Celebrating 30 Years of Incredible Roots & Shoots Changemakers

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February 19th 2021 marked the 30th Anniversary of the Jane Goodall Institute’s youth program, Roots & Shoots! All year long, we’ve been celebrating the growth of this incredible program from just 12 students in Tanzania, to a global movement spanning more than over 60 countries! Though much has changed, we’ve stayed true to our roots…The group of Tanzanian students who came to Jane’s front porch felt hopeless – with Jane’s support and their creativity, Roots & Shoots allows young people to feel hopeful by creating a positive impact in their communities – for people, other animals, and the environment we share. This powerful reason for hope led by young people is still true for our Roots & Shoots members today! The best part? This hope is contagious – and it continues to grow…

With so many changemakers—and more each day—the variety of creative and impactful projects has grown too! We decided to highlight some of these projects created as part of our 30th Anniversary Campaigns in a virtual Roots & Shoots 30th Anniversary Awards ceremony that took place in November, 2021. It featured guest celebrities, influencers, activists including Arnold Schwarzenegger, IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak, co-founder of Plus1Vote Saad Amer, and our own Dr. Jane! Most importantly, it showcased the work of some OUTSTANDING Roots & Shoots members and groups! With 67 project nominations from 5 regions, we’re so inspired by and proud of our Awardees. 

Watch & Share the 30th Anniversary Awards Virtual Event!

 

GROWING TOGETHER RECENT CATEGORY: KHOWHEMUN ELEMENTARY FIRST NATIONS PLANT GARDEN 

This category was for projects submitted as part of our 🔗 Growing Together campaign, encouraging young people everywhere to grow native plants and forests, learn more about them, and get out into nature! Khowhemun Elementary in Canada has a high First Nations population, so they decided to grow a garden full of plants used traditionally by Cowichan First Nations for dyeing, eating, and healing. Students learned about local plants through the hands-on experience of growing the garden, and older students got to see how these plants affected the soil, other plants, and local pollinators! 

GROWING TOGETHER LONG-TERM CATEGORY: SEEDS OF HOPE 

For this project, students in many schools across the Gauteng Province of South Africa came together to grow and donate seedlings to food gardens in their communities! They collected old yogurt containers and egg cartons to use as planting pots, then saved seeds from the fruits and vegetables they ate at home—materials that would have been wasted otherwise. Talk about upcycling! 

SPECIAL MENTION: THE TYFU PROJECT 

As mentioned, it was a very difficult process choosing awardees, and we are so excited to share these special mentions! For Growing Together Long-Term entries, we’d like to shout out the Tyfu Project, based in the UK. For the past two years, they have been working to plant mixed native trees and heritage fruit trees across the UK as a way to increase local biodiversity! 

CONNECT THE CHANGE RECENT CATEGORY: S.U.A. “SAVE US ALL” – PROTECTING THE PLANET WITH HOPE 

This award went to a project that was submitted for our #ConnectTheChange campaign in the spring, which focused on fighting plastic pollution for our planet, growing understanding for ourselves and other people, and protecting keystone species and other animals. Save Us All is a project started by 14-year-old Olivia Mandle, who is a young animal activist and climate warrior based in Spain. Two years ago, she created the “Jelly Cleaner”—a tool made from recycled materials that helps remove microplastics from the water—and she has been giving workshops in schools throughout SpaIn ever since! Her current project on Change.org #noesPaisparaDelfines has the objective of forcing the Spanish government to prohibit Dolphin Parks and end cetaceans in captivity. She already has 101,000 signatures and presented a motion in the Spanish Senate. 

SPECIAL MENTION: COLLEGE STUDENTS VOLUNTEER TEACHING  

Our special mention for the Connect the Change Recent category is College Students Volunteer Teaching, based in China. When these students realized how few educational resources there were for children living in remote areas of China, they banded together to raise funding and plan out courses, especially in environmental education. Now, more than 150 university Roots & Shoots groups participate, teaching these curricula to elementary school students across the country! 

CONNECT THE CHANGE LONG-TERM CATEGORY: FINLESS PORPOISES PROTECTION PROJECT  

This project began in 2017 when Roots & Shoots group Qingdao Sunshine Partners started investigating populations of finless porpoises around the Yellow and Bohai Seas of China. The project grew, and by July of this year, more than 200 students had joined the effort, interviewing fishermen and collecting stranded porpoises. Through beach cleanings and other public events, they are raising public awareness about this critically endangered species! 

