VSV student, Tahlia, meets Dr Jane Goodall


VSV student, Tahlia, meets Dr Jane Goodall

Virtual School Victoria Students and siblings, Tahlia and Joshua, met with Dr Jane Goodall as part of the Roots and Shoots youth service program.

Tahlia created and presented a short speech about looking after our environment.

Tahlia shares her experiences of meeting the well-respected ethologist, and her continuous journey on making the world a better place for all its living creatures.

A Twice in a Lifetime Experience

Most people are lucky to have a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet someone who has had a profound influence on their life. I’ve had two at the age of 12! I recently had the privilege of talking face-to-face for the second time to one of the world’s most eminent environmentalists, Dr Jane Goodall. I am Tahlia, a passionate environmentalist/activist. I am part of Dr Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program and a Youth Ambassador for Palm Oil Investigations.

My association with Dr Jane started when I was learning about female scientists through VSV Science in 2017 with my teacher, Christine Ewing, and came upon information about Dr Jane Goodall. As soon as I read about Dr Jane, I knew that I wanted to be just like her! She is a famous activist, environmentalist and primatologist. You may have heard of her as the woman who studied chimpanzees in the wild of Africa for decades! Soon after learning about her and the environmental problems associated with palm oil, I entered a competition through Roots & Shoots Australia to meet Dr Jane.

Palm oil is the most commonly used vegetable oil and is a popular cooking oil in many Asian countries. Palm oil is found in many everyday items such as chocolates, biscuits, soaps, chips, shampoo, detergents and much more. In fact, around 50% of supermarket products contain palm oil, but unfortunately it can be listed under many different names. For more information, please click here. Palm oil production has a huge effect on the environment. To grow the oil palm trees, large areas of biodiverse forest are burned and cleared. This destroys animal habitats, reduces biodiversity, and increases carbon dioxide in the environment.

What a surprise when I got a phone call saying that I was chosen to meet Dr Jane! In June 2017, I represented VSV while meeting Dr Jane at the Brisbane Museum. I was able to show her the display I had prepared on palm oil, and asked her about her adventures in Gombe National Park in Tanzania where she studied the chimpanzees. I was beyond excited when she requested that we keep in contact!

Fast forward to 2019. While I am still actively campaigning about palm oil, I have also been researching and educating people about a very local issue through Roots & Shoots: the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum. The Leadbeater’s Possum is a nocturnal, fast moving marsupial that only lives in Victoria, Australia. The Leadbeater’s possum is Victoria’s faunal emblem, and they breed and sleep in hollowed out Mountain Ash, Alpine Ash, or Shining Gum trees. It takes around 150 to 200 years for a tree to become hollow enabling Leadbeater’s to build nests, so the fewer old trees there are, the fewer places Leadbeater’s can live. Bushfires and logging are the main threats for the Leadbeater’s because they destroy their biodiverse habitat and sleeping areas.

I was ecstatic when I found out that Dr Jane was coming back to Australia this year in May! Part of her visit to Melbourne was to attend a tree planting session with young people, and to also visit the Melbourne Zoo to hear presentations from select Roots & Shoots members. I was truly honoured to be selected to meet her at the Melbourne Zoo with six other lucky kids, and show her my display and video I had prepared about the Leadbeater’s Possum. You can find a link to my video by clicking here.

When the day finally arrived, I was jumping out of my skin! Dr Jane seemed to genuinely enjoy hearing about my research and the plight of the Leadbeater’s. It was fantastic to represent VSV again and spend time with Dr Jane for a second time! See my story, please click here.

Like our meeting in 2017, this was certainly a day I will remember for the rest of my life. Dr Jane is my biggest inspiration and one day I want to be just like her!

“I like to envision the whole world as a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces of the puzzle scattered all over the place. If you look at the whole picture it is overwhelming and terrifying, but if you work on your little part of the jigsaw and know that people all over the world are working on their little bits of it, that’s what will give you hope.” — Dr Jane Goodall

For more information about Dr Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots youth service program, please click here.

For more information on the fantastic work Tahlia does, please click on this Roots and Shoots link, and on the Palm Oil Investigations link.

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