The last of the presenters in the inaugural season of the #ArizonaSpeakerSeries was Dr. Jane Goodall. That’s right, the lady who lived with the chimpanzees. And today just happens to be her 85th birthday.
And let me tell you, Dr. Goodall is one feisty lady.
In July 1960, at the age of 26, she traveled from England to what is now Tanzania and ventured into the little-known world of wild chimpanzees. Equipped with little more than a notebook, binoculars, and her fascination with wildlife, she took an unorthodox approach in her field research, immersing herself in the chimps’ habitat and their lives to understand them not only as a species, but also as individuals with emotions and long-term bonds. And she did it all without a college degree (that came later).
She told the sold-out crowd that none of her success would have been possible if it weren’t for her mother.
Now many of us can say we owe a lot to our mothers’ encouragement that we can be anything we want to be and do anything we want to do. But in Dr. Goodall’s case, her mother’s encouragement meant taking in all the creepy crawlies and the stray animals, sleeping with the chickens and basically telling her daughter that if Dr. Doolittle could talk to the animals, so could she.
And talk she did…and still does.
Her work continues today through the Jane Goodall Institute, whose work focuses on conservation, advocacy, animal protection, environmental education and healthy habitats.
And sprinkled in with her wonderful stories of her research and relationships with the chimps, were some important messages that we can all apply today:
And she ended her talk asking all of us to be curious, ask questions and to not give up on what we believe in.
She knows of what she speaks.