Students Share Secrets of Success

Dating back nearly 30 years, the AAPG Student Chapters Program began in 1979 as a six-school, three-year pilot program; the six were “oil patch” schools New Orleans, Oklahoma, Southern Methodist, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, and “non-oil patch” Maryland University.

From a beginning of six chapters and 250 total AAPG student members at the end of the first year, today there are over 130 student chapters worldwide with total AAPG student membership approaching 3,800.

One of the program’s primary goals is to encourage students to think of themselves as professionals by providing contact with the geological profession both inside and outside of academia.

James A. Hartman, of Metairie, La., wrote in 1994 that the program’s success “is a direct result of the combined hard work of the Student Chapters Committee, the students themselves, the faculty sponsors, the industry liaisons and the wholehearted support of the Executive Committee and headquarters staff.”

But what would students who are currently members of AAPG student chapters give as essential factors for success?

We asked five chapters to share their stories, lessons learned and advice. Two provide answers here; next month, advice from students at Stephen F. Austin State University, Imperial College London and the University of Nigeria-Nsukka.

University of Texas-El Paso

2006 AAPG Outstanding U.S. Chapter

El Paso, Texas, U.S.A.; student chapter formed in 1983; adviser – William C. Cornell; current president – Shalina Warrior; past president – Eva-Maria Rumpfhuber.

Describe the key factor essential to the success of your student chapter.

We not only have meetings and arrange fieldtrips on a regular basis, but also make ourselves known within the national AAPG organization; there is strong and consistent UTEP student presence at the student expos and national and regional AAPG meetings.

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Dating back nearly 30 years, the AAPG Student Chapters Program began in 1979 as a six-school, three-year pilot program; the six were “oil patch” schools New Orleans, Oklahoma, Southern Methodist, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, and “non-oil patch” Maryland University.

From a beginning of six chapters and 250 total AAPG student members at the end of the first year, today there are over 130 student chapters worldwide with total AAPG student membership approaching 3,800.

One of the program’s primary goals is to encourage students to think of themselves as professionals by providing contact with the geological profession both inside and outside of academia.

James A. Hartman, of Metairie, La., wrote in 1994 that the program’s success “is a direct result of the combined hard work of the Student Chapters Committee, the students themselves, the faculty sponsors, the industry liaisons and the wholehearted support of the Executive Committee and headquarters staff.”

But what would students who are currently members of AAPG student chapters give as essential factors for success?

We asked five chapters to share their stories, lessons learned and advice. Two provide answers here; next month, advice from students at Stephen F. Austin State University, Imperial College London and the University of Nigeria-Nsukka.

University of Texas-El Paso

2006 AAPG Outstanding U.S. Chapter

El Paso, Texas, U.S.A.; student chapter formed in 1983; adviser – William C. Cornell; current president – Shalina Warrior; past president – Eva-Maria Rumpfhuber.

Describe the key factor essential to the success of your student chapter.

We not only have meetings and arrange fieldtrips on a regular basis, but also make ourselves known within the national AAPG organization; there is strong and consistent UTEP student presence at the student expos and national and regional AAPG meetings.

Many UTEP geology students ultimately seek industry jobs, and thus are interested in the AAPG organization. Our student chapter essentially brings the AAPG professional organization right into the university department, which allows the students to have direct involvement and benefit from AAPG membership.

What information do you know now that you wish you had known when starting your student chapter?

We recommend keeping everything regarding your student chapter in order and organized (e.g. applications, grant opportunities, member lists, etc.). This way you are saving yourself time, and you are able to pass along the information from one generation of officers to the next.

What has been the greatest challenge for your student chapter – and how have you overcome that challenge?

The biggest challenge is usually the organization of the annual trip to the AAPG/SEG student expo in Houston. Our presence at this event requires logistical planning, student participation and funding. AAPG and SEG student chapters usually organize this trip together, with the support of our department. A lot of the “leg work” is done by the student chapter officers. We inform students of the event, encourage their participation, book travel and make sure the travel expenses are paid.

AAPG made travel grants available for this event in 2006. A few of our students received these awards, which helped to offset the cost.

Describe the most effective methods for increasing membership in your student chapter.

There is an amazingly easy recipe: If you want to attract students to come to meetings, simply provide food!

Advice or best practice to share with other student chapters.

Small efforts can sometimes have a big impact. Be creative and do not be afraid to ask if you want to pursue an idea. Our department at UTEP is extremely supportive of our AAPG student chapter activities. However, we also are never afraid to ask if we need something.

The same thing is true for the national AAPG organization, which is wonderfully represented by Mike Mlynek at AAPG headquarters, who is always promptly answering our questions and providing us with tips and new ideas.

University of Bucharest

Bucharest, Romania; student chapter formed in 2000

Adviser – Ovidiu N. Dragasta,; current president – Enea Florentina; past president – Cezar Iacob.

Describe the key factor essential to the success of your student chapter.

A good leader, who is the person to pull people together, to maintain an active relationship with the faculty and the AAPG, to lead and supervise the activity of the chapter.

What information do you know now that you wish you had known when starting your student chapter?

Knowing how to benefit from the various opportunities that AAPG offers to students.

What has been the greatest challenge for your student chapter – and how have you overcome that challenge?

Our greatest challenge was to create a real team from a group of students with different characters and social conditions. We created a team by involving our members in all kinds of non-formal activities, such as group projects or field camps.

Describe the most effective methods for increasing membership in your student chapter.

By distribution of promotional materials, creating a Web site and offering interesting presentations.

Describe the activity or event hosted by your student chapter that attracts the largest attendance.

Once every three years our chapter organizes the National Conference of the Romanian Student Geologists. The most successful edition was three years ago, when more then 200 students from all over the country participated.

This year the event will be hosted again by us, so we’re in continuous preparations.

Advice or best practice to share with other student chapters.

Transform your chapter from a group of students into a group of friends, choose a good leader, and we guarantee you a successful chapter!

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