HGS President's Column - June 2013 by Martin Cassidy
Looking Back and Looking Forward
This is the last of my pages from the president and I shall miss the opportunity to communicate with the members. We are a large active organization and there are stories within stories. I have been honored to serve as your president and to work with a really dedicated Board of Directors. It has been a pleasure to meet members at the many meetings that I have attended. Service as president gives one an interesting overlook of HGS’ large and complex organization. I have seen our member volunteers overcome obstacles and achieve major goals.
Looking back we can take particular satisfaction in success of four major conferences. First, there was the HGS-PESGB African Conference in September which drew 300+ people from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Africa. The new large venue was much appreciated. There was room for South African native dancers to dance through the area of technical booths. Second, was Technofest in November which was held despite a fierce rain storm. Third, was HGS Legends’ Night in January that cleared a profit of over $17,000. Many corporate and individual donors made this result possible. The amount was matched from HGS general funds and the total divided equally between the graduate and undergraduate scholarship funds and funded scholarships for next year. Fourth, there was the remarkable Mudrocks Conference in February with 515 attendees. Displayed cores of unconventional oil and gas reservoirs were a particular attraction.
All that was in addition to HGS General luncheon and dinner meetings, HGS International and North American dinner meetings, dinner meetings of the HGS Environmental and Engineering group, and not least, the HGS Northsiders’ luncheon meetings.
More than 350 members attend technical meetings each month. Attendance is on the rise as we use social media to spread the word about our programs. Our meetings generally attract walk-ups, some of whom later become members. This contributes to addition of new members at the rate of 10 to 50 a month. In addition, our NeosGeos, new employees of companies and graduates looking for jobs, now number more than 550 people on their distribution list.
The HGS continuing education program of one-day courses continues to offer important training; outreach that includes the Houston Science Fair has been supported.
All of these meetings and activities are organized by dedicated committee chairmen and their committee members, that is, volunteers. If I were to list all of them this president’s page would be full and I fear that I would miss someone! Thus I shout out a general THANK YOU to all who worked in any of our committees.
Now to look forward:
The leadership of committee chairmen is remarkable. HGS is always in need of more leaders, and leaders are often developed from the ranks of committee members.
Please look at page three (3) of the HGS Bulletin and note all of the activities for which there are committees. I became involved early in the HGS International committee by simply asking if I could help pick programs for the next year. We sat around one evening in the HGS office and discussed what international plays and areas were hot. Different members had various exposures and opinions. It was a learning experience. Next we had to find experts to make presentations for us. In each step, one sees what the chairman must consider.
What are the advantages of participation? To list a few: exposure to new data you never considered, experience leading a committee, meeting new people, conversations with experts outside your company, consideration given to opinions counter to popular theories, such as Bob Shoup’s talk about climate change, and finally, the food service!.
Currently, we have new advantages. Our new, large multi-room office is now complete. We have three permanent employees to help us: Nina Hoeny, our Office Director, Jill Trimble, Administrative Assistant, and Troy Fearnow, our Webmaster. The revamped HGS website is now up and running. And our membership has grown again to nearly 4400 members!
And so to the future! We have two more special events this fiscal year: President’s Night at which we take time to honor volunteers and supporters, and the large, general event open to one and all, Guest Night. See articles to preview each in this issue.
Guest Night is a great opportunity to enjoy an evening with the family in a fascinating location, the new Paleontology Hall of the Houston Museum of Natural Science which includes a flying giant dinosaur from West Texas. The Guest Night speaker is an expert from NASA who navigates the new rover Curiosity and will tell us about its new findings on Mars.
Now to think even further ahead, to next Fall, HGS will introduce a new Applied Geoscience Conference, “Interdisciplinary Micro to Macro Scale Geomechanics”, to be held November 4th and 5th, 2013. Corporate sponsors are desired. Please sign up to attend at your first opportunity.
Still further ahead, but critical to the HGS, is the AAPG Annual Meeting to be held in Houston next spring. Thousands of guests will arrive. A couple of hundred HGS volunteers will be needed in support of the giant meeting. The Chairman is Steve Brachman, and committees are being assembled even now. We hope you are set to prepare abstracts, papers, and posters; to get them approved by your companies; and submit them when the AAPG announces the opportunity.
In summary, we look back at success, but we look forward to more activity and responsibility. The HGS needs to continue to grow and volunteers are needed in even greater numbers to carry forward not only the technical programs, but the outreach programs to students and the community at large.
Come, volunteer to join committees to carry forward the Houston Geological Society, and I shall join you.