Jane Goodall gives UVU students a “reason for hope”

Jane Goodall, famed primatologist, was a guest lecturer for the UVUSA Senate Speaker Series, titled "Reasons for Hope." Photo courtesy of UVUSA.

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Jane Goodall is a legendary figure in the world of anthropology, primatology and environmental activism. UVU students had the opportunity to hear Goodall speak as part of the Utah Valley University Student Association Senate Speaker Series on Tuesday, Nov. 17. 

Goodall is commonly known for her profound studies in primatology. Goodall is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program — a program centered on the global movement of youth. Youth learn to empower themselves through voice and taking definitive actions to make compassionate decisions in the world. 

Goodall’s far-reaching influence was felt Tuesday as she shared  personal experiences and advice to students at UVU. Her message was reflected powerfully as she related some of her most exciting adventures. 

At the age of 26, she left her home in England to study chimpanzees in the rugged terrain of Tanzania, Africa. She quickly developed a deep love for the animals and people of Africa. With only a notebook in hand she developed a professional connection with Lewis Leaky, a famous Kenyan archaeologist and paleontologist. 

Leaky saw her deep compassion towards animals and dedication to understand chimpanzee behavior. He assigned her to study primates in the Gombe Stream National Park. Goodall expressed what was initially difficult for her as she began her first research assignment. 

“Chimpanzees are conservative,” she said. “It is hard establishing connections with them. I had no college education. [It took time] to determine their culture, personalities and behavior.” 

Goodall’s love for the chimpanzees, her protective nature towards the environment, and her compassion could be felt as she spoke during the UVU Senate Speaker Series. Even though it was conducted over Zoom meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her warmth could be felt.  

Goodall described how she has uniquely adapted to the challenges of COVID-19. Despite the worldwide devastation of the virus, Goodall has been able to go virtual. She continues to teach lectures and attend conferences inspiring many. 

“Virtual Jane is busier than ever,” she said with a smile. 

On the day of her UVU lecture, her team published five new videos. It is clear to see how relentless she is in her efforts to be an activist. 

Goodall’s dedication to science, conservation and people is apparent in the way she treats others. She enjoyed answering numerous questions from UVU students and did so with the highest level of patience and respect. 

“Every single living thing has an impact on the world every single day. At least some of us can choose what impact we create,” she said. 

Her awareness of current struggles alluding young college students was insightful. Willingly, she gave counsel towards students who may be unsure of their current educational goals. 

“If you are working on your bachelor’s degree or even your Ph.D and feel like you should be doing something else, it is not failure.  Find your passion,” she said. 

Goodall has left a wonderful legacy of accomplishing difficult things. In a world where many thought she would be unsuccessful, Goodall has triumphed. Her legacy will continue to live on and inspire the next generation. Some may say that Goodall gave up a lot to move to Tanzania. Those who know her would say that her sacrifice of time and compassionate heart has been true to her last name – she is truly “all good!”  

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