Letter from the President - September 2012

HGS President's Column - September 2012  by Martin Cassidy

Sail On!

Welcome back from the summer break! I hope you are all ready for a season of activities of all sorts in the Houston Geological Society. I think of us as a large ship that sails through a troubled sea of business and the world’s expectations. We are a large group, more than 3925 members strong and growing. A giant cruise ship could hardly accommodate us. Our ship has only two permanent staff and otherwise is operated entirely by our members, volunteers all!

I am pleased and honored to serve as your Captain – that is President- for one year, and am grateful to have dedicated officers and committees to help guide our vessel and perform all sorts of services. No sudden turns are expected, steady as she goes. Changes that occur will be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

This year we have a new and larger HGS office, on the same floor of the same building.. We have a new web page that should be much easier to use. Try a test drive at http:www.hgs.org. We are now in separate office space from the Geophysical Society of Houston. HGS has two new permanent staff are Nina Hoeny, Office Director, and Kathy Sanvido, -Webmaster. Kathy is dedicated to making the smooth operation of the HGS website and to helping members use the web pages to sign up for meetings, etc.

Our mission in the HGS is “To provide earth science enrichment through technical education, networking opportunities, and community service.” We are certainly doing all that, and more. Our success is the direct result of your participation in our events and your service on committees that organize technical education, networking events, and provide community service.

A new effort in community service has gained ground. Jennifer Burton, chairman of the new  educational Outreach committee has helped inaugurate the Owen Hopkins Bones in Schools Program. The HGS has purchased from the Corpus Christi Geological Society, three truckloads of Pleistocene fossils, which include bones and teeth of Mastodons, Mammoths, camels and others animals. At the outset, these are to be used in an earth science program for 5th graders. The bones are for the students to handle as they learn about the Pleistocene history of the Gulf Coast region. A lesson plan is available with each of the four kits of bones and displays that volunteers carry to schools in the Houston area. Volunteers will be trained in the hour-long presentations that are part of school curriculum. I’ve seen children examine the five-inch long Mastodon teeth and parts of tusks of the ancient elephants. The specimens really get their attention and engage them in learning. More volunteers will be needed as the program spreads earth science education and the name of the HGS more widely in the community.

Another HGS committee whose membership has experienced rapid growth is the NeoGeos, which serves and employs young explorationists. NeoGeos hosts events and meetings of particular interest to recent graduates. Companies seem to be making up for lost time. Their surge in hiring is HGS’ gain. The NeoGeos have initiated Facebook and Twitter sites as they lead us into the era of social media.

These two programs are not the only opportunity to get involved with your fellow members! We have a smorgasbord of 50 different HGS committees refer to page 3 of this bulletin). Each committee is distinct and responsible for its own activities and mission. Last year’s president, Steve Earle, urged ”each and every one find an area of passion and get involved”. Through such activities you will come to know fellow geoscientists outside your companies. Many companies may seem to provide comfortable societies in which you know your fellow workers. It is easy to stay within the company. However, the new corporate model does say you are responsible for your personal development. You need to know the wider world and here we have both social and educational events. Fun social events include Guest night, the Shrimp Peel, sporting events and the Christmas Ho Ho Down.

We know how rapidly knowledge of geology and geophysics expands. Education is a major  mission of our society. Three major HGS conferences are scheduled: Technofest in the spring, “Mudstone “conference in February and The Africa Conference 11/12 September, just after you receive his bulletin. New major discoveries of oil and gas surround Africa and are models of new plays elsewhere. There is room and still time to sign up for this great program.

Education offerings also include monthly General Meeting luncheons at the Petroleum Club; evening meetings of the the General Dinner, International Explorationists, and North American groups at the Westchase Hilton; the Northsiders luncheons at the Crown Plaza Greenspoint; and the Environmental & Engineering Geology evening meeting at the Black Labrador Pub. The social hour of the meetings is a major opportunity to greet old friends and meet new people. The various meeting all contain a wide variety of topics and deserve careful consideration. The first international meeting of the year, for example, on the evening of 10 September at the Westin Houston Memorial City Hotel, is about microbialite limestones. The topic may seem obscure until one learns that reservoirs of such limestones offshore Brazil and also Angola are capable of flowing thousands of barrels of oil per day. That evening talk will be a great start for the Africa Conference the following two days.

I was asked what the theme of my short one-year tenure as President of our organization would be. I plan to emphasize education of our members and school children throughout Houston, service to the Houston Geological Society, and above all participation in the Society that serves us.

Climb aboard the ship and sail with your fellow explorationists through the year in a time of change and excitement.


HGS President
Thursday, September 6, 2012
From the President