SAGE Musings: Student Memberships in Professional Organizations

Eric Baer, Highline College, and Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College
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published Mar 15, 2018 12:26pm

Membership in a professional society is one way for students to get started on preparing for their careers in the geosciences. Membership in professional organizations can help students develop their identity as geoscientists, meet professional geoscientists, learn about the profession and about employment opportunities, attend talks, and participate in local or regional field trips. Many professional societies offer free or discounted memberships to students. In addition, some of these national organizations have state, local or even student chapters with local or regional meetings that are more accessible to geoscience students than distant national meetings. In addition, there are many local geoscience organizations that are not formally affiliated with national organizations. The Northwest Geological Society (Seattle) and the Geological Society Of Washington (Washington D.C.) are examples; there are many more.

Here's one example of how student memberships in professional organizations can be beneficial. SAGE 2YC Change Agent Gretchen Miller writes:

The Carolinas Chapter of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG) has been very active in recruiting and supporting geoscience students in our area for many years. They understand that current college students are future colleagues, but the skills needed to work as a professional geologist are not always emphasized in colleges and universities. So they use their own professionals and contractors to reach out to students to get them better prepared for the work force. They began including Wake Tech students in their efforts many years ago after I requested a speaker. Our students are now regularly invited to their speaker events, meetings, and field trips for little or no cost. They also bring speakers to our campus, and once a year several members will come to campus to discuss their education and career paths. Students can join AEG for free.

A few years ago, the national AEG organization voted to change their bylaws to allow two-year college students to form student chapters at their schools; previously only four-year colleges and universities could host chapters. Some of our students found out about the change and wanted to form a chapter at Wake Tech. At the time we did not have any kind of geology club on campus, so it was a natural way for the chapter to develop. We first had to go through the process of becoming a Wake Tech club, which included developing a constitution and bylaws and getting signatures of interested students. The students did all the work; I mostly set up the meetings and signed off on things. Once we were approved by the college it was a simple process to send in some paperwork to AEG, and then we were approved! We were the first two-year college to have a student chapter of AEG, and the organization would love to see more. Our chapter received the 2017 Outstanding Student Chapter Award from AEG, further showing their support of two-year college students.

We have compiled a list of geoscience professional organizations, including the cost and benefits of student memberships. What organizations are missing from the list below?

Do you make a habit of letting your students know about geoscience professional organizations? What organizations have they joined, and what have they gained from their memberships?

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