If you’re reading this you’re probably already an AAPG member, but you also probably get questioned from time to time about why anyone should want or need to join AAPG. I know at least one geologist whose attitude is, “I can get everything I need from AAPG through the library or through my company. Why should I join?”
The ethical implications of that question are worth a column by itself, but when confronted with such questions many of us come up short-handed: Sure, why should one bother to join?
There are many reasons, of course, or I wouldn’t be posing the question and writing a column about it. These reasons range from the obvious to the ethereal. The most obvious are the tangible benefits a member gets, such as the monthly AAPG EXPLORER and AAPG BULLETIN – industry news and science at your doorstep, or whatever passes for an electronic doorstep, every month. We’re an industry that develops and sells prospects based on geoscience and analogs, both of which can be found in the AAPG publications – and the more of them you can find and use, the better your chances of success in either wildcat or development operations. As an AAPG member you get not only the monthly BULLETIN but you also have free online access to the BULLETIN archives, as well as discounted prices on geoscience books published by AAPG and several affiliated societies.
Members get discounts on their registrations to AAPG scientific conferences and exhibitions and to the AAPG continuing education programs. How many of us have justified attendance at an AAPG meeting by showing management a relevant technical program? The concepts and analogs we encounter in publications and at conferences provide the basic tools with which we do our jobs.
Other tangible benefits vary in value, depending on whether an individual works independently or has the backing of a large company or organization. Access to the AAPG group insurance program is invaluable to many of our consultant members – not so much for the ExxonMobil employees. If you’re a specialist, AAPG offers several focus groups you can be part of, ranging from the formal AAPG Divisions – the Energy Minerals Division, Division of Environmental Geosciences and Division of Professional Affairs – to smaller groups such as the History of Petroleum Geology and Astrogeology committees. Visit the AAPG Web site at www.aapg.org and check them out. All this can be had for modest membership dues that are among the lowest in the world for equivalent societies.
AAPG membership also offers quasi-tangible benefits – and for many members these less tangible benefits are more valuable. Going to AAPG meetings, and better yet, interacting with colleagues on AAPG committees, offers tremendous networking opportunities. Developing the geoscience is usually the primary reason for meetings or committee work, but while you’re there you’re also networking whether you realize it or not. Networking is an invisible benefit leading to contacts, ideas, friends and maybe your next job. It’s better than Facebook – it’s the real thing.
If you’re a professor thinking about jobs for your students, AAPG offers connections to industry, a career-services Web site where one can post a résumé or a job opening, and contacts that can lead to research funding. AAPG supports many students directly with the Grants-in-Aid program. Moreover, according to the AGI Status of the Geoscience Workforce, 2009, 21 percent of geology MSc graduates went to work for the oil and gas industry in 2006, the largest block employer for MSc students, so it’s worth being part of AAPG. If you’re a student, volunteerism in a professional organization, especially AAPG, looks pretty good on a résumé.
In addition, there are a variety of in-tangible benefits, including pride in belonging to the world’s largest applied geoscience community and supporting the organization that’s undoubtedly helped us to learn and practice our trade in ways we’re often only vaguely aware of.
The AAPG Foundation works behind the scenes, contributing significant funds to support the dissemination of geoscience. AAPG runs research conferences, publishes that research and supports and organizes a respected and well-received program of itinerant and often exhausted Distinguished Lecturers. Supporting AAPG with membership keeps these and many other AAPG programs strong.
Finally, belonging to AAPG keeps one sharp. Taking in talks and posters at meetings and reading the BULLETIN exposes us to new scientific and business ideas and keeps us thinking. You’re in danger of stagnation if you can’t find something useful to your current line of work at an AAPG meeting or an AAPG publication.
So, why belong? If one had to wrap it up in a sound bite, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” Tell a fellow geologist.
John C. Lorenz, AAPG President (2009-10), is president of Geoflight LLC, Edgewood, N.M. Before forming his consultancy in 2007, Lorenz was Distinguished Member of Technical Staff for Sandia Laboratories, a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and a teacher in Morocco for the Peace Corps.