Message from Dr. Jane: Marking the 21st Anniversary of Roots & Shoots

Here we are at the beginning of 2012 about to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, the Jane Goodall Institute’s global environmental and humanitarian youth program. Over the last two decades, Roots & Shoots has grown from just 12 high school students from nine different schools in Tanzania to a worldwide movement of young people who are dedicated to realizing a vision for a better world. I couldn’t be more proud of what they have accomplished. Every day, through their projects, they are improving the environment and raising the quality of life for people and animals.

Roots & Shoots started in 1991 because, as I had been traveling around the globe talking about environmental and social problems, I was continually meeting young people who seemed to have lost hope—they were depressed, angry or—mostly—apathetic. They told me they felt that their future had been stolen from them and that there was nothing they could do about it. I knew only too well how we had harmed the planet since I was a child. I felt shame and desperation, but I knew it was not true that there was nothing we could do to change things.

Twenty-one years from that first gathering on my veranda, I am still in touch with most of the 12 founding members of Roots & Shoots and many from the clubs that began to spring up in Dar es Salaam, the capitol city of Tanzania, where I used to live. Today, they have all become successful in their chosen careers—medicine, business, media and so on. Four of them are even working for the Jane Goodall Institute helping us to grow Roots & Shoots even more widely in Tanzania.

Roots & Shoots has grown into a movement. We now have an amazing network of members, alumni and mentors in some 130 countries. Every day there are new Roots & Shoots members joining the movement, changing their communities, and becoming great leaders.

These young people have shown that they can have a positive impact and just how passionate they are about creating a better world. Never before has our planet needed our help as much as now. And as I travel around, these exhausting 300 days a year, it is meeting these young people all over the world and hearing all about their amazing projects that gives me the most hope for the future.

We are moving toward a critical mass of youth who understand that while we need money to live, we must not live for money. They also understand that each and every one of us makes a difference every day.  Because of this awareness, the youth of Roots & Shoots will realize their vision of a better future for themselves and for the generations that follow.

As we celebrate the 21st anniversary of Roots & Shoots, I congratulate all of the people who have been involved over the years—and thank them from the bottom of my heart.


Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE
UN Messenger of Peace


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