AAPG Foundation Newsletter - September 2023

Greeting, friends –

Welcome to the fall edition of the AAPG Foundation newsletter – a brief look at what we’ve accomplished (we’ve been busy!) and what’s still in store for 2023.

Plus, we have a bonus story below that you won’t want to miss.

For many of us, we’re starting our favorite part of the year. The summer vacations are now pleasant memories, and we’re looking forward to new opportunities with renewed energy.

That goes for your Foundation, too. We’re ready for a great fall season!

But first, I’d like to thank all of you for your continued support of the Foundation and its mission. I’ve said it before, but it’s always true:

We’re impacting the future of geosciences, thanks to YOU!

Now, about that productive period we just experienced …

* * *

Two military veterans plus the dependent of a veteran, all of whom aspire to have careers as professional geoscientists, were selected recipients of the Foundation’s Deana and Paul Strunk Military Veterans Scholarships – one of our most popular programs.

They (and their schools) are:

  • Sydney Cloutier, veteran dependent, U.S. Air Force, University of Miami (Fla.).
  • Stephen Huffnus, sergeant, U.S. Marines, Colorado School of Mines, Golden.
  • Laurie Smith, sergeant, U.S. Army, Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

You make it possible: As you know, since 2015 the Foundation annually awards scholarships to both active U.S. military service members or honorably discharged veterans who are entering or re-entering a post-secondary undergraduate program in the field of geoscience. This year’s trio becomes recipients 51-53.

Returning to the academic world isn’t an easy task, so being able to provide this kind of support is good for veterans and their families, and worthy of the Foundation’s mission of providing for a strong geoscience future.

Read more here.

* * *

Speaking of the MVSP – it was a topic of discussion during our recent Foundation Town Hall, held in Houston during IMAGE. As recalled by Trustee Mike Wisda, “We need more applicants – it’s a terrific program, and we want to help more people realize their dream.”

The Town Hall itself was a lively, informative and well-attended session that covered a variety of Foundation activities and plans, featuring Wisda, fellow Trustees Scott Cameron and Valary Schulz, Trustee Associate secretary/treasurer Dan Billman and Foundation Executive Director David Curtiss.

We plan to have more of these sessions in various locales throughout the year. They’re important – for you to learn about what we’re doing, and for us to get your input and feedback. When we come close to your town, do yourself a favor: Don’t miss it!

* * *

Celebration time – C’mon!

And speaking of IMAGE, a huge highlight is always the Chairman’s Reception, and this year the event was extra special – in addition to getting a chance to greet and personally thank our Foundation family, this year we also recognized and honored all four of our award recipients.

Even better, all four were on hand to offer their comments:

  • Davide Oppo, the Inspirational Geoscience Educator Award recipient: “One of the key points of being an educator is not just transferring knowledge, but also inspiring the younger minds you teach or work with – and we call can be educators, we can all make a difference and impact the life of a student or a young professional.”
  • Shannon Chatwin, the Teacher of the Year recipient: “If we don’t expose our students the possible options and opportunities found in the various science majors and minors, then we will not be able to staff the many areas where scientists are needed.”
  • Larry Jones, the Chairman’s Award recipient: “I have enjoyed the involvement in the Foundation, because it really helps so many others to excel. Here in the Foundation … there is so much pertinent good activity. God bless you all, and thank you for this wonderful award.”
  • M. Ray Thomasson, recipient of the L. Austin Weeks Memorial Medal, our top award: “I was surprised, shocked and then pleased to learn I was receiving this honor. Today I am quite humbled. My love for and commitment to the AAPG simply has grown over the years … I have been especially proud of our Grants-in-Aid and MVSP programs, which have helped many up-and-coming geologists. The Foundation has and continues to provide assistance and help for thousands of young geologists.”

It was a great night of celebration and fun. You can see that for yourself in these photos.

* * *

Save the date!

The Foundation Trustee Associates are heading to a world-famous location for their next annual meeting – the Biltmore Estate, in Ashville, N.C.

The meeting will be held May 19-22, and while specific details are still being finalized, you can be sure the meeting will include times for business meetings, receptions, area tours and, of course, s special guided tour of the historic Biltmore.

Watch our website and emails for registration details, but plan now to join us in Ashville. You won’t want to miss this one!

* * *

Sad news to report.

Shortly  before “going to press” with this newsletter we learned that our great friend and Foundation VIP Marta Weeks-Wulf has died, in Hobe Sound, Fla. She was 93.

Her enormous impact on the Foundation, geosciences and the world beyond are the stories of legend; in fact, it is literally impossible to tell the story of AAPG and the Foundation without focusing on her and her family’s continuous, generous philanthropic support through the years.

“I give to AAPG to honor my father, my husband and my father-in-law,” she once said, “all of whom were involved in petroleum geology.”

Her most recent gift to the Foundation was announced last year – a $5 million annuity gift that will be distributed through 2029. But that was just a fraction of her kindness.

An honorary Foundation Trustee Associate (a member since 1976), her passion was geoscience education, and the Weeks name can be found on a plethora of Foundation Grants-in-Aid, impacting the lives of thousands of petroleum geoscientists. And in 2008 she was the first recipient of the L. Austin Weeks Memorial Medal, the Foundation’s highest honor, in recognition of her extraordinary philanthropy.

A gifted, multi-faceted woman who was in many ways larger than life, we’d need a book to describe all that she accomplished.

Indeed, we’ll have much more to share about Marta in the November Explorer – please watch for tribute. But for now, please join me in sharing our thoughts, prayers and condolences with her family.

* * *

What’s the value of being a TA?

Here’s our bonus story:

“Serendipity can lead to fascinating results in the life of anyone, but among geologists it can lead to new exploration and/or development opportunities … A few years ago, I met another AAPG Foundation Trustee Associate at an ex-Texaco Christmas luncheon. During our conversation we discovered we had both worked in the same Gulf Coast oil field …”

So starts the true story, by former Foundation executive director Lyle Baie, of how two TAs realized their past experiences were drawing them to new exploration opportunities. You can read about it here. It’s a great story – and a wonderful reminder that old geologists don’t just fade away. They keep rocking!

* * *

Finally, I have three closing thoughts:
  • Be sure to read the Foundation Update stories in the October Explorer – one story on the just-announced Distinguished Lecture season, and another on Rebecca Dodge’s superb program in helping to train teachers to better teach the geosciences. In both cases, it’s your support that’s making it possible.
  • Our next Foundation Networking Reception will be held Oct. 10, from 5-7 p.m. , at the Petroleum Club of Oklahoma City. This event, hosted by the Trustees and the TAs, is planned in conjunction with the Mid-Continent Section Meeting – and if you’re in the area, we’d love to see you.
  • Once again, thank you, each of you, for your valuable, continuous support of the Foundation. Because of you, lives are being changed and the future of geosciences is brighter.

As always, please reach out to me or any of the Trustees with your thoughts and ideas about what we can do better. We’re working for geoscience’s future, and we’re honored to be doing it with you!

Until next time …