By Roshana Nabi, Roots & Shoots NYC Service Learning Consultant

Roots & Shoots is all about young people, around the world, doing projects and campaigns in their communities for people, animals, and the environment. There is so much inspiring work happening all over! Read on for some more reflections on Roots & Shoots service learning with student groups and educators in New York City.

New York City Reflections…

There are many ways that educators can be supported when implementing Roots & Shoots service learning with their young people. Recently, we were fortunate to be able to help facilitate a video conference between Madison V., a member of the Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council, and a 5th grade class at PS 165Q in Queens, NY. Madison is involved in international work to protect orangutan habitats and advocate for sustainable alternatives to the palm oil industry. The students in this 5th grade class were working on this issue during their unit on primates as well as other issues in corporate social responsibility, and jumped at the opportunity to connect with Madison! 

During their reflection after Madi’s presentation, students wrote:

"This skype call with [Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council Member] Madi really inspired me to do something even though people will laugh at us. Soon when this problem gets fixed they won't be laughing anymore. Madi is like a role model for me. One thing I can say is, 'You have to save this earth and all the animals on it. But one change can be from anyone — even a kid.'"

"I got inspired by Madi from our Skype conversation with her…because she talked about never giving up and to continue standing up for what you believe in. I learned that throughout life, you may meet people that want to denigrate you because they may be jealous.  Others tried to put Madi down but Rhiannon and she stood up for what they wanted to stand up for and they actually got Jane Goodall to sign their petition to save the orangutans!"

The students were bubbles of energy, lining up to ask questions and brainstorm ways to continue their project based on what they had learned. There are many service learning organizations, but what I feel certainly sets Roots & Shoots apart is that students can immediately connect to a role model who is a young person themselves and who can inspire them to continually strive to achieve their own goals.

Even when educators experience challenges (we all do at some point!), a great lesson they have learned is that everything in service learning is an opportunity for the students to reflect and use creativity and problem-solving to determine how to change their course to improve. Learning how to create solutions and develop positive attitudes around overcoming obstacles (at any level: personal, academic or in the community) is one of the most important lessons of service learning.

Keep up the great work, Roots & Shoots-ers, and continue to share with us in project reports and on social media how you are making a difference!

If you are an educator of any kind and would like to be notified about bringing Roots & Shoots to your young people, sign up here to learn when the opportunity to be involved in Roots & Shoots service learning becomes available this summer!

Click here to read part one of this blog.