When you’re in high school, a lot can seem out of reach, but not if you’re Anna Schilling. Anna recently organized a fundraiser for the Jane Goodall Institute by hosting a 3K Fun Run and selling event T-shirts — she raised $1000! Within her first two years as a member Roots & Shoots, Anna has made enormous strides by working to restore local habitats, making Valentine’s Day gifts for sick children, and building Mason Bee houses all in the name of bettering her community.

Through the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC), Anna receives support, leadership training and guidance from the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots & Shoots staff. Anna and the rest of the council are JGI youth representatives can share what they’ve learned with hundreds of thousands of Roots & Shoots members around the world.

Anna S_1Name: Anna Schilling
Age: 16
Hometown: Lake Bluff, Illinois
Compassionate Leadership Traits: Acts with a Purpose, Inspires Peers, Empathic

Roots & Shoots Projects:

Favorite Book: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Favorite Song: Blackbird by The Beatles

What inspires you to be an activist? How did you get started in this work?  

Throughout the course of my life, and as a result of the culture of my schools, I have been introduced to many community service programs.  At a very young age, the students at my elementary and middle school were strongly encouraged to give back to the community and to work to make the world a better place. We would work with different organizations a to find something we were passionate about.  When we started to work with Lake Forest Opens Lands, I realized my passion was helping to create a healthier environment. I applied to a program at the Center for Conservation Leadership. I knew that I wanted to commit so much of my life to making a positive difference in my community, specifically the environment.

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Describe a Roots & Shoots project that demonstrates your passion.

I researched, designed, created and installed a group of Mason Bee Houses at Lake Forest Country Day School (LFCDS).  As part of the project, I taught the students at LFCDS about Mason Bees and the importance of pollinators to the local ecosystem and the environment generally. Additionally, through a series of presentations at different elementary and middle schools, I educated nearly 500 students about Mason Bees, pollinators, and Roots & Shoots. Part of my interest in Mason Bees stemmed from my experiences participating in and working for Lake Forest Open Lands and the Center for Conservation Leadership, two important local environmental conservation groups. In addition to the educational mission of these organizations, I’ve spent countless hours doing hands-on work removing invasive, seeded natives, and teaching younger students about how to maintain a healthy environment.

What advice do you have for other young people who want to get involved in their communities or make a difference for the world?  

The piece of advice I would give to younger people that want to get involved is to just do it! Start by looking for anything that might interest you and get involved. Then you can grow from this, make connections, and help make a change in the world that is incredible.

unnamed-1Anna acts with purpose, inspires peers, and is empathetic. In fact, she possesses all of the skills and traits of a compassionate leader. Fostering these traits in young people is our way of working toward a better future — one where leaders from the playground to the boardroom make decisions that are good for people, other animals, and the environment. Read more about compassionate leadership skills and traits here.

Compassionate Leadership Skills and Traits

To learn more about influential young leaders like Anna, check out the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC). Want more hands-on advice? Educators and Roots & Shoots groups can invite Anna or another member of the NYLC to visit or Skype with their classroom/group to talk about their Roots & Shoots work and share tips for a future service campaign! Click here to learn more.

About Author

Susan Janowsky is a Jane Goodall Institute Roots & Shoots intern and current senior at Tufts University studying Art History and Anthropology with a focus on Human-Animal Interaction. On campus she is involved in Tufts Animal Welfare, Hillel, and Ski Team. Her passion for animals and conservation has led her to where she is today. Susan has been on an archeological dig in Belize, worked with camels in New York, and has a very handsome labradoodle, Pepper.