The Acadia Alumni Association, in partnership with the Acadia Sustainability Office and Acadia University, presented Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, on April 8, 2019 at Festival Theatre in Wolfville.
A packed house listened raptly to Dr. Goodall’s presentation, “Inspiration in Action”, which detailed her time in the forests of Tanzania, armed with little more than a notepad, a pair of binoculars and a dream of living in Africa and observing wildlife. From the moment she witnessed a chimpanzee make a tool to her decision to leave the Gombe forests on a quest to save chimpanzees, her emergence as a prominent activist, conservationist and advocate for the planet and its inhabitants was clear. By sharing her unique life experiences through video, stories and conversation, Dr. Goodall discussed these challenging times and her reasons for hope.
Dr. Goodall told the crowd that she travels 300 days a year, speaking to groups and organizations, describing how each species on the planet plays a part “in this wonderful tapestry of life.” She offered reasons for hope in troubled times, citing the energy and commitment of people around the world to support sustainability practices; the power of the human brain and its capacity to make conscious decisions; the resilience of nature; social media as a tool to show solidarity; and finally, the indomitability of the human spirit.
She also encouraged audience members to join her Roots and Shoots initiative, which empowers and encourages youth of all ages to pursue their passion, mobilize their peers, and become the leaders the world needs to ensure a better future for people, animals, and the environment.
“Every single day you live,” she said, “you make a difference, and there is hope if we all do our bit.”
Acadia’s Sustainability Coordinator Jodie Noiles organized the event, which was three years in the making, and inspired by her work with Acadia students who care deeply about social and environmental issues such as climate change, conservation and social justice. She thanked Dr. Goodall for visiting Acadia, for sharing her inspirational story and encouraging students to continue doing work that makes a difference on campus, in their communities and around the world.
Students were equally enthusiastic. Samantha Teichman, who is pursuing a degree in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies, said, “it was truly an honour to spend the afternoon listening to Jane Goodall speak about her research. Her presentation was filled with inspiration and hope and, as a young female researcher, I left feeling inspired not only to continue researching, but to pursue activism within my community and create change in our society.”
Co-President of Acadia’s Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ESST) student society Melissa Grandberg said, “Dr. Jane Goodall’s message of hope was exactly what I and many students needed to hear. She acknowledges the many environmental and social issues we are facing and the urgent need for us to take action, but does so in a way that allows room for hope and possibility. Her faith in the power of nature’s resiliency and the ability of individuals and communities to make great change gives us the inspiration to continue to fight the challenging, but necessary battle for a better world.”
The Alumni Association was instrumental in securing Dr. Goodall’s visit by providing timely financial support that enabled her arrival. Association President Ryan Conrod (’06) said, “the Alumni Association was excited about this partnership given Dr. Goodall’s international renown and her steadfast commitment to research, conservation and education. We thought it would be great to have her on campus and knew that the entire Acadia community would be impacted by her presentation.”
The Alumni Association supports many campus events, activities and student financial aid initiatives throughout the year. Conrod says, “we were particularly drawn to this opportunity given the lasting impact an event of this calibre would have on the institution and those who were lucky enough to attend on the 8th. Our Association exists to bring about the unity of Acadia graduates and leverage these strong alumni connections to the betterment of the institution. Supporting Dr. Goodall’s visit to campus to discuss her research and experiences with students, alumni and other community members was a great way for the Alumni Association to promote and support Acadia.
He added, “Dr. Goodall has been recognized across the globe for her research, teaching and activism. It says a lot that Acadia can attract such a prominent figure to campus and I am confident that our worldwide network of alumni recognizes the importance of her presence here. The Association takes a great interest in what is happening at Acadia and is proud to support events like these.”
The Alumni Association Board has also opened a dialogue to explore the possibility of sponsoring future lectures and Conrod hopes that these discussions result in a lasting commitment so that similar events can be hosted on campus.
Pictured in the photo are: third-year student Melissa Grandberg; Sustainability Coordinator Jodie Noiles; Alumni Association President Ryan Conrod (’06); Dr. Jane Goodall; University President Dr. Peter Ricketts; Assistant Professor Dr. Martin Tango; and fourth-year student Sam Teichman. (Photo: Fred Sgambati)
For more information about the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, visit https://janegoodall.ca/
Written by Fred Sgambati (’83)