On May 1, the Sprouts of Hope attended a very special event, which took place at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, in Providence, Rhode Island. Along with 12 other Roots & Shoots groups from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine, we had an amazing opportunity to spend the day with Dr. Jane Goodall. Yes, it was extremely exciting. Although we had already met her a few times in the past, we were still ecstatic. After all, it was Jane Goodall!
We began our Saturday very early, driving from Cambridge, MA to the zoo at 8:00 AM! When we arrived at the zoo, we headed for the Roots & Shoots tent, where each of the groups had its own table to show others the project they are working on. Some groups were learning more about endangered whales, specifically the Right Whale; others have been doing fundraisers to raise money for different causes related to helping animals or people or the environment, which are the three goals of Roots & Shoots. We came up with nicknames for a few of the groups; The Whale Group 1, The Whale Group 2 and GGOD, which stood for “Go Green Or Die.”
The project we exhibited was not about whales, homeless shelters, or parrots in Guyana. Instead, it was about a book we wrote called “Energy Lite” that describes why and how families – parents and kids – can use Kill A Watt meters in their homes to learn about ways to conserve energy use and pay less for energy bills. We came up with some fun experiments that parents and kids can do together. To demonstrate some of them, at our table we had hairdryer plugged into a Kill A Watt meter as well as a toaster oven.
In the toaster oven, we baked chocolate chip cookies, which lured people to our table with the delicious smell of baking cookies. And when they got there we’d show them how much energy these appliances use! They were always amazed, and a lot of them told us they would let their hair dry without using a hairdryer – now that they knew how much energy it uses.
Many people were very amazed at what we had done in writing this book, and they congratulated us on our accomplishments. We also explained about our book – along with a Kill A Watt – will be available soon in all of the Cambridge Public Libraries so that people can take the book and the meter home, just like they’d check out a book or a CD.
When people told us that enjoyed our project, we gave them one of the Sprouts of
Hope business cards that I designed. It has our blog’s Web address on it, so we are hoping more people will come to read what we write about what the Sprouts of Hope do. Some people even wanted to know if our books were on sale. Unfortunately, they’re not, at this time, but we hope to sell them in the future!
Each Roots & Shoots group got a chance to go on the stage and present their projects to Dr. Jane, as she tells us to call her. She sat in the front row and really enjoyed learning about what we are doing to change the world. Eliza spoke about our “Energy Lite” book project, as the rest of the Sprouts went up on stage to help show big photographs of pages from our book.
We are so grateful to Dr. Jane for writing her words of encouragement and support about our project, and now her words are on our book’s back cover. It was amazing for us read what she said about our effort: “The Sprouts of Hope have come up with such a simple idea that can make such a very big difference.”
After our presentation, we handed a copy of “Energy Lite” to Dr. Jane that each of us had signed – as its authors.
During the rest of the day we explained our project again and again to people. First to Roots & Shoots people, then to the public, who came by our table on the way to getting Dr. Jane to sign one of her books that they’d purchased.
Dr. Jane signed a copy of her new book, "Hope for Animals and Their World," for each of
us, and here is the message she wrote for us:
Dr. Jane must have been much more exhausted than we were! She continued to sign books until 7:00 that night—and she had started at about 2:00 in the afternoon! Wow!
We all had a very fun time at the zoo. It was great fun to meet Dr. Jane (again!), to look at all the adorable animals, and to spread our knowledge of Kill A Watt meters to others! This day was truly one of the best Roots & Shoots events we have attended. With all the excitement, teaching and demonstrating, how could we not love it?
A Leadership Summit with Dr. Jane
On Sunday, May 2, an invited group of New England Roots & Shoots members gathered at the Lenox Hotel in Boston – an environmentally friendly hotel – for a Leadership Summit with Dr. Jane Goodall. Dr. Jane told us a bit about the history of Roots & Shoots, including that next year will be its 20-year anniversary. She also had encouraging words for us as she spoke about how Roots & Shoots is affecting young people everywhere.
Dr. Jane told us that she has often run into young people who feel hopeless, as though there is nothing they can do to make things better for animals and people and the environment. She believes that Roots & Shoots is spreading hope and enthusiasm – and she described us as being “ambassadors” for Roots & Shoots, as we spread the word through what we do about the ways that kids are truly making a positive difference and bringing about change – sometimes in ways that then spur adults to act.
All of us sat in a big circle and we talked for a long time about local issues and global change.
