President’s Column – February 2009

Title: State of the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists

Author: James Mullarkey

Publication: The Outcrop, February 2009, p. 10, 24, 26, 30

As I write this column the RMAG’s fiscal year is already 1/12 gone. The RMAG is in a very good state, due in a large part to the hard work of the employees, assisted by our members, and a special subset of the membership, the RMAG VOLUNTEERS.

The Association has two full time employees, Sandi Pellissier, the Executive Director who has provided leadership, guidance, and continuity since 1996; and Josh Robbins. Josh joined Sandi in October of 2007 as the RMAG’s Administrative Assistant. The full time staff is presently supplemented on a regular basis by Carol Dalton, our part time bookkeeper, who is in the office 4 hours per week, since early in August of 2008, to help distribute the work load, to assist in the preparation of the work load, and to allow a financial audit scheduled for 2009. Josh and Sandi also have help from Caitlyn Ray, a part time office staff person who has been in the office between one and three days a week depending on the work load, since October 2008. The RMAG office would welcome any additional RMAG members help with sundry office tasks.

When you stop by to buy your copy of the Uinta Basin DVD publication please say hello and meet anyone you don’t already know, thank the folks you do know and offer to lend a hand if you have some time. By the way, I bought my copy the other day, and it is a great value at less than $27. Even with the depressed commodity prices you still only have to find one additional barrel of oil to pay out your investment. The RMAG is proud to have a staffed office in downtown Denver, ready to serve its membership five days a week, 8 to 4:00 Mondays through Thursdays, and 8 to 3:30 on Fridays, except for holidays and the occasional Democratic national convention.

The RMAG budget is still in a slight state of flux so I expect that the numbers I use below will be a little different in the final 2009 budget, which by the time you are reading this will have been discussed and most likely approved at the monthly Board of Directors meeting scheduled for January 14th. The projected 2009 budget is up 5% compared to the 2008 budget. The RMAG annual budget has grown to over $875,000 for 2009, up 20% from just 2 years ago, $728,000 in 2007. During that time our membership has also increased, by 12% to a current count of 2520. The majority of the RMAG’s income (and expense) is generated by the four or five major annual educational offerings; for 2009 the scheduled events are Don Stone’s structural themed short course (January 27th), the 15th Annual 3-D Seismic Symposium, (March 27th), a geologic software tricks and tips short course (April 23 or 24), the fall Resource Plays Symposium (Sept.) and the 11th Annual Prospect Fair Technofest, (Nov. 2) These offerings account for 47% of the projected annual income (pai) and 32% of the projected annual expense (pae). Other events sponsored by RMAG include the AAPG National Convention, about twice a decade, including June 2009, and the biennial RMAG-COGA meeting last held in June 2008 in conjunction with the AAPG-Rocky Mountain Section meeting. It is thought that having a joint meeting with COGA every two years will help provide a steady biennial income stream. The RMAG made over $85,000 from the July 2008 event, of which 35%, or $30,000 is to be placed into the “rainy day fund”. These less frequent events have been income producers for the RMAG in recent years and the RMAG’s participation in these events can help ensure a thriving Association capable of providing educational opportunities for the membership and the oil and gas community at large.

The next largest budget items are the membership dues on the income side and the operating fixed expense category on the expense side, with the dues contributing about 11% of the pai and the operating fixed expense making up about 29% of the pae, salaries account for just under half of the 29%. The next largest budget items involve publications; publishing expenses for the RMAG’s special volumes, as opposed to the RMAG’s regular periodicals, the monthly Outcrop and the quarterly Mountain Geologist, have decreased as the Association provides digital publications to the purchasers. Recent special publications have had the publication costs largely covered by generous sponsorship and monetary donations. The publications category in the 2009 budget accounts for another 10% of the pai and 17% of the pae, with the vast majority of the income and costs attributed to our monthly Outcrop periodical, with 83% of the publications income and expense, $75,000 of advertising income against $120,000 of expense. That is a summary overview of the major items in your proposed budget for 2009. The other 38% of pai is comprised of $165,000 of pai (19%) from social activities, the luncheon program, and “guidebooks” plus one “non-recurring item”, the $78,700 (9%) of 2009 income from the RMAG share of the RMAG-COGA meeting, with the remaining 4%, ~$35,000 from other items. The remainder of the pae, 22%, includes $123,000 (14%) for social activities, the luncheon program, and “guidebooks” with the remaining 8% (~$70,000) of the pae, accounted for by the aforementioned $30,000 (3%) contribution to the rainy day fund and the last 5% of expense (~$40,000) from other items.

Any discussion of the excellent state of the RMAG would not be complete without a very LARGE THANKS to all the SPONSORS of the multitude of events. Without the outstanding sponsorship of RMAG putting on the events and writing this column would not have been as nearly as enjoyable. Please notice these sponsors and thank and support them in the same fashion that they support your Association. Continuing on the subject of sponsorship, and endeavoring to answer one of Steve Goolsby’s questions from his December column, specifically the one about when RMAG members can have a beer at the Friday luncheons, this could be offered in the luncheon room, if a company or individual stepped up and sponsored this “service.” Contact me for details; the first sponsor will be accepted.

The energy saving fact for this month concerns programmable thermostats. A poll by Consumer Reports showed that half the people polled did not change their nighttime temperature setting. Hopefully the RMAG membership has a higher percentage of folks that do this. I know that I do. But by adjusting temperatures by 5 to 10° F at night or when your home is unoccupied a household can save up to 20% on their heating and cooling costs; reference: Consumer Reports, October 2008, p. 21,

A goal that is being worked on is to obtain an accurate count of active VOLUNTEERS within our membership. My own, present, ongoing semi-accurate tabulation shows about 33 committees or groups with a conservative estimate of around 190 active volunteers based on group or committee email lists. The number drops to about 150 if I count folks only once, even when they participate in multiple groups. It is our goal to increase the number of active volunteers, maybe up to the 15% level. This is not what would be considered a corporate “stretch goal,” but reaching this goal would give us about 375 active VOLUNTEERS.

Coming to the close of this month’s column; do you know how a geologist in a department store over the holidays is like a geologist stranded on a desert island? They are both looking for sales.

It is a privilege for me to serve on the Board of Directors of the RMAG, and hopefully in the membership’s eyes to serve the membership of RMAG.

Preserved dune set, Navajo member of the Glen Canyon Group, Coyote Buttes Wilderness, Utah/ Arizona border. Photo by Phil Moffitt.