Wendy is Proof that Youth Aren’t Just the Future, They’re the Present


Ever since I was young, I have read about Dr. Jane Goodall’s story. From her special bond with animals, to the awareness she tries to raise around the world, Dr. Goodall has been a role model for me. I was unsure how to follow in her footsteps until I discovered the (Roots & Shoots) NYLC.

At 18 years old, Wendy is what some would see as a ‘carefree teenager.’ But when it comes to issues that matter, Wendy Wu proves that you don’t have to be a certain age to make a difference. While Wendy is getting ready to enter college, she uses her spare time to educate elementary and middle school students about different endangered animals by teaching them how to draw with her JGI Roots & Shoots project, The Art of STEM. Determined to bring creativity into her activism and inspired by Jane, Wendy Wu is taking action on her own terms, demonstrating that you don’t choose between your love of science and art to create positive change.


So who is Wendy Wu?

Name: Wendy Wu
Age: 18
Hometown: Marlboro, New Jersey
Compassionate Leadership Traits: Enthusiasm, Commitment, Creativity

Roots & Shoots Projects:

  • The Art of STEM
  • High School Solar Shed
  • High School Vertical Garden
  • World Water Day activities
  • SPLASH and Snacks with Scientists
  • Environmental Science Research Projects
  • Garden Irrigation System

Favorite Book: Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Favorite Song: Perfect by Ed Sheeran

Favorite “Lazy Day” Activity: Staying at home to read a book or watching TV shows

Wendy’s community outreach project, The Art of STEM, was created to teach students about endangered animals to inspire them to think about their responsibility for the environment around them. She incorporated her passion for art by teaching them how to draw the animals they were learning about each day. She encourages her students to spread the word about not only her project, but also about other Roots & Shoots projects so that they can become inspired to start projects of their own.

I prize these pinnacles of community service projects, where a tinge of color splashes onto background knowledge, where I see science and nature interconnect and complement each other. I have fallen under the spell of service, from the magic of the esoteric end impact and more to the beauty of the process itself.

Wendy has been a member of the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) for four years. As part of the NYLC, Wendy receives support, leadership training and guidance from the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots & Shootsstaff. Wendy along with the rest of the council share what they’ve learned with hundreds of thousands of Roots & Shoots members around the world as JGI’s R&S youth representatives.

From learning essential community mapping skills to tips on fundraisers, to forming a club as the caretaker of my school’s environment, I have earned new knowledge and recognition from working with hands-on models and comprehensive analyses. It became the springboard for me to establish my own Roots & Shoots Club at my school to have more local influences.

There are always challenges one must face when trying to make a difference. Once she had set up her Roots & Shoots club, Wendy had to think creatively for ways to boost participation and gain more influence in her community. On that point, Wendy shares, “My advice for young people is to take initiative and seek out opportunities that don’t seem possible. Despite the excitement and initiative of becoming a national youth leader, many challenges arose at first in implementing projects in my community. Even when you are not getting the enthusiastic response you hoped for from your community, your passion and the value of your work will help you to gather the awareness and attention to make a difference.”

3Wendy possesses all of the skills and traits of a Roots & Shoots compassionate leader. Fostering these traits in young people is the best way to build a better future for all— 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 and start your own Roots & Shoots project here.

To learn more about influential young leaders like Wendy, check out the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) and click here to apply. Want more hands-on advice? Educators and Roots & Shoots groups can invite Wendy 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.


The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

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