It’s been a year of challenges, uncertainty and transitions – professionally, personally and corporately – but despite the struggles, Jim Gibbs has a year-end message of good news to share:
Through it all, and thanks to the ongoing and often generous backing of many supporters, the AAPG Foundation adjusted its approach, increased its focus and found new and successful ways in 2020 to maintain its mission.
“It’s been a tough year for all of us, all around the world, and the global conditions very easily could have had painful impacts on the Foundation,” said Gibbs, chair of the Foundation Trustees. “Certainly, we’ve felt those impacts, but we’ve also found ways to continue to serve the geoscience community.”
The evidence, he added, is found in the financial support that the Foundation provided to geoscience students, educational initiatives and the advancement of new and important geoscience concepts through such programs as the Distinguished Lectures and Visiting Geoscience Professionals.
Importantly, geoscience students around the world kept their careers on track this year thanks to Foundation funding.
“We were able to continue to serve students with our Grants-in-Aid and L. Austin Weeks Undergraduate Grant programs,” Gibbs said. “This year the Foundation awarded graduate grants to 110 students totaling $299,000. The undergraduate grants totaled $86,000 and were given to 111 students and 61 student led organizations.”
Other Foundation programs not only continued but even expanded their reach in 2020. The Military Veterans Scholarship Program, for example, for the first time ever added dependents to its eligibility list, which means that those eligible for support include not only military service members, but their spouses and children, for all four MVSP categories: deceased, disabled, active and veteran.
“The Trustees made that decision so that we could not only honor the veterans but also recognize the sacrifices military families face,” Gibbs said. “And we were able to do that because of the generous support people have provided to the MVSP fund.”
Regarding other Foundation-supported programs, the DL and VGP programs both became prime examples of activities that could have disappeared completely in 2020 due to global travel restrictions, but instead thrived in a new way thanks to adjustments and new approaches in managing and delivering the programs – and thanks to virtual technology.
Statistically, both programs enjoyed banner years in terms of connecting with students and professionals around the world.
For example, the need to connect with students despite the pandemic conditions inspired the creation of a new VGP event called the “Super Sessions,” which are monthly virtual Zoom talks for students that started in the summer and by year’s end had attracted a global audience of more than 1,000 students.
The DL program, too, took advantage of digital technology to find success in the virtual world; all lectures (and complementary podcast interviews) were available online to anyone at any time – plus special Zoom events enabled speakers to present their talks in group settings, then answer attendee questions in live time.
The result: More than 18,000 people experienced Foundation-supported DL lectures and podcasts over the past year.
“We certainly are very thankful to all of the people who supported the Foundation with their gifts this year, but we also know that the new year will once again bring new challenges,” Gibbs said. “Like everyone, we are taking this time to evaluate our priorities and bring our friends closer to us.
“Our hope is that you will continue to support us with a donation,” he added, “so that we may continue to thrive in the months and years to come.”
It’s the goal of the AAPG Foundation: Impacting today, ensuring tomorrow.