SPECIAL MENTION: SOULMATES 

For the Connect the Change Long-Term category, we want to highlight a special mention: Soulmates, based in Spain. This project draws on bonds between humans and other animals, connecting teenagers living in children’s homes to animals that have been abandoned. By empathizing with one another, these pairs are able to motivate each other to stay strong through the adoption process. 

WORLD CHIMPANZEE RECENT CATEGORY: CHIMPANZEE TROPHY MOVEMENT (TANZANIA) 

World Chimpanzee Day takes place on July 14th each year to mark Jane’s first arrival in Gombe Stream National Park to begin her landmark studies. The projects submitted as part of this campaign celebrate the amazing species we are proud to call our closest living relative! This group from celebrated World Chimpanzee Day by spreading awareness about the plight of chimpanzees through a country wide movement sharing a chimpanzee trophy, with celebrations all year long. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, they have used television, radio, and carefully-planned in-person visits to connect with communities in 6 regions across Tanzania. 

WORLD CHIMPANZEE LONG-TERM CATEGORY: RESTORING CHIMPANZEE HABITAT 

Chimpanzees are still found in Nynza-Lac Makamba province of Burundi, but their habitat is quickly disappearing. This group knew they had to do something about it, so they started holding awareness meetings to tell their community about the harm that was being done to the forest. With the support of community members, they have begun restoring chimpanzee habitat in the Rukambasi Natural Reserve with new tree plantings! 

VOICES FROM OUR EARTH RECENT CATEGORY: VOICES OF HOPE 

Projects submitted to the Voices from our Earth campaign recognize the traditional knowledge and practices of native peoples around the world, and use these to inspire more sustainable, respectful living. Spanning three countries—Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Colombia—this group started their project to connect with people and hear about the environmental issues they experience in their daily lives. In addition, they visited schools to promote International Day of Peace, and took trips to Indigenous Sacred Sites to take inspiration from their ancestors’ stories and ways of life. 

VOICES FROM OUR EARTH LONG-TERM CATEGORY: THE LIVING LANDSCAPES 

Living Landscapes is a project that was organized by JGI Australia, which includes contributions from 11 First Nation groups. The result was a book that serves as an educational resource for young people across Australia and the world, with conservation stories told from Indigenous perspectives. Through this book, readers can learn about some of the incredible work First Nations are doing to coexist with the natural world to create a better future for all. 

LONGEVITY CATEGORY: DR. GOORI FAMILY GROUP (SOUTH KOREA) 

This award goes to a project that has continued making a positive impact in the world for many years, showing extraordinary dedication to the cause they believe in! Dr. Goori family group from South Korea has spent the last 7 years tracking the endangered Suweon treefrog (also known as the spotless tree toad) endemic to the Korean peninsula. Thanks to their efforts, this frog’s habitat range was discovered to be larger than previously thought, prompting public support against highway construction in this area. 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDEES 

Last—but certainly not least—we have our Lifetime Achievement Awardees. These individuals were selected by Dr. Jane Goodall in recognition of their commitment to Roots & Shoots for a period of more than 20 or 25 years. They have each played an integral part in shaping Roots & Shoots over the years, whether by starting and participating in projects, facilitating teacher workshops, introducing students to environmental conservation, or any number of other valuable contributions. These world-changing awardees include: 

  • Mary Lewis 
  • Tim O’Halloran 
  • Kelly Kok 
  • Japhet Jonas Mwanang’ombe 
  • Erasto Njavike 
  • Renee Gunther 
  • Rick Asselta 
  • Dr. Katrina Macht 

We are more grateful than words can say for all the time and energy these awardees have put towards nurturing this program that has created generations of compassionate changemakers the world over.  

As we look to the next 30 years of Roots & Shoots, we are so excited to keep turning Jane’s vision for a better world into a reality!  

Feel Inspired to Take Action? Join TODAY!

Are you blown away by these creative, talented, and hopeful young people? YOU could be just like them! Join our Roots & Shoots family: Become a member to start your own impactful project today. 

About Author

Kira is a Communications & Policy Assistant at the Jane Goodall Institute, where she supports the team in advancing public engagement with JGI's holistic programs. Kira graduated from Smith College in 2021, majoring in anthropology and minoring in art history, and during her time there she developed a deep interest in the field of anthrozoology. Her interests within this field are broad, and have led her to study elephant iconography in the U.S. and wildlife management in Tanzania. JGI's values and mission as well as the mindset of anthrozoology guide her work, exploring the interactions between humans and other animals in order to promote a healthier coexistence on this shared planet.