President's Letter for June 2024

A Year to Remember


It has been a true pleasure to serve as your President during our Society’s 100th Year Anniversary. Since its inception in 1923 coincident with the Gulf Coast oil boom, the Society has expanded to serve the many aspects of the Houston area and its geological needs. While still focused on petroleum, it serves member’s needs in the environmental industry; salt, sulfur and uranium mining; oil and natural gas underground storage; geothermal; and carbon capture and storage, a logical extension of water and CO2 floods used in enhanced recovery of oil and gas. The Society is poised for future expansion into geological fields not yet envisioned.

I had hoped to talk about lofty ideas in my monthly letter. Instead, it seems I spoke mostly about the business of HGS. Operating the HGS is very much like running any small business. It has office expenses, phone systems, payroll, bookkeeping, tax filings, legal contracts, leases, event contracts, insurance, managing investments, website management and more. The office manages complex event schedules and various committee needs and supplies. The Board Members are engaged in many of these functions, and the President and President-Elect are engaged in all of them.

The fiscal year (July 1-June 30) starts with preparing a budget. Using the prior year’s actual expenses and each committee chair’s estimate of the coming year, a budget is constructed. The importance of committee participation in this is crucial. Dues make up about ten percent of our total revenue. Many committees have no opportunity for revenue as they perform community services, such as Educational Outreach, the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston, Earth Science Week and others. Some committees have little cost or are revenue neutral, such as the technical dinners. That leaves most of the operating revenue to be generated by events; social, continuing education, symposiums, field trips and others. The remainder is made up by sponsorships. Corporate sponsors and individual Member sponsors all help to keep the Society operating. This year, we offered Member sponsorship opportunities beginning at $100, starting with the Past President’s Luncheon in August, where we had nearly 100 percent participation. Since then, we have seen a very high level of Member sponsors, and we have recognized them on the monthly Sponsor page in the Bulletin. I would like to thank all of the Sponsors, from the largest corporate to the smallest Member levels that supported us this year. Thank you for your support!

We had some outstanding events this year, starting with the successful Student Expo in September chaired by Amanda Johnston. There was the 100th Anniversary Gala in October and the Bulletin Special Edition commemorating the 100th Anniversary. Thanks to Charles and Linda Sternbach, Craig Dingler and Jeff Lund among others for making this happen. The Golf Tournament was the usual great success, chaired by Jimmy Bagley. In November, we held a field trip to Galveston that led by Erik Scott. December was host to the Second Annual HGS Holiday Party, and we transformed the Skeet Shoot into the First Annual Sporting Clays event, chaired by David Perez. February was the Scholarship Night Dinner chaired by Fang Lin with the support of Sponsor Chair, Jeff Lund. March was punctuated by the HGS office move, transparent to most members as the suite number (250) moved with us. March also included a very successful short course, Clastic Depositional Systems, taught by Mike Sweet and hosted by the Continuing Education Committee’s new Chair Angel Callejon. April saw the Annual Shrimp Peel chaired by Michael Salazar. Of course, each month saw technical dinners or luncheons in a robust and successful program such as the November Sheriff Lecture and the January Legends Night managed by Vice President Linda Sternbach.   The Environmental and Engineering Group dinners were chaired by Matt Cowan and Troy Meinen.  Thanks to Steve Getz for chairing the International Exploration Group.  The newest technical group, the Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) interest group hosted lunches chaired by Bryan Guzman.

There are many more activities too numerous to mention, and many active committees that make the HGS what it is. To all of those committee chairs and volunteers, named and unnamed in this column, I express my sincerest thanks and appreciation! My thanks also go to the committee volunteers that run the social media and communications committees. And to Bulletin Editor Caroline Wachtman, my special and express thanks. She has done a terrific job bringing interesting content to you, the Members, on a timely basis, while putting up with any delays to publication because the President is running late with his Letter; thank you Caroline. It has definitely been quite a year!

That brings us to the coming year. One of the first things you will notice is that we increased dues to $40 from $36. I appointed a special committee to review the dues situation including things like switching to a calendar year, different ways of billing, and of course, the increase. It has been two years since the last increase, a limit set by the bylaws. The maximum increase we could consider was to $43.20. The committee recommended a $4 increase to $40, which the Board agreed and approved. The cost of your membership is $3.33 per month, less than most of your streaming TV services.

Even though it is not July, next year is already moving ahead, and I am sure President Penny Patterson will embrace it with all the enthusiasm it demands. Already in motion are the Grand Canyon River Trip next spring, the Student Expo, the joint HGS/GESGB Africa Conference and the annual Golf Tournament and Second Annual Sporting Clays. Watch for them as some have deadlines coming, but I am going to let President Patterson tell you more about them in her monthly Letters.

It has been an honor to have served as your President, and I look forward to seeing all of you at the many upcoming events!