On Earth Day in 1998, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park opened with an elaborate celebration and at the middle of the festivities was famed primatologist and conservationist, Jane Goodall, Ph.D.. Dr. Goodall’s role with Disney has carried on throughout the years, where she has worked closely at times with Disney’s own environmental and conservation efforts. In 2011, Dr. Goodall presented Disney with the Jane Goodall Global Leadership Award recognizing The Walt Disney Company for its long-standing efforts to make the world a better place for all its inhabitants.
About 10-years before Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park opened, I was a young girl fascinated with animals. I remember getting a set of the “Animal Family” series of children’s books by Jane Goodall and loving them until their pages were creased and worn. Several years later I couldn’t set down, “My Life With The Chimpanzees.” Not only was I amazed at her life, but Dr. Goodall was inspirational. Her messages encouraged you to spread kindness and to follow your dreams. Messages similar to another childhood hero of mine: Walt Disney.
You’ve probably heard people talk about conservation. Well, conservation isn’t just the business of a few people. It’s a matter that concerns all of us. It’s a science whose principles are written in the oldest code in the world, the laws of nature. The natural resources of our vast continent are not inexhaustible. But if we will use our riches wisely, if we will protect our wildlife and preserve our lakes and streams, these things will last us for generations to come. –Walt Disney
Fast forward to this year, where Dr. Jane Goodall was present at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park once again, in partnership with The Disney Conservation Fund. The Disney Conservation Fund was established in 1995 and carries out Disney’s commitment to to “protect the planet, reverse the decline of its now most vulnerable wildlife, and instill lifelong conservation values in kids all over the world. “In the last two-decades, The Disney Conservation Fund has awarded grants to “more than three hundred nonprofit organizations” and has “helped protect hundreds of species and thousands of acres in nearly half of the countries on Earth.1” This year’s appearance by Dr. Goodall was to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Disney Conservation Fund and launch their newest initiative, “Reverse the Decline, Increase the Time.” She also shared a special message about Earth Day.
I followed the event closely through the Disney Parks Blog and Social Media and I’m not going to lie, I really wanted to be there. It’s not everyday you can see one of your childhood heroes and the fact that she was at Disney made it that much more incredible. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I secretly hoped somehow, Dr. Goodall would be available just a couple of weeks later during the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, but knowing she travels almost 300 days a year, I knew our chances were slim. As the lights in the conference room dimmed, Dr. Jane Goodall appeared in video form to personally address the attendees of the 2016 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. I think before she even uttered a word, I had goosebumps and tears had filled my eyes. This moment meant the world to me and was incredibly personal. It was two of my childhood (and adult) heroes coming together, sharing the message that anyone can make a difference in the world.
I apologize, the video is a little shaky as I was trying to wipe tears from my eyes so I could see, but here is our message from the incredible, Dr. Jane Goodall:
It doesn’t matter who you are or how big your voice is, you can make a difference. Social Media gets a bad wrap, but it can be positive and used to inform, educate and make a stand. The Jane Goodall Institute and The Disney Conservation Fund wouldn’t be as successful without their supporters both big and small. The Jane Goodall Institute offers many ways to get involved. Did you know you can become a Chimpanzee Guardian or join Jane’s Peak Society? If you’re not in the position to give financially, don’t worry, you can create or be the voice of many fundraisers and help raise awareness for the efforts of The Institute. One such opportunity is the Roots & Shoots program. “The Roots & Shoots program emphasizes the importance of enabling young people to connect with one another across national boundaries, religions and cultures. The Roots & Shoots website, www.rootsandshoots.org, provides members with helpful online tools, allowing them to take action, connect globally and combine forces. Project sharing, social media, blogs e-newsletters and downloadable resources enable youth to creatively and collaboratively take action.2” This program gives today’s youth the skills, confidence and ability to become the next Dr. Jane Goodalls of the world.
Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right. – Dr. Jane Goodall
I want thank the Disney Parks Team and the folks at the Jane Goodall Institute for making this moment possible and encouraging me to get involved. I hope you’ll take a moment to look into these programs and see how you can get involved too, or at least take a moment to spread awareness to these incredible causes. Also, be sure to visit my post about Disney’s Monkey Kingdom for a link to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Google Earth App. It’s a great way to explore all of the projects they have supported.
I was invited to the 2016 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration as a Guest of Disney and given a discounted resort stay, tickets and other benefits as such.
1. The Disney Conservation Fund: Carrying Forward A Conservation Legacy. John Baxter, 2016 Disney Enterpirses, Inc.
2. The Jane Goodall Institute, https://www.janegoodall.org