Torrey Pines student, animal activist speaks at ceremony honoring Jane Goodall

Yoyo Watanabe, center, on stage at the Templeton Prize Celebration Ceremony for Jane Goodall.
(Yoshino Watanabe)

Torrey Pines High School junior Yoshino (Yoyo) Watanabe was one of three young changemakers invited to talk at world-renowned conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall’s Templeton Prize Celebration Ceremony in Los Angeles on Sept. 25. Yoyo represented the US Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council of The Jane Goodall Institute, a global environmental and humanitarian youth program, and shared about her impactful work to help animals and her community.

At the ceremony, Goodall received the 2021 Templeton Prize, one of the world’s largest annual individual awards valued at over $1.5 million. Goodall joined past laureates Mother Teresa and Dalai Lama.

Yoyo Watanabe
(Yoshino Watanabe)

Yoyo started her Roots & Shoots projects in 2020 and was selected to be on the National Youth Leadership Council in January 2021. Her work includes fostering animals, promoting adoptable animals on social media, advocating for peace and healing through her playing the Japanese zither (“koto”), and baking and hosting supplies drives for a women’s shelter.

At the ceremony, Yoyo spoke about how she came to love animals as she grew up with “many creatures at home” and her volunteer projects at Helen Woodward Animal Center. Yoyo has volunteered in the foster department and ran a supplies drive for the animals with her friend Adelaide Kessler over the summer.

“I learned to collaborate with others and that helping the community can take so many different shapes,” Yoyo said in her speech.

In her other community service efforts, Yoyo created a project called “Passion for Your Fruits,” in which she combined her love of baking with passion fruits and supporting disadvantaged women by donating bakery goods. Additionally, to bring the joy of Christmas to the women, she collected and donated more than 100 handbags and backpacks to the women’s shelter last winter.

As she is now at the age eligible to handle animals, Yoyo is very excited to meet and take care of animals at Helen Woodward.

Yoyo said she sees humans and animals as equal and she would like to celebrate all things on earth that coexist. She said she hopes that everyone and every creature on this planet will live together “without the differences that divide us, but rather celebrate the differences that eventually unite us.”

To learn more about Yoyo and the Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council, visit