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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Jane Goodall urges hope in talk

In her visit to campus Monday, Jane Goodall described her inspiration for the path she’s chosen as Tarzan, and said it was her dream to live among apes and people in Africa.[/media-credit]

Jane Goodall shared her reasons for hope in a world of environmental crisis and reflected on her journey from being a scientist to an environmental protection advocate with more than 2,000 people at an Earth Day conference Monday.

Goodall dreamed of living among apes in African jungles as a little girl fascinated by “Tarzan of the Apes.” She later lived out her childhood dream and became known for her groundbreaking chimpanzee research in Tanzania that challenged the long-standing beliefs of contemporary scientists.

Despite being Goodall’s inspiration, Tarzan was nonetheless a great disappointment, Goodall said.


“What did he do?” Goodall said. “He married the wrong Jane!”

Although she had the life she dreamed of, living in the wild studying the most amazing animal, Goodall did not stop there.

After attending a session on conservation at a conference for chimpanzee experts across Africa in 1986, Goodall realized the serious problems that caused plummeting chimpanzee population could not be addressed unless they help the people there first.

“I didn’t make a conscious decision to leave, I walked into the session as a scientist with a wonderful life and came out as an advocate,” Goodall said. “It became obvious at that point we can’t try to save the chimpanzees if we don’t do something to help the people.”

Goodall later established the Jane Goodall Institute and became a global leader in conservation programs in Africa.

The interrelated problems of greenhouse gas emissions, factory farms and diseases that pass from animals to humans paint a grim picture and many young people seem to have lost hope in the future and fallen into apathy, Goodall said.

“When I see a small child, I feel the shame, desperation and anger for what we’ve done to this beautiful planet since I was a child, but it’s not helpful to say there isn’t any hope,” she said.

To give hope to the young people, Goodall established the global youth educational program “Root and Shoot,” named for the tremendous power in a single seed.

The program, which began with Goodall’s meeting with 12 Tanzanian teenagers, has spread to more than 130 countries.

“That is what gives me hope,” Goodall said. “Young people with shiny eyes to tell Dr. Jane what they’ve done to make the world better. They choose projects they are passionate about.”

Goodall travels 300 days a year to send one message to the world: There are reasons for hope.

She shared her reasons for hope: the power of individuals, nature’s resilience and most of all, the indomitable human spirit.

“Yes, the world is filled with problems, but I haven’t found a problem anywhere where there isn’t a group of passionate people to address it and that’s the greatest reason for hope,” she said. “I’m so happy that we get reminded every year on the special Earth Day,” Goodall said. “I pray we will take Earth Day into our hearts and practice every day of our life.”

Steve Pomplun, assistant director for Community and Alumni Relations at Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, said many high school and middle school classes attended the event.

According to Pomplun, environmental education is most beneficial when university resources are brought together. 

Emily Gavic, a University of Wisconsin sophomore, said listening to Goodall speak on environmental protection was inspiring.

“It is much better to hear from Jane Goodall than from my environmental studies professors,” Gavic said. “I have looked up to her my whole life.” 

The late U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., founded Earth Day. The Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies is named after him in honor of his environmental protection initiatives.

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