Re-Capping a Year of Achievement

By Linda Sternbach - HGS President 2007/2008
It has been a fast-paced year for HGS with the 2007–2008 term coming to a close at the end of this month. Our wrap-up event is Guest Night, June 14, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I am looking forward to learning about the shuttle and space station during the evening’s talk by astronaut Jim Reilly.
The number of people attending HGS technical meetings was much higher than we anticipated at the beginning of the year. Should we have been surprised? There was a combination of high interest from the membership on O&G topics and talented people organizing the HGS program. Credit goes to HGS Vice President Gary Coburn for the success of our General Dinner and Downtown Luncheon programs. Gary used his knowledge of GOM deepwater and frontier plays to schedule highly informative talks that drew up to 200 attendees, particularly the September 26 luncheon on deep shelf exploration and the November 28 luncheon on ultra deepwater Jack Field. Of course Gary’s biggest achievement as VP was the Geo-Legends dinner meeting featuring T. Boone Pickens, CEO of Mesa Petroleum. Nearly 400 people crowded into the ballroom of the Westchase Hilton on January 14. This program took six months to organize and would not have possible without Gary, Bill Howell and HGS Director Bonnie Milne-Andrews planning everything. I am proud that we created an event that brought geoscientists together to socialize and take part in a program celebrating our petroleum heritage.
The greatest challenge for an HGS President is convincing members to be new volunteers on committees and to help staff events. I was asked to nominate HGS members for AAPG leadership positions, which I did, and I also tried to fill vacant committee positions inside HGS. It was very difficult to get members to volunteer to help run the Society. Because HGS doesn’t have enough
volunteers from the membership, more and more is done by the HGS officers and Board of Directors personally or by committees comprising three or fewer people. Some HGS committees are staffed by a single person. Currently we need to add volunteers to the website committee, membership growth committee, and student and academic liaison committees. 
But happily some great folks stepped forward to help HGS this year. I sincerely thank Gary Moore, Richard Howe and Paul Britt for organizing the field trip committee this year. This was the first time in a while that HGS organized special interest field trips. Richard Howe (HGS director) handled the November 10 Geological Road Rally inside Houston. The NeoGeos group ran a field trip to Austin and Central Texas over the weekend of April 5–6. If you read my February President’s column about my field trip in Greece, you know I enjoy field trips and the reasons why. It took extra perseverance to make the Central Texas field trip a success. This outing, which made 36 people very happy collecting rocks and fossils, would not have been possible without field trip leader Dr. Tom Miskelly of San Jacinto College, Tim Gibbons and Jackie Ming of the NeoGeos, and Ianthe Sarrazin. Further thanks go to PetroSkills for financial support.
Going beyond the call of duty, President-Elect Kara Bennett donated considerable time to planning the October 2008 GSA/GCAGS joint convention via conference call, email and site meetings. She also coordinated the website for the upcoming GCAGS convention and acted as an advisor for the Continuing Education Committee, helping new chairman Ken Schwartz.
The following people took over committees to replace exiting chairmen: Tarek Ghazi chairs the International Explorationists with great success, Steve Levine took over the Membership Committee and Deborah Sacrey is chairperson of “Technofest” (August 12), a half-day floor show of O&G software vendors at the Westin Galleria. She thanks Bob Merrill, Bonnie Milne-Andrews (both HGS Directors) and Robert Pledger for Technofest support. Thanks also go to Ken Nemeth for organizing the GCAGS Imperial Barrel award student contest in March.
Special Achievements during 2007–2008
The Membership Growth committee (Charles Sternbach, Paul Babcock, Greg Gregson, Steve Levine and Jeannie Mallick) created a new HGS membership benefits brochure using online web design. A mailing of the brochure to AAPG members and members of GSH resulted in 500 new members for HGS. The membership committee also signed up nearly 100 graduate and undergraduate students as associate members. HGS is now funding student memberships using money from Vendor’s Corner, so any student can join the society for free.
The HGS website (www. got a new, more modern look and expanded functionality. The new website design went live in May, thanks to the design team and programmers at Schipul, our hosting company, and the website committee of Bill Osten, Dianna Phu, Robin Heim, Gordon Shields and myself. It took the web committee over four months, starting in February 2008, to make the website makeover a reality. Part of the web function is creating the HGS membership emails. Email reminders really increase event registration because people can use the embedded links for fast registration. These timely emails are created by Kara Bennett and office webmaster Lilly Hargrave.
HGS paid significant attention to public K-12 science education this year. Bulletin editor Steve Earle published thoughtful articles on many topics and formulated the official HGS statement, endorsed by the Board of Directors, of our position in earth science education (see April 2008 Bulletin issue). Editor-Elect Michael Forlenza provided advice on what we should advocate based on his research of the topic.Basically, the position statement says, “HGS supports the teaching of science in Texas schools that is based on the scientific method. The HGS believes that earth science education must include the concepts of an old and continually evolving Earth as documented by empirical and measurable evidence.”
HGS Director Alison Henning was the coordinator for the “Maps in Schools Program.” Under her guidance, HGS volunteers delivered 200 bedrock geology maps to local K-12 schools so kids can learn and ask questions about geology. Alison also coordinated the HGS selection of Teacher of the Year. Francisca Enih of HISD received an HGS financial gift to thank her for excellence in teaching earth science to middle school and high school students.
Thanks for allowing me to serve as HGS President 2007–2008. I am ready to continue to serve the Society as Past President, and I will continue to be involved in committees as needed. Please join me as a volunteer next year in supporting our Society.

HGS Bulletin June 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
From the President