Article and Photo by Deborah Schildkraut, Ph.D.
Primatologist and humanitarian Dr. Jane Goodall’s global Roots & Shoots youth program has come to the Four Corners states in a big way! At events on March 30, 2007 in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Dr. Goodall announced the opening of the Four Corners Roots & Shoots Regional Office. Hundreds of children listened to Dr. Goodall encourage them to make the world a better place and assure them that children can make a difference. The new regional office, located in Santa Fe, will serve New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Former New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell, DVM will serve as Four Corners Regional Director. Dr. Powell’s exemplary environmental and veterinary credentials are the perfect combination for leading this regional effort.
Roots & Shoots is a service-learning program created by Dr. Goodall in 1991 for youth in Tanzania. Today the program is global with tens of thousands of young people participating in more than 8000 groups in over 100 countries. According to Dr. Powell, “ The Service Learning Program is based on Dr. Goodall’s belief that knowledge engenders compassion, and compassion inspires action. Our program works with young people, pre-K through graduate school, to plan and implement community-based projects that help people, animals and the environment. We believe that young people, when informed and empowered, can truly change the world.”
Bonnie Schmader is the New Mexico State Coordinator for Roots & Shoots. As an environmental educator, Bonnie has engaged over 25,000 students in environmental stewardship. Roots & Shoots programs are sprouting up all over New Mexico from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to Gallup to Las Cruces. Bonnie’s job is to encourage and support the development of groups throughout the state. Bonnie thinks the beauty of the program is that it is community-based. For each Roots & Shoots group, the project differs according to the needs of the community. She cites as an example the Roots & Shoots group at the S.Y. Jackson Elementary School in Albuquerque. The students adopted a 5-acre open space along the Bear Canyon Arroyo that runs near their school. The arroyo suffered from the impact of the public’s multiple uses of the area. The concrete embankments were marred with graffiti. Dogs–walkers had not cleaned up after their animals. The students’ project cleaned up and restored the arroyo. They painted over the graffiti, planted trees and installed dispensers for doggy waste disposal bags. Their actions have made the arroyo a wonderful place for the whole community.
Dr. Goodall’s vision for Roots and Shoots is remarkably simple – to change the world one person at a time. With the help of Dr. Powell, Bonnie Schmader and many other supporters, Roots and Shoots will be making a positive impact on the people, animals and environment throughout the Four Corners states. Through empowerment and service to their communities, thousands of young people already have.
To find out more about Roots & Shoots, visit www.rootsandshoots.org. If you are interested in starting a group in the Four corners states, call 505-988-1670.
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