It was back in August 2015 that I was invited along to accompany a friend to a VIP Jane Goodall event in London. At this time, my knowledge of Dr Jane was very minimal but after a bit more research and videos watched, I was taken by her passion, dedication and growth in the natural world. After the purchase of a couple of her books, I was ready to meet her. When the time came that I was in her presence, I trembled and words did not come out as planned other than expressing my love for Africa and leaving her with my book signed by her. In my stumble for words, Mary Lewis, Dr Jane’s personal assistant heard that I was to attend University and asked if I was interested in becoming an ambassador for Jane’s organisation – Roots & Shoots. Without hesitation and naivety, I agreed.
Returning to higher education after a nine-year break was something that required time to settle into. It was only at the start of my second year that I got in touch with Jasmina, Assistant to Executive Director, Education for Roots & Shoots. Jasmina instantly blew me away with her passion and welcomed me with open arms and I was then part of the team, ready to lead and inspire. Salford University now had a mark on the Roots & Shoots map and my job was to collect information and stories from students and their dedication to helping animals, the environment and/or people. As I am currently studying Wildlife and Practical Conservation, I instantly started blogging about wildlife students and their contributions, mainly focussing on the Wildlife Society (WS) and the Environment and Conservation Volunteering Society (ECVS). After posting my passion and commitment to animals, the activities of the societies, Jasmina was taken back by our various contributions and asked us to attend the Roots & Shoots Awards held in London on the 3rd March 2017. We were one of ten schools out of 2000 who were nominated for our achievements. I cannot believe this honour and we were certainly proud to represent Salford University.
Accompanying me was, Lori Moore (Chairperson of the WS), Rachael Fraser (Director of the ECVS), Ella Trickett (Student and co-owner of a zoo), Sevim Yildiz (Wildlife Student and volunteer). At the start of the day we had a stall displaying photos of all our activities from clearance of invasive species, seal rescue, saving a rescue in Zimbabwe by building their online presence, education in zoos, wild releases, bird surveys to name a few. People from all areas in conservation were present from The Disney Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Two Million Tusks, RSPCA, various zoos just dwarf the list. Networking, showcasing our work and learning about efforts by other schools were the priority at this time and then Dr Jane circulated the schools to meet the students and their teachers. A whole diversity of butterflies were present in our stomachs and a mixture of emotions from happiness and nerves.
Figure 1. Our stall, displaying our efforts.
What a gentle and soft soul.
When Dr Jane approached our stand with Tara, Director of Education for Roots & Shoots, we were proud to represent the university, share our passion and take turns in sharing our accomplishments.
Figure 2. The Salford University Stand
First was Lori with her teams long list of achievements from being part of a great and active society – litter picks, habitat management, tree planting, working on the universities green footprint, animal surveys. Rachael was up next with her new societies activities mainly focussed on marine rescue, beach clans and bird surveys. Next up was myself being a part of both societies and working on the website creation and management for an animal rescue facing closure in Zimbabwe and helping with international grants to save it. Ella came forward and discussed their achievements at the zoo in rescuing animals, working on breeding programmes of endangered species such as the Middle white pigs, and their future plans to help the pine martin and red squirrel.
Dr Jane was humble, gentle and displayed a great interest in our work. There was a sense of pride from her and we were just so happy to share her lifelong dream by making it happen: To inspire the younger generation and get them actively involved in helping people, the environment and animals.
The categories for the awards were, all nominated schools, Best Video, Best Photograph, Best School and Individual Endeavour. Rachael, Lori, Ella and I were all nominated for the latter category but this went to Joshua Lee Holden for his fundraising and volunteering who won a trip worth £2000 with Quest to either South America or Africa. Best School went to Dulwich Primary and our one and only Rachael won the Best Photograph category where she will accompany a celebrity chef, Raymond Blanc in Oxfordshire for the day. Receiving the school nomination award in front of a large audience of like-minded individuals from small to large organisations was an honour. To be shortlisted out of 2000 schools to just ten and to advertise the great education offered by The University of Salford and its lecturers was second to none.
Figure 3. Us with Dr Jane Goodall and Mr H. the chimp toy
Figure 4. Receiving our Nomination Award for The University of Salford
This was an experience never to be forgotten and one where we have returned energised and inspired to work harder and better in the year ahead to hopefully win. We would like to thank the organisers for a great day, congratulate all the winners and all who were nominated. We may be the little seeds but collectively we can grow roots and achieve greatness. Keep up the positivity and dedication and hope to see you all again next year.
Lastly, a big thank you to Dr Jane Goodall for the inspiration and giving us the chance to share our work. You are a true hero and a role model we all aspire to be.
Figure 5. Our certificates and trophy, not to forget…Mr H.
More links for our connection with Roots and Shoots.
Short video of the day – https://quik.gopro.com/v/yd0eYEBH8d/
Roots & Shoots Blog – http://www.rootsnshoots.org.uk/blog/category/schools/44745/
Uni Press Release – http://www.salford.ac.uk/news/articles/2017/caring-salford-student-nominatedfor-top-award