Through her humanitarian work with Haiti Sees, a nonprofit that provides free optic clinics in Haiti and a number of other countries, Morgan Pitman has made her mark in Abu Dhabi, Haiti, Alabama, and beyond. Morgan’s love for her fellow humans has propelled her toward international service from a very young age — her global thinking allows her to have an incredible impact beyond her immediate community.

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

unnamedName: Morgan Pitman
Age: 17
Hometown: Decatur, AL
Compassionate Leadership Traits: Empathetic, Hopeful & Optimistic, Adaptable & Resilient

Roots & Shoots Projects:

Favorite Books:
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Favorite Song: So Will I (100 Billion X) by Hillsong United

What is your favorite Roots & Shoots project that you’ve worked on?
Before I recently moved to the United States, I lived in Abu Dhabi for three years. I was able to help lead the Elementary age Roots & Shoots group every week. It was an awesome experience to be able to teach and share with them about my love for serving people, animals, and the environment. We hosted many events such as Worker Appreciation Days and School Clean-Ups. One awesome benefit of having this relationship with the Elementary Roots & Shoots team is the support I have had for my own personal projects. The kids were always very eager to come and help me decorate, make posters, or host an event. I was always glad to be able to work with them and strengthen their love of service.

What inspires you to be an activist? How did you get started on this work?
Since I was young, I have wanted to help others. It makes me sick to notice an issue and turn a cold shoulder. When I was in middle school, I went on several mission trips, domestic and international, where I began to notice others needs more and more. In the 8th grade, I moved to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and at my school, I had many outlets to expand my service experiences. There I began to center my schooling and my social life around service.

I realized I love to love others. Building relationships and changing lives for the better are what inspire me to be an activist. Being surrounded by people who think my ideas are crazy but let me pursue them anyways, has been one of the most beneficial aspects of me becoming an activist.

Morgan and her Roots & Shoots pals







What has been one of your failures that has taught you something valuable?
Where do I begin? Some days, everything I did felt like a failure. One of the hardest “failures” I encountered was during a simple bake sale I hosted to raise money for Haiti Sees. I had organized, baked, and decorated for days! When it finally came to the day of the bake sale, no one came or bought anything. It was such a frustrating night, but I learned patience from this experience. Up until that point, I really thought I had it all together, but the truth is no one has it all together. We will all eventually have failures in anything we do. It makes it a lot easier though if we learn to let it go as a failure. My failures do not define me, my quality of work, or my effort. They just show me ways to improve.

What advice do you have for other young people who want to get involved in their communities or make a difference in the world?
Jump in! Making a difference can be scary, but there is no time to waste. This world needs you! Go with a sense of urgency. You will have bumps along the way, but don’t worry, you will eventually learn how to smooth it out and move on.

Morgan is Empathetic, Hopeful & Optimistic, and Adaptable & Resilient. 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 Morgan, check out the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC). Want more hands-on advice? Educators and Roots & Shoots groups can invite Morgan 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.

Educators, we’ve designed a free, online course to support you as you grow compassionate leaders through service learning. Join the course.

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.