Letter from the Secretary/Editor
I recently attended the annual AAPG Leadership Conference at Keystone, Colorado, from Aug. 17-19, 2007. This was a great location to hold the conference, offering an escape from the summer heat in Dallas and a chance to spend a few extra vacation days biking in the cool mountain air, getting in some altitude training in preparation for the Hotter’n Hell Hundred Bicycle Rally in Wichita Falls, Texas, the following weekend. But I digress; more on the Hotter’n Hell later…
This was my second time to attend this annual affair, AAPG’s answer to leadership training for the large volunteer contingent of elected officers and appointed committee chairs throughout the organization. I went in my role as the elected Secretary/Editor of the House of Delegates and as a delegate from the Dallas Geological Society. About 200 people attended, so one of the highlights for me was simply the chance to network and make acquaintances with many leaders from around the country and internationally. I was impressed throughout that both officers and staff are truly dedicated to making AAPG an important and essential part of our professional lives as petroleum geologists.
A large number of work sessions and focus groups were held on Saturday and Sunday morning. I attended a lively session on applying the leadership principles of the book Good to Great, by Jim Collins, lead by Gary Richetto. Another interesting session, led by Richard Nehring, was on “Petroleum Resources- Peaked or Not Peaked?” Nehring presented findings of the 2006 Hedberg research conference on “Understanding World Oil Resources”, with the general consensus that the actual peak in world oil production will not occur for several years, and then it will be more of a plateau that will extend for many years, rather than a peak.
As a Delegate, the most significant work session was on “Membership - How to Reach Non-Members”, led by past-president Dan Smith and Marty Hewitt, current HoD Chair.The AAPG Executive Committee is pushing a strong membership drive this year, as detailed in the accompanying article by Marty, and it is part of our charge as delegates to recruit and screen new members. Andrea Reynolds of Houston Geological Society presented results of an interesting pilot survey done a couple of years ago comparing HGS and AAPG membership. From a large database of members from both E&P and vendor companies, about 51% belonged to HGS only, 23% belonged to AAPG only, and 26% belonged to both. A similar, although less well documented, situation exists at my home society in Dallas. Ideally, geologists should seek to belong to both their local and national societies, because each offers unique networking, training, and other benefits. How to cross-fertilize, or to increase the percentage of geologists joining both the local and national societies, was a topic of some discussion, but it is obvious that there is a large pool of potential new AAPG members that could be recruited from the local societies.
To me personally, this not-joining issue is somewhat puzzling. As a young geologist, struggling to establish myself as a professional, it seemed imperative to join both the AAPG and my local society. It was an anxious period as I waited to find out if my application for active membership was accepted, because I viewed membership as giving legitimacy to my claim of being a petroleum geologist. It seems that this should go without saying, but apparently some individuals do not make this connection.
In my experience, the best way of recruiting and retaining members is through a local, grassroots effort of personal contact. To second Marty’s comments, I agree that a very effective program can be set up through a local Ambassador initiative. To take the concept one step further, the designated local point Delegate, or Ambassador, should multiply his or her efforts by setting up a local “recruiting agent” network with one or more active local/AAPG members in each company designated to act as internal recruiters or ambassadors for the societies. These key people, presumably respected geoscientists in their own organizations, would track down non-members and, with a personal presentation of membership applications, encourage them to join up. Some effort by the local society Membership Committee Chair or appropriate officer to locate and motivate these key ambassadors would surely pay dividends in increased society membership at both the local and national levels.
Meanwhile, after my return from the brisk mountain air of Keystone to the steamy August heat in Dallas, the Hotter’n Hell Hundred weekend was looming large. This four-day event in Wichita Falls is the premier bicycle event in Texas, with the highlight being the hundred mile rally on Saturday. As captain of my company’s cycling team, I was there with our group as part of some 11,000 other riders gathered for the 7:00 AM start. With an F-16 flyover and the blast of the starting howitzer, we took off in the early morning light. Some 6-½ hours later, with temperatures a relatively cool (for Wichita Falls in August) 96°F, I rolled over the finish line in an exhausted triumph of determination and persistence over common sense.
In retrospect, the tremendous expenditure of energy required to pedal 100 miles in the heat and wind seems like a little thing. Think how much less energy it takes, and how easy and satisfying it can be, to invite a colleague to join you as a member of AAPG.