We Are a Part of Nature: Roots & Shoots Partners with Children & Nature Network


The Jane Goodall Institute is proud to announce a new partnership between our Roots & Shoots youth program and the Children & Nature Network! These two programs – committed to the well-being of children and the natural world – are collaborating on a national partnership that will engage and grow a strong network of young nature connection leaders across the U.S. The partnership will kickoff in the Fall of 2022 across shared hub cities including Atlanta, Georgia, Los Angeles, California, and beyond. To start the important conversation about getting young people reconnected to the natural world, Dr. Goodall (virtually from England), will join author and Children & Nature Network co-founder Richard Louv at the Inside-Out International Conference on Thursday, May 12. These two iconic voices, discuss how a connection to nature is essential for the health and well-being of children, other animals and the planet – both today and for generations to come.


When Dr. Goodall was just four years old, she was curious. She was born curious, but her curiosity was a flame – one fanned by hours and hours spent outside in her backyard and on the cliffs of Bournemouth, England. As a curious four year old, who also got to spend some time on family farms, she wondered: “Where do eggs come from?” So, she sat in a hen house waiting, waiting, and waiting. All day had gone by and finally – AN EGG! Though her mother was worried she was missing and had called the police, when young Jane Goodall emerged she had a sparkle in her eye – the flame grew.

As Jane has often shared,

“So, if you think about that, isn’t that the making of a little scientist, the curiosity, asking questions, not getting the right answer, deciding to find out for yourself, making a mistake, not giving up and learning patience. And a different mother might have crushed that early scientific curiosity, so, that moment with the hen was really, really pivotal in my life I think.”

Recent studies have shown that people in the U.S. are spending less and less time in outdoor spaces. The Nature of Americans National Report, which surveyed 12,000 adults and children in the United States, revealed that, “Parents of children 8 to 12 years old said that their children spend three times as many hours with computers and televisions each week as they do playing outside.” At the same time, our world is facing existential environmental and social crises. While time in the outdoors – repeatedly proven to be essential to positive mental wellbeing – diminishes, so too does our connection to the natural world, and one another. As eco-anxiety plagues young people who are inheriting the destructive systems that have caused so much harm to our shared planet, humans, and wildlife alike, it is time that we remembered we are a part of the natural world.


Since the creation of Roots & Shoots in 1991, JGI’s Roots & Shoots program has been encouraging young changemakers all over the world to make a positive impact starting in their own communities. Through this remarkable partnership Children & Nature Network, Roots & Shoots, and the Jane Goodall Institute will be able to deepen connections with young people and empower them to make a difference for nature and in their communities. The partnership will bring Roots & Shoots’ highly-regarded service-learning programs for young people together with the Children & Nature Network’s policy, systems-change and movement building work across the U.S.

Together, the programs will have additional capacity to scale the impact of their work, advocacy and awareness building efforts designed to increase equitable opportunities for children and young people to learn, play and grow with regular connections to the natural world.

About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Director of Storytelling & Marketing for 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 pursuing a Master's of Science in 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 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 organizations, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces including Greens REALIGN. 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 transform hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.