From the President | November 2021

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HGS and Its Volunteers

“Step up and volunteer” we’ve been told from the moment we entered the work environment after college, and have an industry and educational background we can “give back” to.  Actually, for most of us the message came as early as high school and was amplified during college. We were encouraged to join clubs and other fraternal organizations to test our wings within:  leadership and social and organizational skills. Not much mention of “giving back”

And although our industry-related organizations often present volunteering as a kind of exercise in virtue (and often it is a giving back concept), it is just as important to recognize it as a continuing process in personal and professional development. Volunteering is the space where one gets a chance to showcase his/her “other” skills than those professional skills needed to advance in our industry.

In the volunteering realm, we get to acquire a reputation within our Society for getting things done and following through on promises to deliver. It doesn’t hurt that we also get to list these accomplishments on our resume. 

The HGS has an extraordinary list of committees (45-50 it’s always changing), as can be seen in the beginning page of every month’s Bulletin.  There is a lot of volunteer work that needs to be done in the largest geological society of its kind in the world.  If you have technical skills you don’t get to use at work- financial/economic, data analysis, website-related etc, you are valuable to the Society’s work. If you have social skills that help us reach out to our members and outside community you are good as gold.  And it should be noted that project management is the essence of committee leadership.  Future employers value that experience. Hence, all these aspects indicate it’s beyond “giving back”.  Do it for your own benefit, too.

Check out the photos in the Bulletin and on the website of all the Society activities to get a sense of who is contributing their time to pull off all these events.  One can’t help concluding that it is a mix of senior volunteers and the younger or “nextgen” contributors. See the accompanying photos.  Frankly, though we need more of the younger volunteers to step up.  Not only are you the future of the Society and need to rise up in the volunteer corps, but often young professionals are more appropriate in certain committee work.  Examples are seen in the community outreach committees.   As we reach out to primary and secondary schools in their classrooms, science fair, etc. we note that the students seem to relate better to the younger geologists who are closer in age and stage in life. (We old geezers are boring and sometimes intimidating to younger students.)

If you head up a committee already, consider distributing the workload more to incorporate other new volunteers.  Your duties should include the training of those next in line, who will be the future leaders of our Society. When the time is appropriate, step down and let others lead the committee.

On another note,  I attended GeoGulf last week in Austin and had a great time. Nonstop Gulf-Coast geology for 2+ days in the form of oral presentations, posters, short courses, and field trips.  The Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies (consisting of 13 local societies in the gulf coast province) presents GeoGulf every year as its premier convention. The Austin Geological Society was the host society this year and its crew put on a wonderful show.  As the GeoGulf convention switches from a fall to spring time slot, there will be no event in 2022.  However HGS will be the host society in April 2023 and Charles Sternbach will be the General Chair. Linda Sternbach will be Technical Program Chair, and I will be president of GCAGS that year.  Charles is already at work generating excitement for GeoGulf 2023, as it is being promoted as linked to the 100 year anniversary of the Houston Geological Society.  The theme will be "United we Explore and Revitalize the Gulf of Mexico Super Basin" We look forward to engaging HGS members as volunteers to GeoGulf 2023 Houston as we continue to Serve the Science.

Mike Erpenbeck, President