British primatologist Jane Goodall spoke to students at TCU and Fort Worth Country Day about the thread of peace, hope and harmony that humanity has with itself and nature in a private lecture on Monday.
TCU worked with Fort Worth Country Day School to co-sponsor Goodall’s visit to Fort Worth. The lecture was part of a 10-week touring exhibit through the United States, hosted by the Jane Goodall Institute.
The lecture heavily focused on her personal history and environmental activism through the Roots & Shoots program and also spread a message of hope.
She urged the audience to realize the hope that is shown through the human brain, the human spirit, youth and the resilience of nature.
She admitted that even she has been discouraged at times. But she said she looked to these factors and history to help her regain hope.
“There’s examples throughout history of terrible events which seem absolutely overwhelming at the time, but we have survived them and come out to go on fighting,” Goodall said.
Senior environmental science and political science double major Macy Zander said she thought Goodall’s talk was refreshing.
“More so than anyone else, she’s seen the ups and downs of conservation,” Zander said. “It was just really, really intriguing to me to hear, despite all the stuff that’s going on, how much hope she still has for humanity and how we can take care of the world.”
The speaking tour specifically targeted Roots & Shoots programs across the nation.
According to the Jane Goodall Institute website, the Roots & Shoots mission is to help students actively learn about the environment to make youth more thoughtful and compassionate for all creatures.
Zander, who is also vice president of the TCU Environmental Club, said starting a Roots & Shoots branch on campus would be phenomenal.
“That is something the Environmental Club might look into doing because it will be a really good way to connect them with other universities and other schools and other countries,” Zander said.
The program began in 1991 as a result of the efforts of 12 students. Now there are 126 countries involved with 16,000 active groups and an average of 20 members in each group, Goodall said.
“We are growing the family of man worldwide,” Goodall said.
Goodall said joining this family is a perfect way for college students from TCU and other universities to get involved in protecting the environment.
“You start a group by getting people together and talking about problems,” Goodall said. “Discuss what to do, and then roll up [your] sleeves and go out and do it. If it doesn”t work, don”t give up. Because you may be doing it the wrong way.”
After spending 50 years in the field, Goodall said she has not given up on her curiosity about the environment or her interest to help the environment. Because of her insatiable thirst for knowledge and because of her mother’s support, Goodall said, she was able to successfully pursue her dreams.
She said she decided to move to Africa and live with primates at the age of 11 when she read “Tarzan of the Apes.” She even had a childhood crush on the fictional character until he married “that other stupid, wimpy Jane,” she said.
Goodall said she then worked waiting tables to buy her boat fare for her initial adventure from the United Kingdom to Africa.
“That first adventure 8212; that adventure when I was 23 8212; nothing like that has ever happened again,” Goodall said.
Goodall has since received numerous awards, including Disney’s Animal Kingdom Eco Hero Award, Discovery Channel Europe Award for A Lifetime of Discovery and the Gandhi/King Award for Non-Violence. She also has been honored as a “Messenger of Peace” by the United Nations and Dame of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.