Excitement for the Next 100 Years

Having just returned from a fantastic Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of AAPG, I’m feeling very encouraged about the future of our Association.

One of the highlights for me was the opportunity to present on the state of the Energy Minerals Division to the AAPG House of Delegates.

Our EMD membership currently stands at 3,262 paid members, and an additional 662 unpaid members. If you’ll recall, membership in EMD is free with AAPG membership: all you have to do is check the box opting in. So those “unpaid” members are either not checking the box when they renew their AAPG membership, or they are not renewing their membership at all. Now, it’s certainly not unusual for folks not to renew until the last minute, or even late, but these numbers do reflect a trend in the larger membership body.

Gathering the Lost

So, why is this?

Obviously, the downturn has significantly impacted the Association, but it’s quite difficult to collect data from people with whom you aren’t in contact. Rather than just speculating (I’ll do that too, in a minute), let’s look at a bit of the data.

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Having just returned from a fantastic Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of AAPG, I’m feeling very encouraged about the future of our Association.

One of the highlights for me was the opportunity to present on the state of the Energy Minerals Division to the AAPG House of Delegates.

Our EMD membership currently stands at 3,262 paid members, and an additional 662 unpaid members. If you’ll recall, membership in EMD is free with AAPG membership: all you have to do is check the box opting in. So those “unpaid” members are either not checking the box when they renew their AAPG membership, or they are not renewing their membership at all. Now, it’s certainly not unusual for folks not to renew until the last minute, or even late, but these numbers do reflect a trend in the larger membership body.

Gathering the Lost

So, why is this?

Obviously, the downturn has significantly impacted the Association, but it’s quite difficult to collect data from people with whom you aren’t in contact. Rather than just speculating (I’ll do that too, in a minute), let’s look at a bit of the data.

One category of non-renewers is “lost Members.” These are folks who were sent a renewal form and it came right on back. Their addresses changed and have not been updated in the AAPG system. I like to think they aren’t hiding from us, so what probably happened was that they were using their work address for AAPG membership and changed jobs as a result of the current economy. Or, they simply moved or retired.

But you can help. Do you have any friends who might need to update their address? Buddies who just retired? Keep them involved!

Another obvious cause is that people who lost their jobs might not be able to pay the more than $100 to renew. But good news for them as well: AAPG has a graduated dues system. (Visit www.aapg.org/about/membership/graduated-dues.)

They may qualify for income-based reduced dues, as low as $26.25. I can’t think of a better investment of twenty bucks than membership in one’s professional society when one is job-hunting.

Evolving Into the Future

Now, for some speculation.

Maybe people aren’t joining AAPG, or EMD specifically, because they don’t perceive any value.

As an invested participant, that’s a hard idea for me to digest, but I think it’s important to talk about. So, to address that, the officers and councilors of EMD are working hard on better ways of communicating with our members.

Obviously, we’re going to keep doing many of the awesome programs we’re doing (short courses, talks, posters, all the convention participation, commodity reports), but we’re working on finding better ways to communicate the value of those programs.

We’re also focusing on building a more interactive community, and providing direct business value both to AAPG and to EMD members.

I’m very excited for what is to come. If I may use a sappy analogy (that’s a preemptive pun), sometimes pruning makes the whole tree healthier, even though it hurts. We’ve all been taking a close look at what we do and why we do it.

This column is for talking about EMD, but rest assured that much more intense, focused and informed work is also going on at all levels of AAPG’s organization.

That’s why I’m encouraged about the next 100 years. Our emphasis on growing and evolving (even though, sometimes our changes may seem like they’re only visible on a geologic time scale), on engaging members and providing value to them, and on adopting and adapting technology, will serve AAPG and EMD well in the future.

Most importantly, the relationships built through our Association are enduring. I’m proud to say I’m an AAPG Member, and many of my closest friends and colleagues are AAPG Members across the world.

I’m honored to have had the opportunity to serve, and I look forward to a lifetime of AAPG membership and volunteering.