President’s Column

A Column for You(th): Part Deux

My September 2011 columncssClass:asshRef was written specifically for Student and Young Professional members of AAPG. We received so much feedback that we’re revisiting this topic for February’s column – this time with co-authors Nick Lagrilliere and Richard Ball, chairpersons, respectively, of the AAPG Young Professional and Student Chapter committees.

In my September column I discussed why professional societies are important to your future career, and why Students and Young Professionals should consider joining AAPG in particular. This topic seemed to strike a nerve. This column is a reply to the many comments that we received.

As previously mentioned, the adjacent graph shows the distribution of membership by age. The large peak associated with Students and Young Professionals (YPs, ages 21-30) signifies the long-term critical aspect of AAPG’s future success, namely recruiting and retaining you as new members, and welcoming you into the Association.

To set the stage, consider these two stark realities: First, as of 2011, the current retention of Student Members after graduation is less than 9 percent. When these numbers are projected into the future, AAPG’s membership is static to slowly declining – a topic that I will examine in greater detail in a future column. Second, HQ has a hard time locating students once they have graduated.

The feedback from my September column fell into two categories:

  1. Students/YPs don’t join AAPG because they don’t perceive its value. For example, they may mistakenly believe they can get all their career “mojo” – technical information and career guidance – from the web or from their employers. Or, in some cases, students and YPs may not feel a personal connection to any AAPG members; nobody has enticed them to participate in professional or social events.
  2. Students/YPs perceive value in the AAPG, but feel they cannot afford the dues. Or, they may simply be overwhelmed, and feel they don’t have time to engage.

All of these are legitimate concerns.

We’ll address these concerns, while also reviewing three programs that are designed to transition Students and Young Professionals into the AAPG.

  • First, the Student sponsorship pays for 100 percent of AAPG for their memberships, which makes membership “free” for students. Student corporate sponsorship began in 2003, initially sponsored by Halliburton and, most recently, by Chevron. This program pays the membership fees ($10/year) for all Students. In addition, last spring, the House of Delegates voted to extend Student dues rates up to 24 months after their graduation to help ease their transition into the professional working world. Chevron, through Bobby Ryan’s leadership on the Corporate Advisory Board, is to be commended for its sponsorship, which has had significant global impact in our membership. The evidence shows that this program is effective. In 2002, before this program was initiated, there were 2,173 Student members. By contrast, as of June 2011, we now have 6,928 Student members.
  • Second, the Student Chapter Committee helps to maintain the more than 245 Student Chapters of the AAPG. A primary objective of this committee is to increase Students’ awareness of membership benefits, both professionally and personally. AAPG supports Students by providing ready-made programs that Students can participate in: the VGP and Distinguished Lecture Program, the L. Austin Weeks Grant program (see page 38), the Imperial Barrel Award program, and the Local-Student Chapter Leadership Summits. In addition, the Student Expos and Annual/International conventions provide venues for Students to expand their networks every year. As the AAPG retains a strong commitment to scholarly pursuits, the Student Chapter Committee encourages Students to take advantage of AAPG and the Foundation grant/scholarship programs to help pay for college.

AAPG also nurtures the leaders of Student Chapters. This year, the Student Chapter Committee will launch phase II of the James A. Hartman Local-Student Chapter Leadership Summit (L-SCLS) program. Four successful pilot programs were held in 2011. During the summits Chapter officers come together to network, learn about other successful chapter programs and events, and build on each chapter’s lessons learned.

  • Third, after graduation, the Young Professional Committee  comes into play. Restructured in 2008, its goal is to retain members after graduation and to promote active membership by creating a community of belonging for the YPs. Most recently, we have tried four new things. We have founded YP Chapters in most Sections and Regions, with more to come. To ease the transition from Student member to YP, we are creating a concept for YP outreach to Student Chapters along with the Student Chapter Committee. We are collaborating with the Division of Professional Affairs to develop a “Member-in-Training” concept as a track for YPs to follow to certification. Finally, we also are working with Jeff Lund (chair of the House of Delegates) and Section/Region leadership to encourage having YPs on the ballot for the next House of Delegates election. Ryan Lemiski was the first to be elected, but we hope there will be many more in the near future.

In 2012 the SCC also will complete its restructuring process, at which point every Region and Section will have a liaison for both Student and Young Professional questions and program development. More details on these committees will be updated in upcoming EXPLORER articles. By providing Students and Young Professionals with these resources, we look to aid them in building their professional networks around the globe.

In summary, we offer a geologic call to arms! To all Students and Young Professionals, here is an open invitation to engage in AAPG activities. The best way to get started is to just jump in. Find a colleague or subject you’d like to work with, and invest a few hours of time into your future.


Arnold Bouma, the 2007 Sidney Powers’ Medalist, died in mid-December. Arnold made a major investment in my early career by offering me unprecedented publication opportunities based on my research activities. I would likely have never become a professor or been elected AAPG president had Arnold not opened these doors for me. His actions serve as a reminder of the significant role that individuals can make in other’s careers (i.e. those of us to the right of the 26-30 age category on the graph), a role that we all need to emulate for the Young Professionals and Students entering our field. I am forever indebted to Arnold for his support – he will be sorely missed.

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President's Column

President's Column - Paul Weimer

Paul Weimer, AAPG President (2011-12), is a geology professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

President's Column

AAPG Presidents offer thoughts and information about their experiences for the Association. 

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