My last article covered the code of ethics and conduct to which we all agreed when we became a member of the AAPG, and that is a defining part of being a member of the AAPG.
Earlier this year Mary Barrett, past president of the Division of Environmental Geology, wrote an article about “belonging.” I would like to expand on that theme and raise the bar to “What does it mean to be an Active Member?”
If you are reading this article, it’s clear that you are either a current member of the AAPG or know someone who is. Membership is declining across the board. It does not matter what the acronym represents: AAPG, SEG, SIPS, RMAG, HGS or some other organization. People are just not joining or keeping their existing memberships in today’s world. What does it mean to be a member, and should we consider being a member of AAPG for life? It is easy to justify maintaining a membership in the AAPG when we are students and or working professionals, but is just maintaining your membership being an Active Member?
Why Join AAPG?
As I attend technical conferences and other professional events, I am often asked: “Why did you join AAPG?” “Why are you a member of the Division of Professional Affairs?” “Why do you run for leadership positions and volunteer on committees?” (My wife asks me the last question frequently.)
I became a member of AAPG because I wanted to find commercial oil fields and the AAPG was the best source of information on how to achieve my goal. I grew up during the oil embargos of the early 1970s. I saw firsthand what happens when there is a supply shortage of oil. Commodity inflation was out of control and the U.S. economy went into a deep recession. Finding and developing a stable supply of oil for our country is why I wanted to be a petroleum geologist. This same situation happened again when I graduated and entered the oil and industry because of supply disruptions and supply shortages associated with the Iranian revolution of the early 1980s. That was the last global supply shortage I have seen in my career.
Why Join DPA?
Most of you have never seen a major supply shortage. You have only experienced supply surpluses like the one we are in today, which brings me to why I elevated my AAPG membership to include membership in the DPA. During supply shortages, geologist are in high demand. However, they are not in high demand during supply surpluses. This leads to job losses and large-scale employment movement in the geological community. Because of this, there becomes a need to document your work history. Elevating your AAPG membership by joining the DPA provides you with a third-party validation of your work history and achievements. This verification becomes important during times of oversupply like we are experiencing today.
Becoming an Active Member
Have you ever used an AAPG publication to research about oil fields in the geographic area where you may be working or maybe a technical topic that is out of our day-to-day work? Those publications exist because people like you and I were active members of AAPG and have left us a valuable knowledge legacy that no company’s private files can duplicate. As a geoscience student and young professional, I marveled at the work of Edward Rainwater, Arnold Bouma and Peter Vail. Because they took the effort to share their knowledge through publication, I became smarter. I recall the thrill of meeting Pete for the first time and working on a technical paper with him for an AAPG conference. We were being active members.
This brings me back to “What does it mean to be an Active Member?”
The first step to becoming an Active Member is to move your membership from an Associate Membership to Full Membership. This is simply a matter of filing some paperwork – and there is no additional cost to you – at AAPG headquarters in Tulsa. It appears so simple, but many of you have not made this transition. When reviewing resumes, I would always wonder why the person was not a full member of their primary professional society. Did they not see value in the organization that supplied them with a steady stream of current oil finding information?
The second step is getting involved. This can be achieved at the local, regional and international level by attending meetings, submitting talks and volunteering. I can’t tell you how important this is to your career in the oil patch. Almost anyone can write a resume that can get them on the short list at a company. The tough step is getting from the short list to the job offer, especially if you are not working. The way it works is that when the list of names is circulated around the office, if someone in the office personally knows you and says you are good fit for the position, you will get the job offer. Attending meetings, giving talks and volunteering forces you to meet people outside of your company and these friendships are what will keep you employed if you are forced to change jobs either by choice or as a result of downsizing.
In conclusion, I recognize many of you are struggling to maintain a healthy work and home life balance in an ever-changing world. However, I hope that you realize when you need a job, it is much more challenging to develop a business network outside the company. Take this opportunity to get more involved in your affiliated society, section or region, and at the Annual Exhibit and Conference-level by attending meetings, giving talks and volunteering. If we don’t take ownership of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and get involved by maintaining our memberships, encouraging others to join and becoming Active Members, we will eventually see it disappear without a replacement. Let’s not have our legacy as geoscientists of the 21st century be that we let AAPG become extinct.