While on vacation with a friend in late July, Junior Lauren Gibson got a call. Once she answered the phone, she was promptly told the good news. She had won the 2011 Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Global Leadership Award. She will be going to Hollywood on Sept. 24 for the award ceremony.

Gibson said, “I was really excited and honored to win. I feel like the award shouldn’t only go to me. It’s because of the Roots & Shoots network and my mentors that I was able to do all this.”

Roots & Shoots is a youth-driven, global humanitarian program aiming to make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment, according to the group’s website at www.rootsandshoots.org.

In 2008, Gibson heard about Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of Roots & Shoots and well-known humanitarian, and read more about the program. Thinking it was a good idea, she started the Carmel Area Roots & Shoots (CAR&S).

“I’ve always had a love for animals and the environment, and I figured the best way to show that love is to help them,” she said.

Since it was founded, CAR&S has done several projects from cleanups to fundraisers. Gibson is also part of the CHS club Carmel Green Teen, which has a micro-grant program and gives out grants to environmental groups and projects to help get them started.

Gibson said, “I like being able to see the results of my projects. With the micro-grant program, we go and visit all of the projects that we fund. Seeing the look on the kids’ faces when they win the award and seeing their actual projects in action, like all the recycling programs and organic gardens that we’ve started.”

For more information about the program and past grant recipients, visit www.carmelgreenteen.org.

After three years with Roots&Shoots Gibson now manages a lot of what goes on in CAR&S and is on three councils of the global program: regional, representing Carmel; national, representing the Great Lakes area; and international, representing the United States. She enjoys going on national retreats and meeting other people who are just as passionate about helping as she is.

After winning the R&S Global Leadership Award, Gibson wants to expand the micro-grant idea to other cities and is currently looking for sponsors willing to pick up the program since it helps smaller groups get started in environmental and humanitarian work.

“Awards aren’t really as important as doing the environmental work that lead up to it. But winning this award will help me spread the micro-grant program,” she said.

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