From the President- September 2019
Never Stop Exploring
I’d like to start off the year expressing my gratitude for having been elected HGS President for 2019-2020. It’s a real honor, and I hope to finish the fiscal year with HGS being in a better position in all regards. And I want to express my appreciation for their service to all the current Executive Board officers and directors, committee chairs/members, and our stellar HGS office staff (Andi Peoples, Office Director, and Jacky Jordan, Office Administrator and Web Content Manager). You all play key roles in the day-to-day functioning and success of the Houston Geological Society—arguably the most important local geological society in the world.
I’ll briefly share with you my main objectives as President at the end of this column, and plan to keep you updated on progress on these objectives in subsequent columns through the year. But starting with the October issue of the HGS Bulletin, I would like to devote most of this monthly space I’m allotted to focus on a specific theme-- Never Stop Exploring. Whether we HGS members are involved in petroleum exploration, oil & gas field development, environmental & engineering geoscience applications, academic research, or other geoscientific endeavor, we geoscientists are all explorers at heart. First and foremost, we explore our planet’s surface and subsurface, and attempt to add to the collective understanding of its composition, structure, and its long and ineffably majestic history. Though there has been, in recent years, an increasing emphasis on the tools that we use to investigate the Earth, we should never lose sight of the importance of our innate human curiosity in driving our efforts—the curiosity to seek to explore beyond the current limits of our knowledge, and the simple but profound pleasure of perceiving something new, or something old from a new angle, for the first time. This year, in which we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon, I think is an especially good time to reflect on our common bond as explorers, and to imagine what we have yet to discover “beyond the horizon.” By the way, if you haven’t yet visited the special exhibition on Earth’s moon at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, I highly recommend it: https://www.hmns.org/exhibits/special-exhibitions/moon-by-luke-jerram/
So, my main objectives as 2019-2020 HGS President are as follows:
1. Improve the financial “health” of HGS. This is always a challenge for the HGS Board, but especially so in the ongoing petroleum industry slump when revenue from advertising, conferences & meetings, and membership dues remains down.
2. Ensure a strong technical program of high interest and relevance to our members, which can also have a beneficial “knock-on” effect on objective #1. Vice President Scott Sechrist and others have already made significant progress in putting together what promises to be an excellent series of technical presentations at the various HGS lunch and dinner events, but if you have suggestions for speakers (including yourself!) and topics, feel free to contact Scott.
3. Increase membership, as well as the number of members who are active as volunteers on committees. Though we have been experiencing a steady increase in membership over the past year, the pace of the increase is too slow, and we are still significantly below our record high of a few years back. I encourage you all to consider lending your efforts and creativity to one of the wide range of HGS committees—take a look at the list of them on page 3 of the Bulletin and contact the chairperson of the committee that appeals to you the most.
4. Put together a proposal to the membership for updating the HGS’s governing documents. The Constitution, By-Laws and Policy Manual of the HGS have not been revised in many years and require revisions in order to bring them up to date. For example, the HGS Board must currently have at least 7 of the total 12 Board members physically present in a meeting in order to have a quorum and make decisions. This limitation made sense at one time, but in this age of video/audio-conferencing it has become a hindrance to carrying out the HGS’s business in an effective way. You can expect to see a proposal coming your way during this fiscal year, on which you’ll be asked to vote. I look forward to serving you during this year and meeting you face-to-face during many of the upcoming HGS events.
Photo: Jon Blickwede (President), Jim Tucker (Pres Elect) and Scott Sechrist (VP)