WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and UN Messenger of Peace, spent the past several weeks visiting Tanzania, the country which is home to her now-famous wild research on chimpanzees, where she pioneered community-centered conservation, and founded JGI's globe-spanning youth-led action program Roots & Shoots. On this particular trip, Dr. Goodall spent time celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Roots & Shoots program. Dr. Goodall celebrated by visiting schools that have been involved in the program for a number of years, and participated in tree plantings in honor of the Jane Goodall Institute's Growing Together campaign to mark the anniversary.

The Roots & Shoots program was launched in 1991 after Dr. Goodall became alarmed at the hopelessness that many young people felt about their futures. Dr. Goodall often remarks, that she observed young people feeling that there was nothing that could be done to protect the future of our planet. As a pioneer in the practice of community-centered conservation, Dr. Goodall knew that no conservation effort would ever be worth much if the young people in the community do not embrace it. And so in Tanzania, with 12 young people, Dr. Goodall launched Roots & Shoots in 1991 to help young people experience change-making first hand. Together, they identified problems in their own communities and developed their own solutions to address them.

"When I first met with high school students 25 years ago in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — the first group of Roots & Shoots, I hoped that it would spread to other countries. I could not have dreamt that a quarter of century later it would represent thousands of young people around the world learning about local problems, planning projects and creating so many hands on activities to benefit their communities, animals and the environment we all share," Dr. Goodall remarks. " I am immensely proud of all those who have been a part of the program over the years and hope that 2016 will be a year of celebration of all that Roots & Shoots has achieved and a platform to launch us ever further in the years ahead."

Now, two and a half decades later, the program spans the globe, with young people launching projects on every continent. In the program's history, Roots & Shoots groups in the United States have reported approximately 4,500 community projects, which have logged more than 140,000 hours of service. Following a four step formula for community action, groups meet during class, after school, at community centers, and even in their friend's living rooms, to identify practical solutions to problems facing their communities. Roots & Shoots projects range from creating habitats for local or endangered animal species to addressing water quality and conservation to organizing food and clothing donations. Approximately 531,000 Roots & Shoots members are active in more than 100 countries around the globe.

"Roots & Shoots youth aren't waiting to become the 'leaders of tomorrow'," said Erin Viera, vice-president of Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots. "They are taking steps to become aware of the issues facing their communities and identifying real ways to enact change." Organizers fondly refer to Roots & Shoots youth as "the next generation of Jane Goodalls."

In honor of the 25th anniversary, Roots & Shoots has launched a global campaign entitled "Growing Together." In the United States, the Growing Together Campaign calls upon youth to do 2 things: 1. grow something for people, animals, and/or the environment and, 2. reflect on how their experience with Roots & Shoots has helped them to grow.

Visit rootsandshoots.org/25years_USA to sign up for your free membership with Roots & Shoots and learn how to participate in the Growing Together Campaign.

About the Jane Goodall Institute
Founded in 1977, the Jane Goodall Institute continues Dr. Goodall's pioneering research on chimpanzee behavior — research that transformed scientific perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals. Today, the Institute is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. It also is widely recognized for establishing innovative community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and for Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots, the global environmental and humanitarian youth program, which has groups in more than 120 countries. For more information, please, visit janegoodall.org.

About Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots
Founded in 1991 by Dr. Jane Goodall and a group of Tanzanian students, the Roots & Shoots program is about making positive change happen — for our communities, for animals and for the environment. With hundreds of thousands of young people in more than 120 countries, the Roots & Shoots network connects youth of all ages who share a desire to create a better world. Young people identify problems in their communities and take action. Through service projects, youth-led campaigns and an interactive website, Roots & Shoots members are making a difference across the globe. For more information, please visit rootsandshoots.org.

A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=39016

CONTACT: Shawn Sweeney email: ssweeney@janegoodall.org phone: 703.682.9283

Source:The Jane Goodall Institute