Jane Goodall Speaks at Ocean Reef


February  15, 2011 

From Ocean Reef,  Florida


     Dr. Jane Goodall, the world renowned chimpanzee research scientist, author, and tireless advocate for the conservation of the environment came to Ocean Reef, Florida on February 15, 2011 to speak in the Cultural Center.  Jack and I with Mirek Krajewski were three of the first people to arrive at the theater.   We had been looking forward to this event ever since we learned about it last  year.  As we anticipated, there was a full house before the program began.


     It was amazing to see Jane Goodall come to the podium carrying her little mascot, a knitted sock monkey, which she placed on the table next to her.  She is so lovely and so unchanged despite the fifty years since the start of her career.


     She wanted to share with us how that career was shaped.  But she wanted to bring the voice of the chimpanzee into the theater first.  She sounded a series of gentle hoots in ascending order and then translated it to a cheery “hello” in our language.   Satisfied that we heard the voice of the chimpanzee, she launched into her story.   It was very touching to hear her speak of her mother,  Vanne who had impressed upon her early in life that, “if you really want something, and you work hard enough, take advantage of opportunities, and never give up, you will find a way.”  Her mother was her companion when she first set foot on the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve of Tanzania to begin her research in 1960.   She was sent there by her mentor, paleontologist Louis Leakey, who had secured a small grant for her first research.  What followed has been the subject of many National Geographic feature articles, books, and films.  Dr. Leakey’s belief that chimpanzees were very similar to human beings was proven to be true by Jane Goodall’s research.  This study led to many more discoveries about primates and our world ecology as well.


     Today the research and conservation continues under the umbrella of the Jane Goodall Institute and the younger organization called “Roots and Shoots” which seeks to involve the next generation of potential scientists  and environmentalists in activities that will “Make Positive Change Happen!”.  They are true reasons for hope.   


     Jane Goodall spoke with firm conviction about these reasons for hope in a troubled world .  With all she has seen and experienced, it is truly hopeful to know that she believes we can make a difference.


     It was with this hope that I was able to approach Jane after the lecture with her new book, “Fifty Years At Gombe” in my hands waiting in line for her to sign it. 


     I knew the Cynthia Weglarz Rountree Fund might be able to help this cause as our mission parallels hers.  Speaking to her publicist, John Trybus, and then to Jane herself, I offered to link their website to ours.  They both were happy about this new connection to the work we do in memory of our daughter.    I told them about the efforts we have engaged in and the recent support of a film about the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, called Mary’s Woods.  Jane is aware of the efforts focused on the Bay.  It was a special conversation despite the briefness of the moment.  After thanking her for all she has done, I had to swallow the lump in my throat before speaking to Jack and Mirek who waited for me in the lobby. 


     The next day Michael Rountree made the website connections and you can find them under “useful links”.  Mike emphasized that this was a meaningful connection because Jane Goodall was an important role model for Thia.  She read her books with great personal and professional interest.  Mike was enthusiastic about making this happen.  When I told him that I would also submit an article to our website about the lecture and conversation, he said he would enter it on the homepage.


     I hope you will learn more about the Jane Goodall Institute and  “Roots and Shoots” by reading all about it on their websites.   Just click and travel to a whole new world of adventure, where you can make a difference!  And please let us know if you or your family make a personal commitment to become part of the “Roots and Shoots” efforts.


Cynthia C. Weglarz