I attended a lecture by Jane Goodall at UCLA when I was about ten or twelve years old. It was a life defining moment, and I wish I remembered it more clearly. My youth then, and my age now have both taken a toll on my memory. I can’t even remember what year it was, much to my chagrin. 1978 or ‘9? ’80?

I do remember that it was in the evening and the weather was damp. It was the first time I’d ever been to a University and I remember feeling in awe of my surroundings and very grown up for being there.  Or that could have been another lecture…

I also attended a lecture with Mary and Richard Leakey* that year. My father was taking a class in anthropology at the time, which led to his interest and what possessed him to take me, a child still, along, I don’t know, but he did, and it transformed me.

Over the course of those two nights (however far apart they were) a love and respect would take root in me not just for anthropology but archaeology, environmentalism, evolution, science, feminism and activism.

He probably doesn’t realize the profound effect those two lectures had on me. He definitely doesn’t know that they started me down the path to becoming a leftist hippy. I wonder if he would have left me at home had he known then what it would make of me.

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“For, whatever the odds against us, we must go on with the struggle to save as much as we can of that which we love – the beauty of the forests and woodlands, the grasslands and moors, the mountains and the oceans, the parks and gardens and roadside verges where wild flowers are allowed to grow to provide nectar for the bees and butterflies.” — Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall’s work continued to inspire me to be a better person, to care about the earth, wildlife, nature and the environment. No matter the odds, we must save what we can of what we love.

Thank you, Jane, and thank you, Dad.

 

* It might have been a different son, or perhaps only a son, or only the mother. In my head, they were both there, but my head is prone to mixing things up, if it remembers them at all.

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