The student news site of Aspen High School


The student news site of Aspen High School


The student news site of Aspen High School


Jane Goodall Aspen Youth Lecture

Elsa Tullar
Dr. Jane Goodall speaking in Harris Hall at the ACES Aspen Youth Lecture.

On September 11, 2023 scientist, ethologist, and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall stepped onto the Harris Concert Hall stage in Aspen Colorado to educate young minds about meaningful changes to achieve a better world for humans, other animals, and the planet we share.

Curious, visionary, and original all describe Dr. Jane Goodall. From a young age, Goodall developed a deep passion and love for nature and protecting the environment. When she was eight years old she read the book series of Tarzan and Dr. Doolittle which sparked her interest in traveling around the world, specifically in Africa to interact and work with the animals featured in her favorite stories. Although Goodall could not afford college, after graduating high school she attended a secretarial school in South Kensington. There, she learned to perfect her typing, shorthand, and bookkeeping skills. Throughout her studies, she continued to dream about the goals she had developed as a child and eventually took the initiative of building her savings to travel the world and follow her dreams.

In July 1960, Goodall traveled from England to Tanzania and ventured into the unknown territory of chimpanzees in Gombe National Park. With limited preparation or knowledge about the subject, she set off into the vast and unforgiving wilderness. From a young age, Goodall’s father was absent in her life due to his service in WWII, so she was raised by her mother Vanne. Goodall and Vanne created a bulletproof mother-daughter relationship which was essential for Goodall to have the ability to pursue her dreams. As she embarked on her journey to Africa, she underwent a variety of emotions including nerves, sadness, and joy, and her mother stuck by her side for the entirety of her travels.

Throughout Goodall’s early studies in Africa, she developed a further understanding of chimpanzees and discovered that they have the ability to make and use tools. This discovery has been considered one of the greatest achievements of the twentieth century. In 1977, Goodall founded the Jane Goodall Institute to support her research in Gombe and increase chimpanzee habitat protection.

“You are looking straight into his eyes (a chimpanzee) and you are looking at someone who has so much vitality and so much love of life. With so much enthusiasm for making change, you are humbled. And it is a great reason that these people out there are doing amazing things, showing the strength of the human indomitable spirit,” Goodall said in her speech at the Harris Concert Hall on September 11, 2023.

After conducting field research in Africa for over 26 years, Goodall changed her course of study, and in 1986 she was compelled to leave her fieldwork in order to focus on environmental activism. She traveled around the world to speak about her experiences in Gombe and the importance of pitching in to protect the environment. Not only did Goodall speak around the world but she worked closely with youth as they are the generation with the ability to make change. In 1991 Goodall was confronted by a group of children expressing their concerns about the diminishing heath of our planet and then took the initiative of offering the kids an opportunity to co-found Roots and Shoots, a program at work with young people in 100 countries to foster the upcoming generation of conservation leaders that the world desperately needs.

“We are living through dark times and it’s not surprising that people have lost hope. And that’s why I say to them, think about something you care about in your community, reach out to friends to see what you can do. Realize that by working on a project you can make a difference. And that’s why I have so much hope in the young people,” Goodall said in her speech.

Today, at the age of 89, Goodall continues to travel around the world writing, speaking, and spreading hope to the people who strive to make a difference. Her encouragement and thoughtful words shed light onto a crisis that seems so overwhelming and out of control that we are paralyzed with fear. However, by gathering loved ones together, by living every day with a purpose, and by consistently taking positive steps to restore what we have lost, we have the ability to create significant change to our climate and live in harmony.

“We are being divorced from the natural world,” Goodall said in her speech in Aspen. “If we work with our head and our heart in harmony we can sense where we have gone wrong. We tend to make decisions not based on how will this harm the future but on how will it help us now. Head and heart have moved away from harmony with each other. I truly believe only when head and heart work in harmony can we obtain our true human potential. And our true human potential is outgrowing us and how we are moving towards a better world. Every single one of us makes an impact on the planet every single day. And everybody in this room, we have a choice about what sort of impact we make.”

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About the Contributor
Elsa Tullar
Elsa Tullar, Editor-in-Chief
Elsa is a senior at AHS and is one of the Editor-in-chiefs for the Skier Scribbler.  This is her third year participating in the journalism program and has enjoyed exploring different leadership positions and styles of writing.  Elsa is an avid skier and pickleball player and will do anything to get a plate of tacos.  Additionally, Elsa enjoys spending her time being active outside and educating young students about journalism and the environment.

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