March 2008 President's Letter

March Momentum: HGS and Affiliated Societies Support Science Education and Young Geoscientists
by Linda Sternbach
This month's column is to reassure all HGS members that "we care" about young people entering science as a career! You may not have thought about this, but the HGS directs significant funds and volunteer efforts to support science education for K-12 students to college-level undergraduate and grad students. This month has "March Momentum," because this is the time of year the HGS awards scholarships and recognizes student achievers. HGS has been supporting science education and encouraging students to explore geosciences for over 85 years, as part of its 1923 charter.
What HGS Does for Elementary, Junior and Senior High Students
HGS is a patron-level sponsor of the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston (SEFH). We support this event by donating money (we gave $1250 this year) and providing volunteer judges. The SEFH is part of the Engineering, Science and Technology Council of Houston (ECH), a multi-society organization. HGS also sponsors two summer internships at the Museum of Natural Science each year. This year the Science Fair is March 13-15, at the George R. Brown Convention Center, where south-eastern Texas students in Junior, 9th Grade and Senior divisions will present their science research projects. HGS members who want to be judges of the kids’ science projects should contact the HGS liaison, Claudia Ludwig ( or Science Fair Executive Director Larry Spears (, 713-221-8015).
That's not all HGS is doing to encourage secondary students to learn about geology. HGS is distributing a map of the bedrock geology of the United States to schools in Houston. The Maps in Schools program involves giving local schools a copy of the USGS "Tapestry of Time and Terrain" color map. See the map at The goal is to place a map of the geology of the surface of United States in the lobbies, foyers and cafeterias of secondary schools, where students can see it daily and become interested in geology. The program originated with Owen Hopkins of SueMaur Exploration, past-president of the Corpus Christi Geological Society, and is supported by the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies.
Under the coordination of HGS Director Alison Henning, HGS ordered 300 "Tapestry of Time and Terrain" maps from the USGS and has already distributed many of them to local schools. This is such an effective outreach program that several local geo-societies are joining HGS in the effort. SIPES members Jeff Lund (Access Energy, also past HGS president) and Phil Martin (New Century) are involved, and Lisa Buckner (Amerada Hess) is representing the Geophysical Society of Houston. Deborah Straughan, a new HGS member and geologist at BP, and teacher Janie Schulke are on the HGS committee to coordinate the presentations to local schools. If you want to get a lot of praise, why don't you give a geology map to your local school? Email Alison Henning at or Deborah Straughan at for instructions.
What HGS Does for College Geology Students
The HGS Undergraduate Scholarship Fund awarded funds to six students this year. You may have met them at last month's February general dinner meeting. Through donations, the Undergraduate Scholarship Fund has grown to $178,700, thanks to Golf Tournament sponsors A2D and TGS-Nopec. The awardees’ colleges are Rice University, Stephen F. Austin University, Sam Houston State, University of Houston and Texas A&M. John Adamick ( chairs the Undergraduate Scholarship Fund.
Graduate students can apply for the HGS-sponsored W.L. Calvert Scholarship Fund. HGS supports five graduate students this year using the Calvert Fund. It is chaired by Carl Norman ( and the treasurer is Dick Bishop. This year the Calvert Fund awarded $16,000 in total scholarship money, so each graduate student is getting $3200 to use in his or her thesis or field work.
The newest HGS initiative is free HGS student membership this year for any undergrad or graduate student at local Houston or Texas schools. After a fall campaign at the University of Houston and student fairs, HGS expanded student membership to nearly 100. Vendor Corner donations at technical meetings support the cost of the student memberships. Thanks to Charles Sternbach and Paul Babcock for this initiative.
What HGS Does for Young Career Professionals
The HGS NeoGeo program, which started in 2000, is expanding to include members of the Geophysical Society of Houston at the request of the organizers of the NeoGeo group. The expansion of the NeoGeos to include members of other geo-societies will grow the membership list and email outreach, and is supported by the HGS and endorsed by GSH President George Marion. The NeoGeos organize social events such as Thursday happy hours at bars and restaurants, BBQ picnics and field trips. The next NeoGeo field trip is April 5-6 to Central Texas. Contact Tim Gibbons, NeoGeo chairman, for more information at The online bulletin board for the NeoGeos is at and the email is This message board recently got a posting from a geologist in Europe asking for information on the NeoGeos in Houston, so the benefits of this effort potentially could go worldwide.
March and April are months in which the HGS renews itself by supporting young people through our science program outreach and also by getting new people into HGS leadership. Next month's April Bulletin will feature the HGS candidates for officer positions and the HGS Board for 2008-2009. Just like the spring season here in Texas, our Society is growing and renewing.

Linda Sternbach
Friday, February 29, 2008
From the President