Dr. Jane Goodall, world famous primatologist, honored the Silicon Valley YWCA as the keynote speaker for the organization’s 23rd annual luncheon and fundraiser. In addition to the obvious qualification of being an amazing female role model in the sciences, Goodall also brought a unique and compelling message about the importance of diligent and intelligent international development.
“Conservation and human welfare are inextricably linked,” she said. She elaborated with stories about the deforestation, which inched year by year inward around Gombe National Park in Kenya where she has conducted her famous research. Goodall and her team realized that economic hardship of the surrounding villages was sustaining the deforestation. She then founded an organization called Roots and Shoots, which aims to educate, build local capacity, and create youth leaders who understand the importance of conservation.
In terms of education, Goodall specifically mentioned the critical importance of family planning, family size, and local communities’ ability to adhere to conversation ideals. She mentioned how women’s empowerment and health have tangible effects in the fight to preserve land and build local prosperity responsibly. Goodall connected the work of the YWCA here in California to the needs of women around the world who do not currently have such support systems. Roots and Shoots, and all the volunteers who run fundraisers and projects around the world, believe that more money and attention to be paid to the interconnecting issues of economic development, human welfare, and environmental protection.
Goodall admitted that she, like so many of us, has heard many intelligent scientists say that even if we attempt to shift the direction of our ship so to speak, to avoid climate catastrophe, we’re already doomed. Our ship is already headed for the rocks. “But I cannot choose to believe that,” she said, looking out into the audience and pausing for a moment. “I cannot because we need to hope we can change. And I hope above all that young people have hope. We need the young people to have hope.” She championed the efforts of the earliest American chapters of Roots and Shoots, which began in inner city schools of the Bronx and focused on eliminating Styrofoam from cafeterias.
Goodall concluded by charging the audience to do their part, contact Congress members, donate, volunteer, make small changes, and get involved. With stern eyes and a passionate tone of voice, she ended, “We must leave this planet a better place for our children, and for our grandchildren.”
– Shelly Grimaldi