Jane Goodall-Emily Rhodes
Lessons from Young People
The opportunity to work for the Jane Goodall Institute when the problems in my community seemed acute and unsolvable to me. I felt small compared to things that were seemingly out of my control. In my new role as mentor for our Roots & Shoots members, I was tasked with helping these amazing young people realize their visions for making positive change in their communities. As my work progressed, I witnessed how open they were to my encouragement and how they often far exceeded my expectations. As they grew, I learned how to help them follow their passions and look at problems in their communities as personal challenges. Their energy and optimism was infectious. They inspired people they rallied to work alongside them, their teachers and classmates and almost always their bewildered parents. The transformations were remarkable, and I’ve been privileged to witness them bloom into caring responsible adults.
My perspective further changed as I was invited to host events with Dr. Jane. Her inspiration to the people she spoke to and shook hands with brought tears to their eyes. It was unlike anything I had ever witnessed. Nearly six years later, I still feel privileged to work for the Jane Goodall Institute. I learn new things every day from my colleagues and the young people we support, and I will carry the experience with me for the rest of my life. I bring these lessons with me as I perform my greatest responsibility—to be a good mother to my daughter. My expanded definition of “education” and my newfound ability to find strength and optimism in the strangest of places are the biggest gifts I can think of. Happy birthday, Jane, and thank you for the inspiration you give.
Emily Rhodes is the Jane Goodall Institute Roots & Shoots National Education Manager.