Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
“Every single day each of us makes an impact on the planet,” says anthropologist and primate specialist Dr. Jane Goodall. The question we have to ask ourselves, she says, is: “What kind of impact it will be?”
For Goodall, who was born on April 3, 1934, the answer has been to spend her lifetime studying wild chimpanzees and protecting them from extinction.
Goodall, who first traveled to Tanzania in 1960 at the age of 26, was the first person to immerse herself in the chimpanzees’ natural habitat and study their unique society as a “neighbor,” rather than an outsider.
Through her observations, Goodall discovered that chimpanzees had many social behaviors similar to humans – both good and bad – and were able to make and use tools, such as modifying twigs to dig for termites.
Launching her work because of a love for animals, Goodall, who had no college training in the beginning, went on to receive a doctorate from Cambridge University and start and support a variety of animal advocate and environmental groups, including the Jane Goodall Institute.
In addition to focusing on chimps and the ecosystems around them, Goodall’s approach to conservation looks at the needs of local people and the environment.
She is the author of numerous books and articles, including My Life With the Chimpanzees, In the Shadow of Man, Reason for Hope, and Seeds of Hope.
Frequently speaking around the world, Goodall has received many awards – the Order of the British Empire, United Nations Messenger of Peace Award, French Legion of Honor, Kyoto Prize, and Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Sciences.
Whether it’s protecting the Earth, its animals or mankind, Dr. Jane Goodall continues to show us that each of us can make a difference and effect positive change when we take the time to understand and care about others.
“Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue”
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