At age 88, Dr. Jane Goodall has lived a full life. Best known for her groundbreaking research of wild chimpanzees that spanned six decades, Dr. Goodall’s work has changed our understanding of our own humanity.
On September 19, 2022, Dr. Goodall was honored with the Murie Spirit of Conservation Award, highlighting excellence in conservation. The award ceremony, hosted by Teton Science Schools, was held at the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts. Notably, 105 of 500 seats were reserved for students.
This might be surprising when you think about why a child or teenager would want to attend a 2-hour award ceremony.
Or, it might not be surprising at all when considering the weight of Dr. Goodall’s accomplishments, her inspiring story especially for young women and girls, and her absolute faith, hope, and reverence for young people in our world.
Children are the future
It’s safe to assume the namesakes of the award, Olaus and Mardy Murie, would agree with Dr. Goodall – the idea that if we want to affect positive change in the future, we should focus on getting kids involved and interested in nature.
“Otherwise,” as Teton Science School’s CEO Shawn Kelly shared, “this whole thing unravels.” Meaning, without young people interested and engaged in conservation and the environment, the future of planet earth is in question.
In addition to her lifetime of research, the Jane Goodall Institute continues to advance community-led conservation, animal welfare, science, and youth empowerment through its Roots & Shoots program. Established in 1991, Roots & Shoots gives young people a plethora of tools to positively impact their communities in ways that they care about.
Currently operating in 65 countries, children from kindergarten to university pick a problem they are passionate about. Then, they take action. There are simple “one-click” actions and larger challenges, from recycling programs to building a bee hotel.
Think globally, act locally
Dr. Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program beautifully aligns with place-based education, a cornerstone of the Teton Science Schools.
As she said at the award ceremony, “You can’t solve the problems of the world, but what can you do in your communities?”
While there’s no simple answer to solving larger issues like homelessness, pollution, and deforestation, working locally is the key to start making progress. That is, small steps add up to big journeys.
No one knows what the future will bring
As for Dr. Goodall’s next adventure that she’s looking forward to, well, she shared it’s dying – much to the chagrin of the audience. She believes one of two things can happen when you die:
“There’s either nothing, or there’s something. So if that’s true, can you think of a greater adventure than finding out what that is?”
Dr. Goodall’s legacy as a conservationist and pioneer in scientific research will last much longer than her own lifetime. And as for the 105 students in the audience who got to see her in person, aren’t we all fortunate that they’ll carry her legacy forward.
For more information about the Murie Spirit of Conservation Award including the list of past recipients, please visit our website or contact Caitlin Kiley at firstname.lastname@example.org.