Standing Together While Apart: Youth Action During the Pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic challenged each of us in ways that we couldn’t have expected; schools were shut down, programs were canceled, and young people everywhere had to find new ways of standing up together for what they believe in. We are so proud of our Roots & Shoots members for showing their adaptability during these strange times by continuing to create positive impact in their communities. That’s the incredible power of hope—it keeps us moving forward, even when the light at the end of the tunnel seems impossible to reach. 

Roots & Shoots project Neighborhood Trash Clean Up

One achievement we are really proud of from the past year was updating the Roots & Shoots website! The new Roots & Shoots website makes it possible for users to create, join, and search for groups, and become virtual collaborators. One such group, The Climate Change Champions, evolved through these new interactive features on the website. When a young Roots & Shoots member discovered an inspiring project in our database, she reached out to that project’s creator. Even though the two activists live in distant parts of the country, they discovered they had many similar interests, including their main passion: addressing climate change. Together, they created a public Roots & Shoots group to connect with others who were just as passionate about climate change as they are. Today, this entirely virtual Roots & Shoots group has grown to over 76 members from across the U.S. who are participating in monthly challenges and Roots & Shoots projects.  

Of course, this doesn’t mean an end to localized groups taking action! Meyrav Revivo of the UC Davis Sustainable Environmental Design Roots & Shoots group has been a member of Roots & Shoots for seven years and in 2020 used the new website to report on and grow their community project. The REACH Youth Coalition of Vacaville, California, pushed their city council to prioritize the revitalization of a nature trail that students use to get to and from school. When the students needed help preparing the site renderings, Meyrav’s Roots & Shoots group decided to step in. In 2020, they began by conducting interviews with community members who are invested in the trail to understand their needs. 

They discovered that the main needs include lighting, trash cans, vegetation, and more community buy-in to keep the trail a priority for city council. Through these conversations, they learned there is a lot of interest in an old community garden space at the trailhead, and Meyrav plans to use this as the next step in gaining community buy-in. This Roots & Shoots group is currently working on site renderings and looks forward to where the trail leads next.

Roots & Shoots groups have proved to be a useful tool for creating change during the pandemic, whether you create them with others near or far. Even during a time when we feel more cut off from our friends and family than usual, it’s important to remember—as these young changemakers did and continue to do—that we are not alone and every individual makes a difference every single day. 

Want to join the Roots & Shoots movement? Become a member (it’s always FREE) today!

What does it mean to be a Roots & Shoots member? As a member, you’ll join our R&S family for life! You’ll get:

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  • Status as an OFFICIAL Roots & Shoots member and your very own profile page. This allows you to create and share your project pages. (You can also create online groups and share your R&S activity!)
  • Access to a global community of changemakers in all 50 states and over 50 countries and ability to connect with other groups, members, experts, the R&S team, and maybe even Dr. Jane herself!
  • Ability to get featured across our digital channels (for millions to see!)
  • Amazing opportunities like access to funding for your world-changing projects and award recognition
  • First access to new content, 1-Click Actions, insider info on partnerships, and Challenges throughout the year
  • Exclusive updates including project ideas, member spotlights, plus even more ways to help you take action in your community and beyond…

About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Associate Director of Communications & Partnerships at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Jane Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission to create a better world for all by protecting the interconnections between people, other animals, and the environment. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is currently a Master's of Science Candidate for Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Environmental Justice. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, now a D.C. resident, she has a varied background including nearly 10 years of expert communications and digital marketing in the social and environmental non-profit sector. Her intersectional approach to this work has been shaped by a holistic world-view, having traveled to Madagascar and Ecuador for conservation research projects, leading communications for youth social justice filmmaking programs, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces. With skills ranging from conservation fieldwork, policy and advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, art, digital media, and design, Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to change hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.