Geo-education: coordinators’ report (english)
Impact of the „Partnership for geo-education” project on our organizations
Most LAG – Local Action Groups, often work under community funds which sometimes can limit the cooperation and the process of sharing knowledge. The Erasmus+ program, based on education and training for adults, allows to gather institutions from all over the world and network together, adding value.
The participation of ADRIMAG in the “Partnership for Geo-education” was a very interesting project to the extent that it allowed to contact with other realities, share best practices and experiences in conducting geo-educational activities. ADRIMAG, that has a close collaboration with the Arouca Geopark, has contributed for the development of several programs and projects within the geo-education, which we had opportunity to share within this project, but it was also interesting because it has been an opportunity to grow and learn with our peers.
Institutions such as ADRIMAG and the Geoparks associated to them, must work for a common vision, the development of a territory, enhancing unique features of a territory that deserve to be recognized and deserve to have value and be spread through education. Education is a very important mean/tool to reach people, to raise awareness among the local people and outside the region, for the value and the importance of our heritage. Institutions such as LAG’s, that work for the rural development and for the enhancement of the local potential should look for the education as a great tool to foster the development.
The geo-education methodology was very important for ADRIMAG, because it allowed to show what we’ve been doing in our territory, the good examples and the bad ones, to learn from it, to contribute for the design and implementation of a methodology that comprises work that is been already undertaken in the territory, but because it helped other LAG, that are giving the first steps towards a territory enhancement, to have a picture of what can be done in terms of geo-education, according each territory specificities. We also benefit from the methodology, because we were able to make it accessible to our staff, and other professionals that collaborate with us in order to grow and become better, with more skills and knowledge.
The training activities were very important because it allowed the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills in terms of geo-education. Technicians, educators, teachers, had the opportunity to see in loco the work developed in each country and learn from it.
The methodology translated in to the native languages also allow professionals in the area of education, sciences, to use this methodology as a tool, as a guide, and learn from it, improving their skills. knowledge shouldn’t be tight, it should be reachable for the most people which can take advantage of it, professionally.
And this is the real essence of the European programs, to gather people from all over the world, thinking together, working together, strengthening bonds, growing as individuals and as institutions, with a role that can change things.
Link for the news and events within the “Partnership for Geo-education” project:
Link for the summary of the project and for the methodologies (both in English and Portuguese):
Iceland: Háskólafélag Suðurlands
Háskólafélag Suðurlands(HfSu) was a formal partner in the Erasmus+ project on Geo education in close collaboration with Katla Geopark.Now, when the project has ended, it is fair to say that the project proved to be very beneficial, especially for the Katla Geopark. HfSu had the resources to handle the project management in Iceland, and was a channel for cooperation with a number of municipalities and institutions in the area for the benefit of the project. For Katla Geopark it was an extremely important tool in both learning from others abroad but also for strenghtening internal cooperation of its main stakeholders during the visits and the development of geo education activities.
The project management of the leading partner in Poland was excellent, and in general there developed an unusually strong sense of friendship and cooperation among and between all the partners.
In conclusion it might be noted that for a partner located up in the North Atlantic it is a challenge to cope with the unit costs for the visits. Ideally, we would like to see a third category of distances when defining the unit costs for travelling in Erasmus+ projects.
Links to websites and facebook pages with information on the Geo education project:
Croatia: LAG „Barun-Trenk”
The project “Partnership for Geo-education” is the first such longterm and extensive project for our organization. Being a relatively new organization (operating since 2012), the participation itself in such a respectable partnership gave us the opportunity to develop in every sense (financially, strategically, organizationally, in terms of human resource, etc.). Because of the project we have become a recognized local development agency where local population comes for assistance and advice. The promotion of project activities brought great attention to our work.
The participating teachers and educators, who are at the same time our members, or members’ represetatives, have greatly improved their own awareness, knowledge and skills about the geo-education, and have witnessed the successful models for triggering the local development based on authentic and indigenous natural features. All our participants have seen the model how to put the neglected resources and heritage into the developmental purpose. The project has been a great inspirational journey to all.
The project has inspired us to be more involved into similar educational and exchange activities. LAG Baron Trenck has big plans for the future. In 2015., inspired with this project, we have successfully applied the new project “Trenck’s Pathways” to Erasmus + Strategic Partnerships fund. However, due to limited funding the project was put to reserve list and will wait for better times. Also, our organization has become very open to future cooperation with other countries. In our Local Developmental Strategy – LDS (the main strategic documents for the region’s development) we emphasize the importance of knowledge exchange. LDS specifically mentions future cooperation with (polish) partners in the field of development of local products. Also, at national level, we have gained sufficient confidence in order to apply as beneficiaries to different funding opportunities related to education and local development, in general.
Info about the project: http://www.lag-baruntrenk.hr/hr/erasmus/geo-edukacija.html.
Poland: Stowarzyszenie Kaczawskie
Stowarzyszenie Kaczawskie, being a coordinator of the „Partnership for geo-education” project, benefited from it organization-wise and knowledge-wise. We were not only able to built and coordinate an international partnership, growing our experience as an organization and professional experience of our staff, but also gain tools for future development.
We see the following as the most important benefits of the project:
- building a network of contacts between the organizations and institutions from Poland and other countries that will be used in the future for knowledge exchange in the field of geo-education itself but also in our everyday activities: building local partnerships, bottom-up approach to regional development, using local natural resources in education and promotion of our region;
- growing the experience and capability of our staff to design and coordinate externally funded, international projects;
- enhancing the experience of our organization in commencing and leading international partnerships;
- building trust for our activities in the region, thanks to the support of our educational actions with funding from European Comission, who is being recognized as a respected, important institution;
- growing interest for our actions and goals nation-wise; many other geo-education institutions and organizations have recognized us for our actions in the subject thanks to the project and we have already taken part in several conferences and national meetings regarding this topic
- building sense of trust, integrity and partnership within our team,
- growing our cultural sensibility,
- gaining knowledge, know-how and drawing inspiration from examples shown in other countries about dealing with the subject matters that are in our everyday concern: leading geo-educational programs for different audiences, protecting and promoting our geological heritage and making it available for the general public for educational purposes,
Apart from that, we were all able to grow profesionally and personally thanks to challenges we had to face in overcoming our differences and possible initial doubts. It is always difficult to step out of the comfort zone and we have seen project participants both from our and partner organizations overcoming dificulties in communication and starting to learn from each other, gaining professional contacts and friendships.
General observations after the completion of the project
As a coordinating organization we would also like to underline the following observations about the project impacts:
- on international and national levels
- The project gained international interest in the European and Global Geoparks Network as expressed during the EGN/GGN meetings that representatives of the Partners took part in and in new requests for contact and cooperation coming from various geoparks around Europe.
- The established partnership will be continues on different topics and levels, including the LEADER initiative partnership projects dedicated to local crafsmanship and cultural heritage.
- Locally in partner countries, other institutions and organizations have contacted the partners in order to share project results and insights to building and maintaining such and international partnership, sometimes seeking advice/guidance in starting their own partnership projects in the topic of geo-education.
- on the level of the Project partnership
- The project mobilities and multiplier events included the participation of as many as 150 people, having an important impact of partner organization members, staff and colaboratos.
- The evaluation forms that have been filled out by all project participants have brought the following remarks:
- There is still a need of formal and informal international meetings between the geo-education institutions and other local stakeholders in order to increase the importance of geo-education of adults in the regions of significant geological heritage
- Some of the activities during training events might have been organized better, especially regarding the relation between methods used and time spent.