As I am writing my column we just observed Veterans Day in the States. It reminded me of the many men and women who serve the United States and other countries around the world. My father was in the American Army during world War II. At the age of 19 he was involved in fierce fighting in the hedgerow country of France a few weeks after D-Day. He was asked to lead a charge on a stronghold at the top of a hill, but on the way he tripped a wire-type landmine and was seriously injured.
I remember from when I was a boy the shrapnel scars on his legs and some of the pain he endured, but he was always good-natured. He never talked much about the battles he fought nor his injury until late in his life. What I remember most is that he talked about the community of men and women he served with, who helped him recover from his injures. As I remember this Veterans Day, I thank all of you in the military community for your service around the world.
Communities are an important part of our lives – groups of family, friends and colleagues. We normally take these communities for granted, but during this long quarantine we all miss personal face-to-face interaction.
AAPG has numerous communities – divisions, committees, TIGs, SIGs, etc. One of the most enduring communities associated with AAPG is the AAPG Foundation. I often hear members say that they don’t understand the relationship between the AAPG Association and Foundation. The basic difference is the Foundation is a 501c(3) not-for profit charity and donations are tax-deductible in the United States. The Association is a 501c(6) not-for-profit professional association and donations are not tax-deductible. AAPG exists to serve its members; the AAPG Foundation exists to serve the public – and AAPG members by extension – by promoting the geosciences. Each has an independent board of directors. Donations to the Foundation are typically from individuals and are placed into long-term dedicated funds. Donations to the Association are typically from corporations in the form of sponsorships, which are typically used within the fiscal year for particular projects.
||Grants for graduate students
|Imperial Barrel Award
||Team support in annual exploration competition
||General support for dissemination of science
|L. Austin Weeks
||Undergraduate Grants Grants for undergraduates
|Distinguished Lecturer Program
||Global outreach program to members and public
|Visiting Geoscientist Program
||Educational program for students
|Military Veterans Scholarship Program
||Grants for undergraduate military veterans
The AAPG Foundation is an important benefactor of the geoscience community. When donations are made they are typically allocated to programs. Many of these programs support students but also AAPG members and the general public. You should know that the AAPG Foundation supports the programs listed in the accompanying box above.
The AAPG Foundation has funded many other programs that are for the public good, such as Geoscientists without Borders and Earth Science Week.
The Foundation Family
More than anything, the AAPG Foundation is about people. Many donations come from rank and file members who give with their dues each year and many come from major donations from the well-known leaders of our industry and AAPG. All want to promote the geoscience community by supporting students, fellow geoscientists and science.
More than 30 years ago, the Foundation formed a sub-community for regular donors called the Trustee Associates. Now this group of the Foundation provides the highest percentage of donations each year to the Foundation (see chart). Before COVID-19, this group met every year in the fall to build relationships, keep up with the energy business and just have fun. Some of the Trustee Associates are individual donors, but most are families – men and women and their spouses. They are key partners of a donor team. Families like Lewis Weeks (deceased) and his son L. Austin Weeks (deceased) and Marta Weeks have provided the largest donations to the Foundation. We thank this family for their generosity and leadership.
How to Be Part of the Foundation Community
Another question I am often asked is, “How can we support the AAPG (the Association) in this downturn and time of decreasing revenue?”
My answer is, “Please support the Foundation.”
The Association manages many of the Foundation programs listed above and we desperately need more support in those areas. You can see on the attached chart that both total and trustee associate donations have dropped significantly since the last major fundraising campaign and the downturn that started in 2015.
That’s a little of the AAPG Foundation story. If you want to join the Trustees please contact a Trustee Associate. The donation to become a Trustee Associate is $2000 per year for 5 years (total $10,000). I know times are tough but please give what you can. I joined the Trustee Associates when oil prices were below $10 per barrel in 1999. I’ve never regretted it.
Mr. Rogers About Giving
I recently heard a story about Mr. Rogers attending a White House meeting years ago about children and television. In the middle of the meeting, he asked everyone to be quiet and think about someone that made a big impact on their life. As he was leaving the room, one of the military guards whispered to him, “Thanks, Mister Rogers.” So he went over to him and asked him, “Thanks for what?”
The guard said, “As I listened to you today I started to remember my great uncle. When I was a boy he gave me his favorite fishing rod just before he died. I’ve just been thinking, ‘Maybe that’s why I like fishing so much and why its been an enjoyment in my family.’”
Mr. Rogers remembered that, as far as he was concerned, the major reason for my going to Washington that day was that military guard and nourishing the memory of his great uncle. He said, “It’s slender threads like that that weave this complex fabric of our life together.”
Wow! That’s profound.
That’s the way I feel about community. Whether it’s about the veterans who served with my dad or one of the many professional communities like the Foundation. Whether you can afford to give materially or not, remember that the rarest form of generosity is to give someone your attention, especially when we are so isolated.
Great people. Great service to our profession. Many thanks are due to the Foundation and its many donors.