May 2011


For our final luncheon meeting of the season we are honored and excited to present John Hoffmeister, former CEO of Shell Oil, founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy, and author of Why We Hate the Oil Companies. There will be a book signing prior to the luncheon beginning at 10:30 AM, so plan to arrive early. Be aware that the meeting date has been changed from our regular 3rd Wednesday of the month to Tuesday May 31st to accommodate Mr. Hoffmeister’s busy speaking schedule.

The EIA shrimp boil is set for May 5th at Desiree’s in the Art Center. This is always a relaxing and fun way to end the meeting season, and to find out what plans your colleagues have for the summer. See the announcement in this issue for details.

The annual Family Fossil Hunt is set for May 21st. This eagerly anticipated annual event is open to member’s families and their guests. Look for the announcement in this issue. And remember to bring your shovels and trowels!

Hunting is certainly popular in our part of the world. Deer, antelope, feral hog, duck, quail are popular game. So are geese. In this month’s “Life in the Patch” segment Dennis Taylor, the man responsible for “bagging” Mr. Hoffmeister, tells his story of a successful wild goose chase. If that sounds contradictory, you’ll just have to read his account – it may not be what you expect.


Your CCGS placed a booth on the exhibit floor at the recent AAPG convention in Houston. It was a terrific display, thanks primarily to member Sara Davis and all her hard work. I am extremely grateful to Sara’s employer Seismic Ventures, who defrayed our entry fee by donating $550, and to Lone Star Exhibits for donating all the furniture. Without their support we would not have exhibited at this convention. See the photo page of our booth in this issue.

Our presence was an unqualified success. I’m told the preliminary registration numbers for the convention are over 8000 people and I believe it by the steady stream of visitors we spoke to. We sold enough products to net a small gain, but the big prize was generating interest in the Bones in Schools project to people and organizations throughout the Gulf and beyond. Most exciting was connecting with individuals who represent foundations looking for this kind of educational program to sponsor. Incoming president Mike Lucente and I will follow up on these conversations over the summer, and hopefully Mike will have good news to report in next season’s newsletters.


Owen Hopkins

I am still struggling to accept the loss of our friend Owen Hopkins. Throughout the decades the CCGS has been blessed to have received outstanding and dedicated service from many members, but I don’t think it’s unfair to say none gave more of themselves to this Society than Owen. His many years of service as bookkeeper was only the beginning. Together with Frank Cornish, he started the education liaison committee in 1991, which promoted, among other things, the Jr. Rockhound program. For 15 years or so that was the Society’s flagship community outreach offering, and it remains wildly popular to this day. By the time he received the CCGS Honorary Member Award, our highest honor, in 1992, he had barely gotten started. He helped develop the “spinning wheel” mineral give-away which became a fixture at the Gem and Mineral show, and the Geologic Dig put on every year at Bayfest. Those ideas were signature Owen, crafting a simple, fun way to capture a child’s interest and allow for a moment of discovery.

Then Owen retired. From Suemaur that is. Now the CCGS became his full-time job, and oh, what a career it was! Within months he was our President, and who can forget that year’s kickoff event held at the Science Museum when Owen presented, in his own inimitable, frenetic way, the 3 prong educational initiative: Maps in Schools, Bones in Schools, and Boulders in Schools. It’s hard to believe that was only 5 years ago. I remember thinking what an ambitious plan it was and seriously wondering if enough funds could be raised to carry it as far as Owen was aiming for. I should have known better. We all witnessed the incredible passion and energy Owen put into these projects. He was everywhere, selecting artists and framers, overseeing designs, gathering materials including quarry trips for fossils and boulders. He located graphic artists and printers, he lined up a science educator to write teaching curricula, he found student helpers, he made numerous presentations to the board for support of his ideas, and he raised money in the form of donations like no one else before. He went all over the countryside in south Texas and beyond promoting his educational programs, successfully garnering the interest and donations of businesspersons, civic groups, foundations, and citizens alike. He was determined to counteract the diminishing role of earth science in the primary schools by “planting the seeds of geologic curiosity”.

But most of all, Owen was in the schools, interacting with thousands of kids, delivering his philosophy that “Science is fun, science is good”, particularly the Earth Sciences. His attitude and enthusiasm was infectious and the kids were spellbound. If, between 5 and 10 years from now, there is a surge of earth science majors enrolling in college, I’ll know who to thank. Other affiliated geologic societies saw his work and results and wanted to participate. His efforts culminated in the national Public Service Award presented annually by the AAPG in 2009. And the awards are still coming. At our most recent meeting your CCGS board voted to change the Library Exhibit and Continuing Education Fund to the Owen R. Hopkins Education Fund. And also, I am honored to report that the GCAGS, during its spring board of directors meeting April 9th, voted unanimously to rename its annual teaching award, the Owen R. Hopkins Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award.

It was a wonderful and purposeful “second” career. Sadly, it was much too short.

Season Highlights

The CCGS accomplished much this year. Highlights include the scholarship fund, which grew by $28,000, helped by a $10,000 match from the GCAGS. Eight students received scholarships this season, totaling $6,500. We presented the Bones in School material to over 74 local schools this past season (Eddie Hrncir was instrumental in keeping this going while Owen was dealing with his illness), while Maps in Schools, now promoted by the AAPG, is in over 700 schools nationwide (that we know of). The Boulders in Schools got its start this season, with 3 local schools now displaying a boulder field in their schoolyard. The two high school paleo clubs, started by a grant from the CCGS, remain popular, and are now self funded. We still provide new aprons with logos, evidence of the clubs’ popularity. For the first time we exhibited our outreach educational programs with booths at the GCAGS and AAPG conventions. Junior Rockhound visits were made throughout the season, and as always, received with wild enthusiasm. This valuable program could probably stand more attention next school year. We hosted a one-day industry course on Practical Salt Tectonics, and an evening “social” featuring Dinah Bowman describing her JOIDES deep sea coring expedition. The Sea Level Change video nears completion – I still hope to be able to premier it before the end of our season. The contract was signed to produce the Wooden Rigs/Iron Men video, expected to be released by early next year.

My thanks to all the volunteers who spread our educational programs throughout our community. To Dennis Taylor and Bob Critchlow for finding interesting and educational speaking and reading material (respectively) for our Society. I want to thank my fellow officers on the board for all their hard work, good ears, and better advice. Their support and guidance has made this season a great success, despite some trying circumstances. Lastly, the CCGS couldn’t function without the constant effort of all our committee chairs and I offer my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you. You made my job so much easier and allowed our Society to remain viable and important. I am honored to have led such a worthwhile organization.

Rick Paige
CCGS President, 2010-11