Roots and Shoots: Growing UT’s sustainability

by Tori Takacs

UT is well-known for having a wide range of diverse organizations on campus and on that list is the youth-led organization called Roots and Shoots. It was introduced on campus for numerous reasons, such as educating students about recycling and to create better recycling services.

Alexandra Marter, junior environmental science major, is the current president of Roots and Shoots.

“If students join our club, you don’t have to come to every meeting or event, but can participate in simply what you are willing and able to,” said Marter. “I recommend at least joining our portal on Engage, so you can stay updated on meeting notes and events.”

Roots and Shoots was founded as an international organization in 1991 by Dr. Jane Goodall, an English primatologist and anthropologist. Goodall is a famous environmental activist with a passion for raising awareness among today’s youth about protecting and preserving all of nature.

She created the organization to empower and encourage youth of all ages to pursue their passion, mobilize their peers, and become the leaders our world needs in order to ensure a better future for people, animals, and the environment.”

Roots and Shoots was brought to UT by Alana Boyles in 2014, according to an article on Boyles wanted to explore different ways in which she and her classmates could impact the world in a positive way. After listening to a speech by Goodall, Boyles brought the group to UT. Boyles said that the organization was meant to be a youth-led service-learning program that helps the community, environment and animals.

Senior Kristin Bashline has been an active member of Roots & Shoots since her freshman year. Coming from a more environmental and recycling-friendly area in Boulder, Colorado, Bashline wanted to find ways to raise awareness and inform her peers about being more eco-friendly here on campus. After getting a recommendation from a teacher, Bashline joined Roots and Shoots.

“I learned that there were so many things the organization does,” said Bashline. “I actually got to go to Costa Rica with a small group during spring break. We did jungle surveys which was walking around and recording different animals we saw there, we did a beach cleanup, we painted a schoolhouse, it was so much fun.”

Roots and Shoots also volunteers at the Big Cat Rescue and the Great Ape Center. They even help take care of a learning garden at a local elementary school during weekly volunteer sessions. Not only that, but every semester they do two cleanups along Bayshore and volunteer  at the Sustainable Living Project.

On April 19 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery, Roots and Shoots is helping to host the Recycling is BeaUTiful Art Gala.

During this formal event, 2D and 3D art made from recycled materials will be on display in celebration of Earth Day. The art pieces will be submitted by students and faculty and the more recycled materials used, the better.

There will also be a competition between the art pieces that includes prizes. Entries can be dropped off from April 15 to April 18. For more information contact

While the 2019 spring semester is coming to a close, Roots and Shoots will continue to be a force to be reckoned with on environmental awareness and protection for future semesters. Students are welcome to join at any time as there will always be more work to do. The organization meets every alternate Monday at 8 p.m. in Plant Hall 220.

“Roots creep under the ground to make a firm foundation,” said Goodall. “Shoots seem new and small, but to reach the light they can break through brick walls.”

Tori Takacs can be reached at

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