Twelve-Year-Old Singing for Her Hero, Dr. Jane


The enthusiasm and creativity of young people holds a special place in Dr. Jane’s heart.  As one of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots National Youth Leaders, I would love to share the story of a twelve-year old singer who stole all of our hearts.  

Meet Ava Willis.  She wrote a song about Dr. Jane for a school assignment and made a beautiful video of her singing it in the first person while strumming along on her ukulele.  Ava is sharing Dr. Jane’s story using her own passion, music.

I had the opportunity to chat with the awesome Ava about her song, her passion, and her desire to #belikeJane.  Scroll to the bottom to watch her sing her song.

Ava Willis

Age: 12

Favorite animal: Cat or fish!

Favorite color: Yellow because it’s the color of happiness and sunshine

Favorite food: Fruit

Favorite subject: Science (Dr. Jane would agree!)

Tell me a little bit about your school assignment.
My English teacher said that there was a biography project, with a list of a whole bunch of people that you could pick.  At first, I picked five people (including Mother Teresa, Audrey Hepburn, and of course, Dr. Jane!) and did a little bit of research on each of them, but in the end, I chose Jane Goodall.  We had to present it in first person, like performing a play, act, or a song.  The night before, I had been practicing my ukulele and I made up a tune, so I chose to do a song using that tune.

How long have you been singing?  What instruments do you play?
I’ve always been singing, and I play piano, a little guitar, and ukulele.  I actually learned how to play a lot from Youtube.

I’ve written a lot of songs before. Last Christmas someone gave me a music book, and I write all of my songs in that book.  I write songs every day. They are all about different things…  one of the songs I’m working on now is really special.  It’s about my sister Sara who is a cancer survivor.  It’s about her cancer journey and what happened, and how much I love her.

What do you love about Dr. Jane?
I think she’s really cool because I love how she found out that chimps could make and use tools just like humans. I also want to be a scientist someday, so I think her life is really interesting.  I want to be a marine biologist.

If you had to describe yourself in three words what would they be?
Musical, because I love music, scientific, and artistic.

If you had a free day to do anything, what would you do?
I would spend the day doing charity work. I would probably help Stillbrave, a cancer organization. My sister Sara is a cancer survivor, so I would love to help them.

If could tell Dr. Jane anything, what would you say?
That’s she my idol! And I appreciate everything she does.

What do you want to tell other kids who love Dr. Jane just as much as you?
Dr. Jane’s message is to follow your dreams, and it’s a very good message and you should follow your dreams.

Ava is a perfect example of a young person utilizing her talent to spread Dr. Jane’s message of hope.  Like Ava, each of us should strive to use our strengths and passions to do something to inspire change.

Watch Ava’s song, written and performed from the point of view of Dr. Jane, and don’t forget to #belikeJane — hopeful, creative, resilient, and brave. More importantly,  BE LIKE YOU and set the world ablaze by spreading hope in your own unique way.



The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

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About Author

Olivia is a member of the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC). As a member of the NYLC, Olivia acts as a youth voice and works to make a positive change in her community — for people, animals and the environment. She is a high school student in Massachusetts and has been the leader of their Roots & Shoots Club since 2013. Olivia is a public speaker, scientist, artist, writer, and Youtuber. Learn more about Olivia here: