From the President - November 2012

HGS President's Column - November 2012  by Martin Cassidy


I hope that this morning when you arose you looked forward to the day with enthusiasm and passion. The passion referred to is the desire to apply your science training and experience to the treasure hunt that is the discovery, development, and production of oil and gas. You are blessed if you have a burning curiosity about the earth and science in general, for you will never be bored and your work will be a pleasure most of the time. Once you have this passion to learn more and to be expert in your craft, you wonder why in the general public many are not interested, and why there are so few students who want to go into science. Many of us want to share our passion for this work and knowledge, and it especially important to share it with the children of our community. Children start life eager to learn about the world around them. They ask many questions and have a sense of wonder. That curiosity and wonder may fade away if not nourished. We can nourish them.

If introduced at an early age, earth sciences can feed that curiosity about the whole world. Many of us can remember an incident or area that brought us into earth science, and it does not have to be the wilderness or the Grand Canyon. It can be in an urban setting. As a child in New York City, I remember that I was introduced to a polished glacial surface in Central Park at the center of Manhattan. As I ran my hand along the smooth grooved surface of the Manhattan Schist, I wondered about the 1000 feet of ice that must have covered the site. Visits to the American Museum of Natural History further fueled my interest.

Part of the mission of the Houston Geological Society is “to provide earth science enrichment through technical education, network opportunities, and community service.” We have such opportunities for community service, especially for the education of young people, through several of our HGS committees.

One such opportunity that I have mentioned before is the Owen Hopkins Bones in Schools Program, which uses the donated fossil bones of Pleistocene fauna. This program is handled by the Education Outreach Committee. Volunteers are provided training and then can sign out kits of bones and instructional materials to teach a science module to fifth and sixth graders in local schools. For more details, please go to under Latest News on Bones in Schools to read an item written by Jennifer Burton. Work with that program is a fun and rewarding teaching experience — a delight to see children enjoy the examination of mammoth teeth and tusks. A number of volunteers are needed for this new program. The same committee staffs the Maps in Schools program, which places geologic maps of the United States in school hallways. Please contact HGS to sign up.

Bones in Schools is only one of our programs that serve children; there are five others. Check page 3 of this Bulletin for the committee chairpersons to contact. These committees have the following responsibilities:

  • Earth Science Week, which includes a contest of art, essays, and photography; museum visits; and a trip to an offshore rig in Galveston. This event occurs each October, and is designed for the whole family. Contact Martha McRae, the HGS representative, as she will need volunteers for next year’s planned events.

  • The Engineering Council of Houston, of which the HGS is a part, and to which our representative is Claudia Ludwig, sponsors an annual science fair that involves judging projects and an awards dinner.

  • Field trips are a great way to introduce young people to geology! The possible trip to High Island, to be led by Anton Wroblewski could be a very special family activity.

  • Guest Night is another annual event suitable for the whole family. In recent years it has been held at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) and has featured interesting speakers from all areas of geological endeavor.

  • The Houston Museum of Natural Science is a great learning center for “kids” of all ages. Inda Immega is our representative involved in HMNS’ docent program and with their student volunteers. Several of our members have taken docent training and now guide people through the Museum; this is a very worthwhile, low-key teaching opportunity.

We have many ways to give back to our community. Society needs scientifically literate citizens, and HGS can help provide and develop them. This work takes concerted organization and dedication plus the skills and experience of many of our members. You are welcome to join us and to share the passion!


Martin Cassidy
Thursday, November 1, 2012
From the President