I talk all day, every day, about Roots & Shoots and its impact on not just the beneficiaries of our youth-led projects, but also its impact on the individual. Knowing that you’re not out here alone trying to leave this planet better than you found it, but that you’re also part of a global movement of people—some expressive, some contemplative, some who consider themselves activists, some who prefer to make waves behind the scenes. Nothing makes that more clear than when you can spend a week in the same house with 25 people from all around the world who are all making a difference and growing in such important and much-needed ways in the name of Roots & Shoots. This past week, I got to do just that.
I’ve worked for JGI USA for seven years, and now have the honor of leading the Roots & Shoots program in the United States. And about three weeks ago, I received the much-coveted invitation to represent the Roots & Shoots program in the United States at the 6th annual Roots & Shoots Global Leadership Gathering at Windsor Castle.
And as if it couldn’t get any better, I had the tremendous opportunity to be joined by Yanni Pappas, a young man who I’ve had the pleasure of working with for about four years now as part of our Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) & College Council. Yanni personifies the Roots & Shoots philosophy, having started a small Roots & Shoots group in his hometown in high school, to leading initiatives with teams now that he’s in college. The one thing I’ve come to know and love about this Roots & Shoots family is that once you are part of it, there is not one day that passes that you don’t make at least one choice…one decision grounded in compassion, and with an understanding of the interconnectedness of everything around us.
The Windsor gathering of Roots & Shoots change-makers from all around the world is a special experience. Allow me to share why.
When in Windsor…
You’ll wake up early, go to bed late, and spend all the moments in between fueling your reasons for hope, compassion, and action. You’ll meet young people and Roots & Shoots program coordinators from all over the world (25 different countries this year!) who are using the gifts of their lives to make a difference.
You’ll share space with do-ers. Not people who complain about problems, but with people who are rolling up their sleeves, taking action, and learning and growing in the process. You’ll hear presentations about all of their Roots & Shoots projects back home, and about their work from all over the world.
You’ll work together to design campaigns that you will launch and lead throughout the year even after this gathering has ended.
You’ll eat delicious vegetarian meals prepared by a dedicated and talented staff at the St. George’s House.
You’ll learn. You’ll laugh. You’ll be challenged. You’ll grow.
You’ll see first hand that despite all the challenges we face on this planet, there is a global movement of people who know that their everyday actions matter, and who lead by their example—no matter how big or small.
And if you’re lucky, you may also meet a pretty cool Prince :).
I know a very smart woman who once said, “…every individual makes a difference.” If the stories shared in that house of all of people using their lives all over the world to make positive differences are any indication of humanity and where we’re headed, I feel pretty confident that there is hope.
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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.