As of July 1, it is a new year for AAPG, both accounting-wise and for our volunteer leadership structure. Accordingly, Steven Goolsby has passed the baton to me and moved to the position of AAPG past president. I am honored to take up the role of president. Please join me in expressing gratitude for Steven’s service and in welcoming our new president-elect, Deborah Sacrey. I look forward to working with Deborah and all the Executive Committee members in the times to come.
And what interesting times they are. Steven has used this column for the last 12 months to explain how our shrinking membership rolls and worsening finances pose existential threats to AAPG.
However, for my first monthly column I wanted to share something positive that rings true amid the challenges we face. For this I refer back to the online Strategic Planning Survey conducted in November 2022 and shared in the April 2023 EXPLORER at Explorer.AAPG.org > Archives > Issue Archives > April 2023 > Finding the Pulse of AAPG.
In that survey, respondents’ top two values for AAPG were advancing the science/technology and professional community/networking. Together, these are exactly what we gain when we attend meetings of a professional society.
Our Values in Action
In late April and early May I had the pleasure of attending annual conferences in two sections: GeoGulf, hosted by the Houston Geological Society, and the Southwest Section meeting, hosted by the North Texas Geological Society. Each of the host organizations celebrated its 100th anniversary. (Unfortunately, I had a scheduling conflict with the Rocky Mountain Section meeting, or else I would have been there too.)
Both conferences I attended were terrific successes with robust technical programs. Speakers got lots of questions from highly engaged audiences. The exhibit areas were lively. Many business cards were exchanged. Clearly pent-up demand, post-COVID, was unleashed.
They did take different approaches to the social/entertainment program. GeoGulf went for razzle-dazzle with – not one, but – two NASA astronauts: Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, the Harvard-trained geologist who walked on the moon in the last Apollo mission, and Jessica Watkins, who is part of the Artemis mission to return to the moon. Both gave keynote addresses and Schmitt accompanied attendees for a private tour of the NASA campus. In contrast, the Southwest Section did a brilliant job showcasing the talent, local businesses and volunteer spirit of Wichita Falls, giving participants a truly warm and welcoming feeling. At one event participants visited a portion of the freshly-renovated downtown area, and it was lovely.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at both. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Strategic Planning Survey: speakers want to share their knowledge and latest insights, attendees want to hear them, and everybody wants to see old friends, look for new connections and have some fun while doing it. The section meetings were home runs!
A very pleasant bonus was that several people at each meeting came up to me to offer their time and talents as volunteers. They each offered a particular area of interest that would excite them, and of particular interest was the wide spectrum covered.
Those offers reminded me once again about our most precious resource: volunteers. In a member-led organization, it is the volunteers who make it go. However, feedback from a recent focus group with student and young professional members included the comment that they might like to volunteer, but they were not aware of, unable to locate or not invited to take up roles they would be willing to fill. That’s a shame and needs to be addressed.
A View to the Next Century of AAPG
As changes are proposed and debated for AAPG’s path forward, we have the opportunity to come up with a simpler, more logical structure. A more straightforward structure will allow members to more easily locate and join up with communities and committees that appeal to them. This would increase engagement, beef up the programs, better set up a generational succession and relieve some of the stress on loyal volunteers who currently do so much. An active, energized membership is exactly what we hope to achieve with a re-imagined AAPG.
So in summary, the key points are:
- Do consider participating in upcoming face-to-face AAPG meetings, which satisfy the top two interests of members: scientific/technical growth and community/networking. Plus they are fun! IMAGE registration is open and waiting for you.
- Thank you to all the volunteers in any role whose efforts benefit AAPG programs and services. You are important! Let’s make it easier and more welcoming for new talent to find and join in as well.
- Follow the conversation on proposed changes to AAPG that could enable a simpler, more transparent, more agile organization focused on members’ most desired products and services. At the end of the day, an improved member value proposition will help AAPG get back on track for the next 100 years.
Until next month,