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Dr Jane Goodall inspires Canterbury students of all ages

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Environmentalist, humanitarian and the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees Dame Jane Goodall has taken time in her New Zealand tour to inspire Canterbury students of all ages, from primary-school age up to University of Canterbury students in the Student Volunteer Army.

With the theme of thinking globally and acting locally, Dr Goodall visited Sumner School and was hosted by the University of Canterbury and Sumner School at two special events during her visit to Christchurch this week.

In the six weeks before Dr Goodall’s arrival, Sumner School teachers and children used her Roots and Shoots project design process to create solutions for regenerating areas in the Port Hills that were devastated by wild fires in February, managing pollution in the sea, and protecting endangered species. To reflect her immersive approach to science, the school library created a display of books by and about Dr Goodall.

After she was welcomed with a haka, Dr Goodall spoke to the school students, teachers and parents about the importance of protecting the local environment while being mindful of global trends such as climate change.

Dr Goodall spoke of "the need to reclaim the environment for future generations" and that "it will be hard work".

Representatives from each Year of Sumner School presented several ideas generated from the Roots and Shoots process. The Sumner students’ ideas included producing shopping bags from sustainable material, organising beach clean-up days, and improving the understanding of how local terrestrial and marine ecosystems work.

Staying with the theme of local involvement to address global challenges, Dr Goodall met with University of Canterbury students in the Student Volunteer Army and high school participants in the SVA’s UCan programme. Like the Sumner School students, the high school students had used the Roots and Shoots process to address concerns important to them.

Dr Goodall praised the SVA’s efforts in response to the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes and their sustained contribution as UC’s largest club and for running the UCan service and leadership programme for Year 12 high school students.

She drew comparisons to SVA’s impactful actions with her career-long work in the in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, to research and protect the chimpanzees.

Dr Hamish Cochrane, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) | Tumu Tuarua Akoranga, representing the University of Canterbury helped host the event, and says he was inspired to pursue science by Dr Goodall’s work.

"It was inspiring to meet the person who through her writing, in particular her book In the Shadow of Man, encouraged me to become a biologist," he says.

The UC Community Engagement Hub, led by Associate Professor Billy O’Steen, organised the student events to provide long-lasting inspiration for all ages and stages of education.

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