Our Volunteers: The Fuel that Keeps the HGS Running
The HGS depends on volunteers to help the Society serve our membership, the larger geological community and even citizens within the Houston area. Without them freely donating their time and energy, the HGS would not be able to hold the monthly technical meetings, the boutique conferences and put together our social networking events. Participating in the HGS by volunteering helps all parties: The Society and the individuals. Every June we honor a subset of these volunteers but all of them deserve our thanks and praise.
We are fortunate to have the financial ability for a small staff and a nice office on the west side of Houston. Andrea Peoples and Jacky Jordan, our paid office staff, work hard to keep the HGS website functioning and up to date, our conferences organized and our events well-advertised while using the Society’s dollars wisely. They are also in charge of the making sure all of our vendors are paid and that our membership database is up to date. They do a lot…but they cannot do everything and that is where our HGS volunteers step in to fill in the gaps.
Some of the volunteer jobs are not very glamorous but are vital. The activities require people to attend or chair organizational meetings, edit contributing author’s prose, pick up supplies and make sure that critical items like getting course notes printed and transportation for field trips are done in a timely manner. Someone has to bring the name tags, set up the video equipment and find speakers! All these are done by people who don’t get paid and donate their finite free time. Because our members are willing to help, we host the International Explorationists Group, the North American Group, the E&E Group, the General Lunch meeting, the General Dinner Meeting, Guest Night, the Mud Rocks Conference, the Geomechanics Conference, the Africa Conference, get the Bulletin published and run the Shrimp Peel, Tennis Tournament, Golf Tournament, and Skeet Shoot.
Volunteering is a win-win situation for all parties involved. It helps the HGS provide quality training, technical presentations and social networking events in a cost-effective manner while generating some income to cover our operating overhead and keeping the event costs within the budget of most of our members. It helps the volunteer by introducing them to other geoscientists in the greater geologic community of Houston. This can prove beneficial when looking for employment, finding people that can fill needs at your company and help people new to the Houston area develop new friends with similar interests. Large-scale events take long lead times. The 2018 Africa Conference and the 2019 Gulf Basin Geo sponsored by GCAGS are looming on the horizon and offer many ways to get involved.
Every year the HGS honors a subset of our volunteers. The HGS tries to make sure that eventually everyone that is contributing on a regular basis is recognized for their contributions. The HGS’s highest award is the Gerald Cooley Award. This award is named for Gerald Cooley who was a tireless HGS volunteer and it is not regularly given out by the HGS. It is reserved for individuals that have dramatically impacted the HGS through their volunteer efforts. This year’s recipient is Frank Walles. The next highest award presented by the HGS is Honorary Membership which will go to Martin Cassidy who has been a contributing volunteer on all levels of the society since his return to Houston nearly 30 years ago. Following these awards are the HGS Distinguished Service Awards which will be presented to three very deserving HGS members: Charles Revilla, Neal Immega and Weixin (Wayne) Xu. These HGS members have been dedicated volunteers for many years and in many ways. The Chairman’s Award is an award given out by the committee chairman to committee volunteers that have done exceptional volunteer work with in their committee. There are four members (Bill Dickson, John Moran, Barbara Hill and Cheryl Desforges) that will be receiving the Chairman’s Award. The HGS President’s Award is for HGS members that have made large volunteer contributions over the current fiscal year. The four recipients of the 2017 President’s Award are Phil Towle, Tami Shannon, L Taras Bryndzia and John Breyer. Each of these members has devoted hours of their time and energy to either a major HGS Conferences or to structural changes that were way above what they originally volunteered to do for the HGS. The HGS likes to recognize outstanding new volunteers with the Rising Star Award. The four members receiving the Rising Star Award are Ryan Yarrington, Stephen Adeniran, Nkechi Odumodu and Brad Hammil. Past Rising Star recipients have gone on to be officers in the HGS and have had major roles within the AAPG.
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the HGS volunteers we are honoring in 2017 and all of the other extremely dedicated HGS helpers that we have not recognized with an award this year. Thank you for your dedicated service to the HGS. You have set an example for others through your efforts. I sincerely believe that your efforts will help you develop and grow in your career as a geoscientist. Lastly, I want to thank ALL of our members for the opportunity to be your leader during the past year. It has been an honor. I am confident that the HGS will continue to evolve with incoming President John Adamick at the helm.