99... To most Canadians, the number 99 means one thing; the retired number of arguably the greatest hockey player to ever play the game, Wayne Gretzky.
In fact, he is only the second athlete to have his number retired by a professional league; baseball legend Jackie Robinson (42) was the first (another great athlete - who got his professional start in Canada!).
Gretzky wasn't the largest, strongest or fastest player to play our game, far from that. To see him in person, he was just a regular guy.
So why was he the greatest hockey player ever?
It's because he could regularly anticipate two or three plays ahead of the moment - where the puck was going to be - and then execute the pass or shot at the right time.
Gretzky changed the way hockey teams played offense; he was the first to direct the offense from behind his opponent's goal and broke all the scoring records.
In doing so, he changed the game forever.
So how does this tie to AAPG in our 99th year?
AAPG is an outstanding association with a great staff, strong volunteer support and great products and services for our members and the worldwide geoscience community. We may not be the largest learned or professional association, nor the most prolific scientific
publisher or educator, nor the most integrated international association.
Still, we are a great association.
As I write this article, our House of Delegates has just passed significant candidate reform during its recent meeting in Denver at the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition; thus we will no longer require our officer candidates to serve for an additional
year after being nominated by traveling to Section and Region meetings.
This action will allow for many members who are concerned with the significant time commitment for involvement in the Association's leadership to remove one year off their commitment - and we hope this will help members obtain approval from their management
to serve the Association.
Candidates now will be featured in our flagship publication, EXPLORER, and on the website at aapg.org starting in January of each year, with voting starting in March and ending on May 15.
I thank our delegates for being progressive and embracing this change to improve our election process.
The delegates also have made it easier for our members to align themselves around key technical and non-technical issues and interests by voting in Denver to create Technical Interests Groups, (TIGS)cxxuwyaszyxqybyxfaavsswv and Special Interest Groups, (SIGS).
TIGS and SIGS, in contrast to our current divisions and committees, will have no formal leadership structure, but will develop through the grassroots in the Association. They will have the ability to meet virtually and develop products and services for our
members, by our members.
This is truly exciting for our Association, and I challenge each of you to look at forming or joining an interest group over the next year on topics that you have a passion to pursue.
As your president, I very much look forward to approving the formation of the first TIGs and SIGs in the coming year.
My focus this year is to reach out to our staff, leadership and membership and make the following request:
"Give me one idea that you believe would improve the Association as we move into our second century."
So I ask you to contemplate: What do we do well?
What could we do better?
What should we do more of?
And, the most difficult question, what should we do less of - or maybe stop
Wayne Gretzky was great at anticipating where the puck would be, and AAPG is a great organization by being good at many things. To continue to be great, we need to ensure that we are internally examining and discussing what we do, what we can do better,
and what we should start or stop doing.
AAPG needs to first look inward, to our membership, to decide where we will go in our next century.
This is critical for the advancement of our science, our members, the profession of geoscience and for the public.
I will be making some changes to the monthly President's Column this year by allowing other members of the Executive Committee to pen articles that are important to you, our members.
Kicking off in August, our treasurer, Jim Tucker, will share insights into the 2015-16 budget - and the challenges we, as an Association, are facing with low oil prices, conference attendance, sponsorship and member retention during this difficult downturn.
I'm very excited and proud to be your president and I'm looking forward to meeting many of you this year.
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