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Science & Tech

Roots & Shoots

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 8:41 min

An introduction to the origins of the Roots & Shoots program.

Dr. Jane Goodall
Teaches Conservation
Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.
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It's very clear that conservation today-- conserving species, conserving environments, conserving ecosystems-- is something that's tremendously important for the future. And also it's become such a major problem that it takes an awful lot of funding to keep these projects going. So we need to conserve the environment if we want to protect the chimpanzees. If we want to conserve the environment, we have to work with the local people. Because unless they're our partners in conservation, we may as well give up. Working with the local people costs money. Working with scientists to learn more about-- to better protect the natural world takes funding. And it's a lot of hard work, too, and many, many people are involved. Isn't it a waste of time, energy, money, and all the rest of it if we are not at the same time educating new generations to look after the planet better than we have, to be better stewards? We've let the planet down. There's no question about that. And we owe it to future generations to work with them to try and heal some of the harm we've inflicted. And one of the good signs is that young people are beginning to understand. Young people are becoming more aware. It was in 1991, we were celebrating 30 years of research at Gombe, which, at that time, seemed very long. Of course, now it's more towards 60 than 30. But then, 30 years was a big landmark. And I went around secondary schools and primary schools-- we had big gatherings, and I talked to the young people about the environmental problems, about the forests, and some of them began to think about this. And soon after I'd been round all these schools and had these meetings, a group of 12 high school students asked if they could come and meet me at my house in Dar es Salaam. They came from nine different high schools, and they sat around on my veranda. We have a photo of that meeting. Amazing it's been saved. And they were concerned about so many different problems. One of them-- why isn't the government doing more about the poaching of animals-- lions, giraffe, elephants-- in our national parks? See, they're taking ownership. They're our national parks. But there were some of them who were concerned about street children who are homeless, who are sniffing glue. Some of them were worried about the homeless people in the streets who had nowhere to go and no money. Some of them were concerned about the pollution of the ocean, the destruction of the coral reefs. They were just a very thoughtful group of young people. And that led to a meeting of them and their friends from these different secondary schools. And that's where this program for young people was born. They had hoped I could solve their problems. And I said to them, well, you know, I love Tanzania, but I'm not a Tanzanian. And what about you? What do you think you could do for your country ...

Take action

There is still a window of time. Nature can win if we give her a chance. In her first ever online class, Dr. Jane Goodall teaches how you can conserve the environment. She also shares her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. You'll learn how to act locally and protect the planet.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

The information was priceless from one the the greats. I am glad i got to hear from Jane herself.

So inspiring. But I would love more photos, videos, etc. of the people and places to which she refers. Her voice is lovely, but I need more visuals.

I loved this class. Jane Goodall is an amazing story teller. She has a great caring demeanor with the ability to bring people together.

Her pace and delivery is calming and engaging. She completely captures my attention and imagination. I will return to this again and again.


Lisa Z.

I had never heard of roots & shoots (I was a bit surprised that I hadn't), but I contacted the local branch and hope I can make a small contribution with my time and knowledge. Thank you Jane, it's truly inspirational. And I agree with my fellow students, this should be made available to everyone, there's so many people I wish I could share the videos with. But for now, my account of the story will have to do.

Bernardo F.

I was unaware of this organization, it seems as a wonderful idea, both for helping the environment at the same time young people takes action in regards of a better future. Gonna give it a look, maybe I can convince some students to join if it's available in Mexico.

Antonia T.

All that is very nice for the people, but in the long run does not make a big change for the planet or the animals, I'm sorry to say. It makes us feel good, it may help communities, but the planet and the slaughtered animals don't care much about us feeling good or the communities. We need stronger laws that forbid slaughtering animals for meat, forbid producing garbage, and forbid polluting. We need stronger and tougher voices I'm afraid.

Sundar B.

Roots and Shoots is a great organization. There need to be people like Jane to heal the planet. Her message is so important, everyone needs to hear her talk.

A fellow student

Dear Masterclass, please make this masterclass free on your website. Her message is so so important...!

Diana H.

This story about prisoners who made art of animals to sell and to set up Roots and Shoots in their school to educate youth so they would make good choices despite having little options. Janes work has sparked so much education and conservation.

A fellow student

Can we bring Roots and Shoots to senior day care centres? Give them a second chance to be young again! 😄

Maria Lisa P.

I agree, we have let the earth and animals down. I think people feel like they can't make a difference themselves. But all of us, one by one, can make a difference. We can't just wait for someone else to do something. We can make an impact in even the smallest of ways but picking up trash anywhere we see it, stop buying unsustainable products and packaging, look around and see that nature is protecting us and helping us life, it produces the oxygen we need to breathe, it's beautiful, we need it more than it needs us.

Katerina V.

How amazing that one person's passion and love for something can spark so much activity and grow in a way that spans across different areas - environmental, social, political... But of course, they are all interconnected! Awareness leads to knowledge, knowledge breeds more learning and leads to action. Education on all levels is so very important - spreading the message, sowing the seed.

Mia S.

"They had hoped I could solve their problems. 'I love Tanzania, but I'm not a Tanzanian. What about you? What do you thin you could do for your country to save animals, to deal with some of these situations that concern you?' From that discussion came the main message of the Roots & Shoots program, which is that every single one of us matters. Every single one of us has a role to play in society, in the world; every single one of us, whether we want to or not, makes a difference of some sort every single day. Because of the way my life had been formed to understand the inter-relatedness of everything, starting out in the forest and branching out into society, we decided that every group would choose - we wouldn't choose for them - a project to help people, a project to help other animals including domestic animals, and a project to help the environment that we all share. That program that began with 12 high school students in 1991 is now in 98 countries-it's growing all the time. We have some preschool members, and they're mostly at home; it's amazing how very tiny children can let you know if they care about animals or plants. We're also working with some older people, some in retirement homes - and also in prisons. Roots & Shoots is making a huge difference in China. 'We do care about animals now, because we saw your geographic documentaries when we were in primary school.' It was taken up in the schools, it's about 2000 groups across China - about the same numbers in the U.S. and it's growing very fast in many other countries. I think the reason it's so successful is because it's youth-driven. We're not dictating to the young people what to do. We can advise them, give them ideas; some communities desperately need the ideas, because they're never done anything like this before. Basically what we're trying to do is empower young people. Roots & Shoots is about thinking up projects, working out what we could do about the things that bother us, and then - having worked out a project - rolling up the sleeves and getting out there and taking action. It's my main hope for the future."