TPHS student presents at Jane Goodall’s National Youth Leadership Summit

Yoyo Watanabe
Yoyo Watanabe

Torrey Pines High School sophomore Yoshino (Yoyo) Watanabe was invited to join 30 youth across the United States for the Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) Virtual Summer Summit of the Jane Goodall Institute on Aug. 12-15. During the summit, Yoyo and her fellow NYLC members made presentations on their impactful work and projects improving their communities.

Passionate about animal conservation, world peace, and helping the disadvantaged, Yoyo started her Roots & Shoots projects in 2020 and was selected to be on the NYLC in January 2021. Her work includes fostering animals and promoting adoptable animals on social media, creating recordings called Music for Peace, in which she advocates for peace and healing through her playing the Japanese zither (“koto”) music, a project which aims to build awareness around culture and heritage, and baking for a women’s shelter.

Most recently, awarded a grant from Roots & Shoots, Yoyo created a project called “Passion for Your Fruits,” in which she combined her love of baking and supporting disadvantaged women. Growing passion fruit vines in her backyard from last spring and harvesting the fruits, she baked batches of coconut passion fruit banana bread and donated them to a local women’s shelter that provided safety, support, and resources to women experiencing homelessness.

The other focus of her project was to grow more flowering plants to invite more bees and other pollinators to her community.

“I was excited to see more bees, different types of butterflies, and varied birds visit us every day. We are connected on this earth, humans, animals, insects, and all creatures. Especially, without the pollinators, we cannot have enough produce to survive,” says Yoyo, who harvested more than 100 passion fruits this year from two vines, thanks to the hard work of the pollinators.

“If we care about ourselves, we must care about the animals and all other creatures on earth,” says Yoyo. Meeting Goodall virtually at the end of the summit, Yoyo said, “She taught us to ‘smell the roses’ and appreciate the world, and encouraged me to follow my passions.”

Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute’s global environmental and humanitarian youth program, and their changemakers take on the issues facing the world, and join to help people, other animals, and the planet. The new group of NYLC members joins other Roots & Shoots leaders who have been a part of the council since its inception in 2003. In 2019, the representatives of the NYLC presented for Prince Harry and Dr. Jane Goodall at the Global Summit at Windsor Castle. To learn more about Yoyo, and the Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council, visit

Roots & Shoots USA National Youth Leadership Council Live Streamed presentations can be seen at — Torrey Pines High School Foundation news release