Over the years Dr. JANE Goodall has maintained contact with many of the students in Marc’s class. on a number of occasions she has written them personal letters and postcards, recognizing their talent and thanking them for their magnificent and inspirational artwork.
For 20 years Marc Bekoff has been teaching a class at the Boulder County Jail that centers on animal behavior, conservation, and humane education. It is part of Jane Goodall's global Roots & Shoots program. Marc’s experience teaching at the jail had positive effects on the way he taught at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The student’s enthusiasm and curiosity helped him to change some of the preconceived notions he had surrounding inmates. He came to realize that the students really wanted to learn and become a contributing member of society. Marc became dedicated to helping to “de-other” the students.
The class and the students' artwork give hope, and in their drawings, sculptures, and writing, they express hope and trust. The work they do provides a forum for deep and informative discussions about other animals, nature, their connection to the outer world, and themselves. They also have written many beautifully composed essays and poems that express close connections with other nature.
Many of the students find solace when they talk about animals and think about being outdoors. This class helps them to learn to express themselves freely, it “softens” them, and helps them find compassion for others. One student was so inspired by the class, he named his son after Marc. Another student who was always reading “everything about dogs” became a dog trainer. One other student founded a group that helped other former students integrate back into society.