The 2023 TA Annual Meeting in Denver

The annual TA meeting kicked off on Thursday night June 15 with a reception at the Brown Palace in Denver. In addition to TAs and their invited guests, we invited several local AAPG members to join us at the reception. We think this is one of the best ways to recruit new members and we intend to continue the practice of inviting TA candidates to our events.

In attendance, at least part of the weekend, were Valary Schulz (chair), Joe Davis (vice chair), Dan Billman (secretary/treasurer), Donna Anderson, Bruce Appelbaum, Ray Blackhall, Marvin Brittenham, Rebecca Dodge, Kristie Ferguson, Mike Forrest, Dexter Harmon, David Hawk, Peter Lloyd, Jeff Lund, Bill Monroe, Ron Nelson, Kim Parsons, Steve Sonnenberg, Gary Stewart, Steve Veal, Paul Weimer and Mike Wisda. Rebecca Harrington and John Casiano accepted our invitation to join the meeting as guests.

On Friday, we had an excellent field trip, led by local geologist Dr. Bob Raynolds. Although the cool and rainy weather prevented us from an up-close experience at Red Rocks Park, we were able to see a lot of Front Range geology, with emphasis on the aquifers that provide the Denver metro area with a large percentage of its drinking water.

Raynolds worked on a comprehensive study of Denver area groundwater almost 20 years ago, which showed that the withdrawal rate far exceeded the recharge – and predicted the falling aquifer levels that have come to pass and threaten growth and home values.

We finished the field trip at the famous I-70 road cut, and then Dinosaur Ridge, viewing both Cretaceous and Jurassic fossils. The Foundation has supported the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge in several tranches since its formation in 1989.

On Saturday morning, TA Chair Valary Schulz called the meeting to order at 8 a.m. Joining the group online for the meeting were Richard Ball, Dick Bishop, Rick Fritz, Marty Hewitt, Don Lewis, Bill Maloney, Bill Morgan, Jim McGhay, Kay Pitts, Steve Sonnenberg, Denise Stone, Bill Trojan and Bob Webster.

During the meeting:

● TA Secretary Dan Billman gave the membership report, which noted with sadness the passing of four TAs, and one new TA member, Glenn Felderhoff.

● Executive Director David Curtiss’ report covered the membership and financial challenges that the Association was experiencing.

Mike Wisda presented the Foundation Chairman’s report for Jim McGhay (who joined us online), providing an overview of several of the notable programs and services the Foundation supports. Mike also recognized Trustee Emeriti M. Ray Thomasson, recipient of the L. Austin Weeks Memorial Award, and Larry Jones, recipient of the Chairman’s Award.

Rick Fritz joined us online to review the Foundation’s newly created advancement efforts. Rick is currently working to personally contact and speak to each TA, with the objective of establishing contact, engagement and giving a voice to those members unable to attend the meeting.

● Controller Bryan Haws reviewed the Foundation’s investment portfolio. The bulk of the Foundation’s assets are with Vanguard, which also manages the Hartman fund, which prioritizes capital preservation. The third component of the portfolio is a group of alternative investments managed by Commerce Trust Company. George Foldesy of Commerce Trust reviewed the alternative investments and presented an economic and market update, based on Commerce Trust’s analysis of current conditions.

Jeff Lund, chair of the Nominating Committee, presented a proposed slate of leadership candidates, and Chair Schulz invited nominations from the floor. Joe Davis was elected chair-elect and Dexter Harmon vice chair, with Dan Billman continuing in the second year of the two-year term as secretary/treasurer.

As chair-elect, Davis acknowledged the communication issues of the past year and promised to improve communication with the TAs and between the Trustees and the TAs.   

In other business:

  • Rebecca Dodge updated the TAs on the Foundation-supported middle and high school earth science teacher training that she is offering. There are 20 scholarships available that cover the full tuition of the program.
  • Peter Lloyd suggested that our goal should be not to grow the portfolio, but rather to find and support worthy causes. He proposed that the excitement created by the causes that we support would be our best recruiting tool.
  • Ron Nelson observed that the TAs represent a community of committed and talented leaders that should be more fully engaged in both discussions of how the Foundation evolves, but also how the Association meets its financial and membership challenges.

As your new chair, I couldn’t agree more with both Peter Lloyd’s and Ron Nelson’s comments. Bob Raynolds’ story about his 20-year-old aquifer research predicting today’s water crisis in Denver reminds me that when I first joined the AAPG Advisory Council in 2016, outgoing chair Randi Martinsen painted a picture of AAPG’s future, predicting almost exactly the current membership and financial issues.

I sincerely hope that we TAs in our role as scientists, AAPG members and philanthropists will exercise our leadership skills, expertise and generosity to improve our Association and society in general.