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Juneau to celebrate Geography Awareness Week

Posted: November 11, 2011 - 12:00am

In celebration of Geography Awareness Week, Nov. 13-19, Juneau will host its first GeoFest, a free family event that draws attention to geo-literacy and the importance of geography education. Geofest will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

The event will reflect the theme, “Geography: The Adventure in Your Community,” highlighting the idea that a geographic perspective can be an important way to understand communities while building geographic skills.

Katie Kennedy, the University of Alaska Geography Program’s education and outreach coordinator, will be in town from Fairbanks to facilitate Geofest, which kicks off a week long series of events across the state. She said Geofest is designed to raise public awareness of how important — and fun — geography can be. The event is geared toward school-age kids and their families, and will include geography-related hands-on activities, contests and prizes.

Through Geofest, kids are encouraged to get outside and explore their community.

“That is a lot of what it’s about — to give them a sense of place and learn more about where they live,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy will also point the way toward further exploration through “missions” organized by National Geographic and The Geography Collective, where kids can earn badges in four categories: photography, storytelling, mapping and taking action. For more on this program, visit www.missionexplore.net/.

Local entities that will be participating in Saturday’s event include the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Discovery Southeast, National Park Service, Thunder Mountain High School, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Alaska Southeast.

Geofest is sponsored by the UA Geography Program, based at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, along with the Geography Department at the University of Alaska Southeast, and is funded in part by the National Geographic Society Education Foundation.

Geography Awareness Week is an annual celebration held the third week of November across the country since 1987; former President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation into law. It was established to promote geographic education in schools and among the public, and each year centers on a different theme.

In October of this year, Gov. Sean Parnell issued a proclamation declaring Nov. 13-19 Geography Awareness Week throughout Alaska. The proclamation will be on display at the event.

For more information about GeoFest, contact Kennedy at cmkennedy@alaska.edu, or 474-6121, or visit www.geographyawarenessweek.org.

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