How One Environmentalist Changed Our World: Jane Goodall

by Saba Azimipour from Fredericksburg, Virginia

141692Jane GoodallMark Schierbecker / CC BY-SA (

As children, we are easily influenced by those around us. In the third grade, my class did a project on endangered species. My chosen animal was the chimpanzee, but one can’t really research the chimpanzee without learning about their biggest supporter, Jane Goodall. Jane Goodall is a world-renowned expert on chimpanzee behavior and an advocate for animal rights and the environment. From a young age, her activism and fieldwork intrigued me. A woman at the top of the world in a male-dominated field? That was something my third-grade ears could get used to. Jane Goodall said: "My mission is to create a world where we can live in harmony with nature” (Qtd in National Geographic). This philosophy has been praised ever since and changed the way we see humanity. In today’s world more than ever, we need activists and people who are willing to go the extra mile. A hero in our modern world embodies that ideal. With a worldwide impact, Jane Goodall is both a hero in science and an inspiration to many. Jane Goodall is exemplary of a hero because she has proven through her work and inspiration that she exhibits the characteristics of passion, patience, and curiosity.

Passion is ambition that is materialized into action, and Jane Goodall’s passion for science and for reaching others was exactly that, her ambition put into action. A majority of the time, passion manifests at a young age. As a child, Goodall would watch chickens lay eggs or study animals in her backyard. This ambition and love for learning about animals led her to her future studies and career in anthropology and environmentalism. Leaving everything behind, without any formal education, she traveled across the world to study primates in a way that no one had done before, and because of that, she discovered many vital aspects of primate life. She pursued this field research for many years, eventually getting her Ph.D. in ethology from Cambridge in 1965. Her passion, especially without a college degree or professional education beforehand, led to her incredible scientific success. 

After attending a conference in 1986 focused on the ethical treatment of chimpanzees, Goodall’s passion switched to activism. She started to work on educating the public about the endangered habitats and unethical animal use in science. “Over the past 45 years, Goodall herself has also evolved — from steadfast scientist to passionate conservationist and humanitarian” (TED). Because of her ability to pursue what she believed in and so adventurously chased, she has been considered a hero for many around the world, whether they are professional scientists or the average person; her passion drives others. Her passion for activism has inspired many, and her work has also had extensive and long-lasting effects on things like the way we define and view the human race. Her research even set a new standard for how behavioral studies are conducted. 

In the world of environmentalism and research, patience makes a huge difference. Goodall’s patience in her field research and in spreading awareness helped to build her incredible impact on our world. She has spent a grand total of fifty years in the jungles of Tanzania. In her years of living among chimpanzees in Gombe, she created one of the most trailblazing studies of primates in modern times. She has also written over twenty-five books, winning UNICEF prizes for her children's books and other awards. Goodall’s work with chimpanzees and primates took many years and gave the scientific community vital information as shown through this quote by the National Geographic Society: “During her time there she made three observations of chimpanzees that challenged conventional scientific theories held at the time… These insights altered the way we understood our place in the animal kingdom and opened doors for other women in science.” Her patience in her years of work has proven almost unsurpassed, and this patience even paved the way for other women in her scientific field to follow. Goodall travels approximately 300 days a year for research and awareness for wildlife habitats. A National Geographic explorer, a United Nations peace messenger, and the president of Advocates for Animals, she embodies the heroic aspect of patience because her reach goes far beyond the day she stops working. 

Curiosity is one of the most vital characteristics of human discovery. Without it, we wouldn't strive for new knowledge in the way that we do. Jane Goodall’s curiosity not only permanently changed multiple different scientific fields but also inspired a whole other generation of environmentalists. "Isn't that the making of a little scientist? Curiosity, asking questions, not getting the right answer, deciding to find out for yourself, making a mistake, not giving up, and learning patience” (Qtd by BEC crew). This quote from Goodall shows how curiosity affected her life, her success, and even her passion. Curiosity gives us the ability to learn and grow. This heroic trait is one that she exhibits in herself and has also passed onto the next generations to make impacts of their own. As mentioned before, her insights altered the way we understood our place in the animal kingdom and opened doors for other women in science. Her curiosity drove her to have a mission for humanity, and she became not only the first woman to do many of her geological tasks, but also the best in the world. Her curiosity is heroic because of the mark it left for women, the scientific community, and for future generations. 

Jane Goodall left a mark on the world of field research, environmentalism, activism, feminism, and much more. Her reach extends far outward into the global community. Goodall’s passion helped her in her professional and scientific work, her patience built her influence, and her curiosity inspired both herself and others to go further and change the world. Jane Goodall once said, “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference” (Goodall 34). I believe that she has lived by that, and her work and leadership is something that everyone can learn from, from a third grader doing a project on endangered species to the most renowned ethologists.

Works Cited 

Crew, Bec. “WATCH: An Ode to Curiosity.” ScienceAlert,

Goodall, Jane. “Jane Goodall.” TED,

“Jane Goodall.”, A&E Networks Television, 26 June 2019,

National Geographic Society. “Jane Goodall.” National Geographic Society,

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Jane Goodall.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 21 Oct. 2019,

“The Jane Goodall Institute Homepage.” The Jane Goodall Institute,

Wbur. “Jane Goodall Reflects On Her Younger Self, As Seen In Recently Discovered Footage.” Jane Goodall Reflects On Her Younger Self, As Seen In Recently Discovered Footage | Here & Now, WBUR, 20 Aug. 2018,

Page created on 1/10/2020 3:06:24 PM

Last edited 3/29/2023 1:49:16 PM

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