Last semester (Spring 2010), I was elected to be the new president of the UNO AAPG student chapter for academic year 2010-11. I would only be the third president of the chapter since it’s re-establishment after Hurricane Katrina. At that point, our chapter was just getting by. The past presidents and I were learning how to run an AAPG chapter.
While I was out in Utah for the summer, I received an email from the GCAGS president, Bonnie Weise. She wanted to nominate my chapter to attend SCLS (Student Chapter Leadership Summit). She asked me to tell her about my chapter and what we plan to do next year. I wrote her back and told her that I really wanted to learn how to make my chapter better and unleash the potential in my chapter. So she submitted a request for me and my chapter to attend the SCLS, and came back with good news on my acceptance to attend.
This was the turning point for me as chapter president. Next thing I know, I was off to Tulsa to go to the SCLS. I did not know what to expect when I got there, but the first day was kind of an ice breaker. This really helped everyone meet the other students and get comfortable.
However, the next day was when I would learn how to make my chapter a success. It opened up with current and past presidents of chapters from around the world talking about their chapters and what does and doesn’t work for them. I think the few hours that we spent doing this is where most of the information needed to help my chapter was gathered.
There was also great insight from the people who helped organize the SCLS, Richard Ball and Mike Mlynek. Also, some active members of AAPG stopped by and shared their thoughts, which was also helpful.. This was a reoccurring theme that would go on for the rest of the weekend, because SCLS coincided with AAPG LD (Leadership Days). The whole time AAPG active members would talk to us and just welcome us into their organization. They really made the students feel welcomed and wanted. The students were even allowed to participate in AAPD LD on the last day.
Since I have left the SCLS, my chapter has really started to make a difference, within my department, as well as New Orleans. I started to tell people that the UNO AAPG chapter was not just a professional chapter but also an education chapter. “Before you become a petroleum geologist, you need to be a geologist”. I have really been pushing the education that our members can benefit from being a part of the chapter.
This month we will start to host a monthly series at a local bar in town. “Bulldog Talks” will feature a local speaker and talk about geology and its impact in the New Orleans area. We have invited local universities, industry, and NOGS (New Orleans Geological Society) to this event. We have also formed an IBA team and NOGS has offered overwhelming support for the team.
We plan on tapping into the distinguish lecture series as well as the visiting geoscientists AAPG provides.
Newfield Exploration has donated reusable cups for us to hand out for our yearly “green” project. I was also asked to attend the board meeting at the annual GCAGS convention this year. Also, our chapter has been getting support from our faculty, and they are excited about a student organization that is so focused and determined on education and getting involved.
A few professors have donated to our chapter’s bank account as well, and we are even getting one of our professors to start teaching Advanced Geophysics classes again. Additionally, we are planning an outreach program for next semester to teach geology to an elementary school.
One of my main goals is to get an educational end-of-the-year trip for the members. I really want to get our members out on some “real” rocks.
Funding is still a big issue for this, but we have some fundraising ideas that we hope to get going for next semester. SCLS not only helped show me how to run my chapter but it showed me a new side of AAPG that I never knew.
Thanks to all members who attended LD.
“Over a year ago I never heard of AAPG, probably couldn’t even spell it. About a year ago I joined the Chapter thinking somehow it would magically get me a job. Now I see AAPG not only as an organization that can help me, but as a FAMILY”.