science. She has worked with the Jane Goodall Institute's youth program, Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots since 2011. Adrienne has served for the past two years as their Program Coordinator. In addition, she has been involved with TEDxBuffalo, WNY's independently organized TEDx event, since 2012 and served as the director of the event in 2014 and 2015.