September 2007 President's Letter

The Power of HGS Membership
by Linda Sternbach
I am very pleased to be the new HGS President for 2007-2008. I joined HGS as an Active Member in 1985, 22 years ago, when I was a new hire geologist at ARCO Oil and Gas. I remember when HGS Presidents Dan Smith and Clint Moore were hosting the dinner meetings at the Westin Oaks Galleria. Since then I have been elected to the HGS Board as Bulletin Editor (1997-98), Vice President (2005-2006) and President-Elect (last year). During the same 22 years I have changed oil and gas companies over 7 times, always for companies based in Houston. There are two constants in my work life: I know the ups and downs of being a working petroleum geoscientist, and I know that joining the HGS was the best career investment I ever made. The HGS offers both industry education and career growth through interaction with other geoscientists from all backgrounds and companies. You can find a lot of friends through HGS!
This Year’s Goals: Increased Membership
and Improved Website

The HGS Board and committees are going to focus in the upcoming year on several goals.
1. We want to add 1000 new members to bring the Society from its current 3600 member level to 4600 active and associate members.
2. The HGS will look at ways to improve the benefits it offers to members, including offering strong technical program at meetings, new courses and fun social events.
3. The HGS website will get some improvements this year to better communicate with members through the front page, links and our weekly emails. The HGS website currently supports online event registration, online voting and online dues renewal.
4. The HGS will be doing its best to support sister societies such as GCAGS, AAPG and Geophysical Society of Houston (GSH). HGS will be getting aligned with the Geological Society of America, especially because the GSA is going to have a huge annual convention in Houston in October 2008 and HGS is helping host that convention thanks to the efforts of HGS Past Presidents Dave Rensink and Steve Brachman.
Active New Membership Program
Get ready for the HGS to change from a passive membership stance and start actively advertising HGS membership benefits out into the geoscience community! We are working on creating brochure material and will be contacting potential members via the website and regular mail. Our new brochure has a new theme: "HGS: A Local Society with a Global View." We encourage existing members to show others the new HGS online application under "JOIN HGS" on the webpage. It’s all digital, including dues payment.

Even though the oil and gas and environmental businesses are going strong, the HGS has experienced a decline in membership since we had 4100 members in 2002. Our membership committee has evaluated this problem and concluded it has to do with once active members who don’t renew at dues time, either because they decide not to or HGS failed to contact them, and not connecting effectively to potential new geoscientist members, including petroleum geologists and geophysicists and environmental geologists.
Future improvement comes down to providing member satisfaction so current members will renew and making an effective case for joining HGS. Some geologists like being visitors to HGS events without joining the Society because they erroneously think their membership is not important and that HGS will continue to plan technical talks and events regardless of how many members belong. The minimum involvement HGS membership requires is $24/year dues and registration in our database. As we access our database, we get direction for future programs by knowing who HGS members are, what they do and where they like to meet. Then the Society can deliver information and benefits back to the member via email event notices and planned programs.
The membership committee has met on numerous occasions over some cold beers and ruminated on the strengths of being an active HGS member. I would like to mention and thank Jeannie Mallick, Greg Gregson, Jennifer Burton, Paul Babcock and Charles Sternbach for their insights on HGS membership trends. Jeannie and Charles are sincere in their opinion that HGS offers real values in long-term networking and social contacts to members. The consensus though is that HGS delivers value in the Bulletin (60-70 pages of information and articles in color delivered each month), website. email events, notices, online job hotline page, online directory and social events such as Guest Night and sporting events. HGS members also get discounts to technical meetings and fine arts group trips.
Thanks to Key People
This year the HGS Board of Directors has some new and talented people who will be setting up important programs. Gary Coburn of Murphy Oil in Houston is our new Vice President. His HGS duties include getting speakers for the Monday General Dinner and Wednesday Downtown Luncheon talks each month and overseeing the special interest group meetings. The HGS is adding two new Board Directors, Alison Henning and Richard Howe. Allison and Richard have been active on HGS Earth Science committees. Both of them are going to help improve HGS outreach to geoscience students and into the geoscience community. Two HGS Directors are continuing from last year: Bob Merrill and Bonnie Milne-Andrews. Our Board appreciates their advice and perspective on HGS business and direction.

I am really glad to be able to work with two Board members who I first met 20 years ago in my early oil business career. John Jordan (Treasurer) and Steve Earle (Bulletin Editor) worked in the same ARCO Oil and Gas offshore lease sale group as I did. We all had offices on the same second floor of the old ARCO office on Memorial Drive and Eldridge. Both John and Steve are very dedicated to serving the HGS and have ideas for improvement of their committees. There are many other important committee chairs who help make HGS the strong organization it is and I wish there was space to recognize them all, but for now I’d like to recognize two: Bill Osten (ConocoPhillips) as our volunteer website manager and Ken Nemeth (Schlumberger) as past Treasurer and Office Committee Chairman.
The Hidden Payback: Membership Lifts Everybody
The real value of joining HGS is that a rising membership lifts the Society in terms of both revenue and in people-power available to run volunteer programs that many members and nonmembers enjoy. The volunteer geologists who organize HGS often only hold office one or two years. HGS needs people in the pipeline (so to speak) every year to maintain groups such as the International Explorationists, North American Explorationists, Northsiders Group, Environmental and Engineering Geologists and other committees. I am optimistic in what HGS can achieve in membership growth and programs in the coming year.


Linda Sternbach
Friday, September 7, 2007
From the President