Some Roots & Shoots members talked about the apathy they see on their campus and about the lack of knowledge a lot of their peers have when it comes to environmental issues. Others talked about situations involving violence and what they are doing to try to stop it.
We also discussed ideas for an upcoming global Roots & Shoots campaign that will focus on endangered species and climate change. Roots & Shoots members suggested ways to reach out to people in their community and get them interested in learning more about how these topics are connected. We exchanged some interesting comments about “cute” and “not cute” animals that are being affect ed by climate change, and how these animals can be used as part of the campaign.
Our discussion ended with a look back and a look forward. Stories of success were shared and next steps were talked about. It was really inspiring to hear all the things these people have done to make the world a better place. One group told about their success creating a Roots & Shoots group in a low-income area with a lot of violence. We shared our success with getting a pilot composting program into our school – and our work ahead to convince other schools to do composting in their cafeterias.
One of the Roots & Shoots displays at this event was also about composting; kids at the Cotting School -- with whom the Harvard Roots & Shoots group is involved -- brought samples from different stages of the composting process to show how it actually happens.
We had a chance to ask Dr. Jane questions about her work, and a lot of
kids told her about the ways she had inspired them. It was amazing to see how much Dr. Jane has taught us all and to think about how we have all changed by being in Roots & Shoots.
Spreading the Word About Roots & Shoots
On Monday night., May 3, Eliza, Maya, Kaya and I participated in an event at the Currier House at Harvard University. It was an opportunity for those who have supported Roots & Shoots to visit with Dr. Jane. We were invited to show these guests our project and to share with them how Roots and Shoots has a positive impact on our lives.
We set up an exhibit on a table with the book we wrote – “Energy Lite,” posters with big photos of pages from our book and a Kill A Watt meter. People seemed to be genuinely interested in our project, and we were delighted to share with them what we’ve accomplished.
Everyone sat down to hear Dr. Jane Goodall speak. She talked about the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and Roots & Shoots. She spoke about her experiences starting various programs, working with kids, and of course about the chimps she studied for so many years in Africa! After Dr. Jane spoke, Eliza and I told the people about our experiences in Roots & Shoots.
Following Dr. Jane wasn’t easy, but we tried. We shared an overview of what we’ve accomplished over the years, and talked more specifically about our most recent project “Energy Lite.” We also spoke about how Roots & Shoots has motivated and encouraged us to do projects like this in our local community and at our school.
Without Roots & Shoots, The Sprouts of Hope would not have been formed and we would not have been able to make a difference as we have. Our motto is "Have a Dream. Make a Difference," and without Roots & Shoots, we might not have acted on our dreams.
An Evening at Harvard with Dr. Jane Goodall
On May 3, after our event at Harvard’s Currier House, the Sprouts of Hope traveled to Harvard’s Sanders Theater for another event with Dr. Jane. It began, her events usually do, with a very long applause from the audience, followed by a pant-hoot, which is the sound that chimpanzees make when they are excited. We’ve learned how to do it from Dr. Jane, whose pant-hoot is simply amazing to hear.
We listened as Dr. Jane and Harvard Professor Richard Wrangham, who worked for three years with Dr. Jane in Gombe, talk about what she’d learned about chimpanzees. It was 50 years ago that Dr. Jane arrived for the first time on the shores of Lake Tanganhika to begin her research on chimpanzees. We learned about the project called Takari, which means “take care,” and what it was doing to help the wild animals in the forest and the people in the nearby communities. We heard many inspiring stories from Dr. Jane about her experiences in Gombe.
We also heard the story of Mr. H, who of course spent the night sitting on the table besides Dr. Jane.
After their conversation and questions from the audience, Sally Sharp Lehman introduced the Sprouts of Hope and asked us to come to the stage. I gave short talk about what the Sprouts are doing and told the audience about our book project, “Energy Lite.” Here is some of what I said:
"Thank you, Dr. Jane, for giving us the confidence to believe that what we do can make a difference. We now know we can. And like those ROOTS that push rocks aside to become SHOOTS, we now know that nothing is impossible to accomplish."
Our friend, Abby Schoenberg, who is a member of the Harvard Roots & Shoots group, also gave a great speech about their projects and her love since childhood for Dr. Jane and Roots & Shoots.
Although the Sprouts have had the amazing opportunity to meet Dr. Jane in the past, I think that each time is more special then the last. This was a very wonderful and inspiring night. As we left Sanders Theater many people who we didn’t know came up to us to say congratulations. Later, I heard that Dr. Jane and Professor Wrangham spent the rest of the night signing their books!