Editor’s note: In September, Care2 held a contest to give one lucky winner and a friend the chance to fly to Los Angeles and meet Dr. Jane Goodall, famed environmentalist and humanitarian. Read these stories of the Los Angeles adventures of the winner Renee Covert and her sister-in-law, Ann Covert, both teachers in Illinois.
We had the most wonderful time.
Meeting Jane Goodall was a very “large” moment in my life and I will never forget it. I love my sister-in-law dearly and we had the best time with all of this. I was so thrilled for her.
I can’t quite explain all of the emotion that we had those two days, but it was most certainly exceeded with the night in the studio and watching it all unfold. Jane Goodall had a strong, yet gentle presence in the room. I enjoyed just sitting and watching what she did and how she responded.
When we were introduced, Renee was talking first, of course — and I stood behind holding my copy of her most recent book, Hope for The Animals…she saw the book in my hand and reached out for it! I greeted her and told her who I was and that I taught 4th graders at May Watts Elementary School. I told her I also taught Ecology Club and that she needed to know that truly children are aware, involved and care about this planet and making change where it’s needed. I asked her if she knew May Watts, and she said “no” (not surprisingly), but then I continued on with “you would have enjoyed her…I think you would have liked knowing her and learning who she was and what she stood for.”
For May Watts, our school’s namesake, was an environmentalist – truly influential in this part of Illinois in helping create awareness of indigenous vegetation such as woodland wildflowers, Illinois prairie plants and trees. I have written a play about her life that we perform every now and then at our school.
It was a brief moment, but enough for me. The rest of the night was so inspiring. The movie was extremely moving. I left…different.
When I came back to Illinois and told my children what I had experienced…I really took the time to share my emotions (all of them) about the entire event. I have an incredibly respectful group of 4th graders and they listened with great passion. I told them all that I could. I described moments in the film, I shared the stuffed chimp she carries and the necklace Jane wore. They listened closely. I have shown Jane Goodall video clips to them and they admire her so. It seems that some felt they needed to accept the “charge” and agreed to do something — something that would help make a difference. They immediately had all sorts of ideas.
Then, one girl who looks just like Jane Goodall would have looked as a young girl (funny moment for us!) — spoke up and said…”If we are the ones that messed up this world, then we are the ones to fix it!” And I tell you, it was as if the kids were just struck with a determination to do so. They wrote this little girl’s quote in their spiral notebooks and chattered with their ideas. I stood and marveled at them.
Renee and I had a great time. In the morning we got in the car and hiked the Backbone Ridge Trail off Kanan Rd and also got to Paradise Cove in Malibu. We collected rocks, looked at the vegetation on the trail, noticed the water erosion in the canyon and more. Thank you, thank you Care2, for all that you did. Truly!
Mrs. Ann Covert
4th grade teacher
May Watts Elementary
I was very excited to meet Jane Goodall. She is an amazing woman. I knew of her research with chimpanzees and was a little familiar with her interest in research on the hippos. I did not know all the other animal, nature and human interests that she is involved with. Talk about work ethic!
Several weeks ago I had been viewing some clips on animal cruelty and about the plastic pollution in our oceans and wildlife when I saw a comment saying “We cannot stop it!” I felt distressed and a sense of hopelessness overwhelmed me to the point where I even used it as my own facebook status. Hopelessness is contagious!
But only a couple weeks later I attended the Jane Goodall Live event and here is what I learned from Jane. Never give up hope! We all need to play a part. Together we can make a difference, for we are really only borrowing this planet. It belongs to our child and to our grandchildren and to future generations. We need to take care of it now so they can enjoy the animals and nature as we do. Thank you, Care2, for this opportunity that has refreshed my view of the possibilities of preserving our world. I do intend to do my part in the classroom and beyond.
Renee M. Covert
8th Grade Science Teacher
Huth Middle School, S.D. #162
Photo: from left to right: Jane Goodall, Renee Covert, Ann Covert