Engaging Local Communities to Increase Geopark Awareness
On December 12th, the Itoigawa Global Geopark presented the Itoigawa Global Geopark Revalidation Commemorative Forum 2013 in order to mark Itoigawa Global Geopark’s first successful revalidation, received in September at the Asia Pacific Geoparks Network Conference in Jeju, South Korea.
The forum, presented with the cooperation of the Itoigawa City Board of Education and the Ministry of the Environment Nagano Nature Conservation Office, had a theme of “Geo Women’s Worldwide Talk – Enjoying Geoparks and Natural Parks.” Several hundred local community members attended the event.
Children and parents alike enjoy Geo-themed arts and crafts
The Gakken Co., Ltd, a publishing company which specializes in educational toys and materials, supported the event by providing a number of arts and crafts projects for children and parents to enjoy. Visitors could create their own paints from rocks, including malachite and azurite. They also used different sizes and colors of sand to make geological strata-themed pendants. While Gakken provided a great deal of support in the planning of these activities, additional thanks are needed to the Volunteer Clubs of local Itoigawa and Hakurei Senior High Schools. The high school students were a great help in operating the arts and crafts activities.
Children observe sand collected from geoparks around Japan and the world
The community was also invited to try Itoigawa’s Geo School Lunch, a Geopark-sponsored school lunch program that focuses on using locally-sourced ingredients in healthy, traditionally-inspired meals. The menu prepared for the event, which won the Mayor’s Award in the Itoigawa Geo Breakfast Competition, featured rice mixed with wakame seaweed and eggs, steamed salmon, konbu seaweed and steamed vegetables, and miso soup with winter melon and corn. Almost all of the ingredients were locally sourced, and the menu was designed with a breakfast theme, showing an easy, healthy, and delicious way to enjoy breakfast using Itoigawa produce.
Geo School Lunch is a hit with children and parents alike
The forum culminated in a panel discussion in which 4 guest panelists, all women, talked about how they like to enjoy Japan’s geoparks and nature parks. Among the panelists were a woman from the Ministry of the Environment, a woman from Gakken Publishing, a New Zealander woman who works for the Oki Islands Global Geopark, and a woman from Itoigawa Global Geopark. Community members enjoyed listening to the women share their experiences in geoparks.
The Geo Women Panel Discussion
Several hundred local community members attended the event. Through events like this we hope to improve awareness of not only Itoigawa Global Geopark, but also geoparks throughout Japan and the world. By using a Geo Women theme, we also hope to introduce more women to everything the geoparks have to offer.