Cherry Hill teen's lifelong chimpanzee philanthropy

Cherry Hill East's Amanda Ketterer, with parents Robert and Lisa, and a photo of her with the primatologist.
Cherry Hill East's Amanda Ketterer, with parents Robert and Lisa, and a photo of her with the primatologist. (KELSEY ANNE DUBINSKY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 18, 2013

An elementary-school library book that Jane Goodall wrote about chimpanzees inspired Amanda Ketterer to start raising money for the renowned author and anthropologist.

So the Cherry Hill student set up a lemonade stand in the front yard of her home and took in $5.50 from her parents, the sole customers.

That was in 2006. Amanda is now 15 and has raised nearly $15,000 to support the work of the Jane Goodall Institute, which seeks to preserve habitats, protect the environment, and educate young people through worldwide research, education, and advocacy.

Amanda was introduced to the woman she calls "my hero" in 2007 and has met with her several times since, most recently in September, when she also addressed the audience at Goodall's New York speaking appearance. Amanda also has been selected as one of the institute's "National Youth Leaders."

The Cherry Hill East sophomore and the celebrity primatologist are on a first-name basis.

"Jane is an incredible woman," Amanda says. "I hope I'm like her one day."

Goodall, 79, describes her young admirer and benefactor as "an incredible example for other young people to follow."

In a statement, the intrepid researcher - made famous by National Geographic and other magazines while championing Tanzanian chimpanzees in the 1960s - also praises Amanda's "passion and dedication."

Closer to home, "I'm really proud of her," says Amanda's best friend, Angelica Catrambone, 15. "She is very determined and good-hearted. She's very passionate about what she does."

I meet Amanda in the living room of the Marlkress Road home she shares with her father, Rob, 51, a trained chef, and mother Lisa, 48, a registered nurse. Her older sister, Laura, 18, is a Montclair State University freshman.

"I want to help the world and the people in it, and this is my way of doing that right now," says Amanda, whose earnest idealism I find refreshing.

"I want to do international relations and global studies in college and, after that, join the Peace Corps. My dream is to work at the U.N. one day."

Amanda explains that after that first fund-raiser "was sort of a bust," she labeled her stand "Lemonade for Chimpaide" and set up shop at the Charleston Swim Club. She expanded her food and beverage offerings before shifting location to the township's annual Earth Festival, which drew about 5,000 people this year.

"Amanda is fabulous," says Brenda Jorett, a board member of Sustainable Cherry Hill, which, along with the township, sponsors the event at the Croft Farm Arts Center. "She brings in her family and friends to put out delicious, natural food. They work together for a great cause."

Amanda's animal-related philanthropy echoes that done by her late grandfather, the Rev. Roy R. Schmid, who after World War II was active in what's now called Heifer International. The nonprofit organization provides livestock to families in the developing world.

"I grew up listening to his stories," Amanda says, adding that after she started raising money for Goodall, "my grandfather was one of my biggest fans."

Listening to the Ketterers, for whom their youngest daughter's devotion really does seem to be a family affair, I find myself becoming a fan as well.

So what is it about chimpanzees?

"They're so close to being humans, and that [adds] another emotion when you are helping them," Amanda says.

She's pleased that her contributions are earmarked for the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo. It's home to 160 of the animals, including orphans in need of constant care.

As Amanda told the New York gathering: "How could I ever have imagined that my little lemonade stand would not only have allowed me to give, but to also receive?"

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