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CEL home > News and Archive > April 2005


     Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots Promotes Caring for Creation

By Kathleen LaCamera

World-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall says people of faith are among those who have a definite role to play in caring for creation.

Goodall, a self described "scientist turned activist", recently visited the northwest of England where she encouraged children and adults to make a positive difference in the world through her global Roots & Shoots project.

She says a lifetime of working with animals and watching their habitats disintegrate in the face of poverty, development, war and bad politics has made her a campaigner for personal responsibility.

"You can't live through a day without making an impact," says Dr. Goodall. "It's up to you what kind of difference you make."

Goodall began Roots & Shoots with a handful of Tanzanian teenagers in 1991.

Today there are more than 6000 groups currently are active in 87 countries. R&S works with religious groups, schools, businesses, prisons and other community organisations helping them to take on grassroots projects that help care for people, animals and the environment.

Roots & Shoots only recently has been introduced in the UK where schools have been the primary participants. Goodall hopes many others groups, including British churches, will get involved in larger numbers.

When asked if she feels "called" to the work she does Goodall confesses, "it's certainly a mission. Looking back over my life, everything has fallen into place."

But don't let that statement fool you. This woman has worked tirelessly in the face of serious obstacles for decades. In 1965 she became one of only a handful of people to earn a Ph.D from Cambridge without having a prior university degree.

When she was in her early twenties Goodall made her childhood dream of going to Africa to study and write about animals a reality. She earned enough waiting tables in Bournemouth to visit a school friend living in Kenya.

Once in Africa she eventually found a job in Tanganyika studying chimpanzees under the tutelage of famed archaeologist Dr. Louis Leakey. When government officials balked at the idea of her going into the jungle alone, Goodall recruited her mother, Vanne Goodall, as a companion, the one person that taught her "never to give up no matter what".

Less than six months into the study, Goodall became the first person to observe chimps making and using tools. Prior to her discovery, experts believed only humans possessed this ability. Almost forty year later the Gombe Stream Research Centre in Tanzania which Goodall established is still doing research and caring for primates.

In 2002 Kofi Annan personally invited Goodall to become a United Nations Messenger for Peace. Amongst many honours she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2003. In her autobiography, Reason to Hope: A Spiritual Journey, Goodall writes that she believes in a "guiding power in the universe." "In other word," she reflects, "I believe in God."

"Religion was never rammed down our throats" she recalls. "We were taught the importance of human values such as courage, honesty, compassion and tolerance.

"My love of living things was encouraged, so that from the very beginning I was able to develop that sense of wonder, of awe, that can lead to spiritual awareness."

For more information about starting a Roots & Shoots group, contact Claire Quarendon, Email: , ph: 02380 335660 or visit:


Pictures by children of Gorsey Bank Primary Year 4 class inspired by Jane's visit.

by Sarah H aged 8 and "I will try and help by going outside more" by Lauren D aged 9

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