Independent Research Powered by Volunteers – December 2020

A diverse group of more than 50 volunteers – from our Board to technical committees –
power Geoscience BC’s independent research

By: Gavin C. Dirom, President & CEO

Have you ever wondered how the Geoscience BC Society, a relatively small and independent organization with just nine staff members, gets so much done every year? The answer is through teamwork, collaborative partnerships, financial support, professional staff and dedicated volunteers from start to finish. In fact, volunteers are at the heart of our collaborative approach to public geoscience in British Columbia, bringing researchers, industry, communities, Indigenous groups and governments together.

In a normal year, the Geoscience BC office is a hive of activity. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed that, but it hasn’t stopped our busy volunteers from continuing to provide tremendous value.

Hundreds of Volunteers
Our steadfast volunteers are committed to our mission and continued success. After all, let’s not forget that it was volunteers that set up the organization in the first place, back in 2005. Since inception, hundreds of volunteers have donated thousands of hours of their time - estimated at over 23,000 hours to date.

Over the last 15 years, our volunteers have guided the 196 completed projects in every region of British Columbia on minerals, oil and gas, geothermal and water resources. They have helped us to share geoscience research and data with the public that advances knowledge, informs responsible development, encourages investment and stimulates innovation. Simply put, our volunteers know that good science enables better decisions and supports a competitive, and adaptable, economy.

Currently, we have 40 research projects and more than 50 active volunteers, fulfilling roles on our volunteer Board and committees – plus the many people that devote their time to guide our research and provide feedback. This helps ensure a diversity of people and interests have a voice in how we operate and adds value to the research projects we support and manage.

Our volunteer Nominating Committee usually meets each spring and summer to confirm returning Board Directors and other volunteer committee members and to propose a list of new candidates in June or September as needed. The Board, with its variety of backgrounds and interests, is responsible for the overall governance and strategic direction of the organization, including research project budgets based on recommendations from its volunteer Technical Advisory Committees (TACs).

The Minerals, Oil & Gas and Geothermal TACs are an essential part of our agile and innovative approach. They generate, solicit, review and recommend proposals for Board approval and their specific expertise is vital to the success of our research projects. We are always keen to hear from people interested in volunteering on one of our TACs, and our nomination process is open to anyone with geoscientific education and experience. Note: through November and December 2020, we are seeking up to three new Oil & Gas Technical Advisory Committee members.

Since our inception, we have averaged $5.9 million in expenditures every year, of which more than 80% is spent directly on technical research projects. The group that oversees financial matters is our volunteer Finance Committee. It reviews and recommends the appointment of an auditor, interim and annual financial statements and our annual operating budget.

Highly skilled, competent and knowledgeable people are critical to a strong, enlightened and thriving society. Building lasting geoscience literacy and capacity is an important strategic objective to us. Our volunteer Scholarship Committee is central to achieving this. They review applications and recommend awarding up to ten $5,000 scholarships annually for Masters or PhD level geoscience studies undertaken in BC. To date, 124 students have received scholarships.

Unique and Successful
We could not be successful without the tremendous contributions from volunteers. On behalf of the organization, I wish to thank all of our volunteers for your work, your time and your dedication – you are a big part of what makes Geoscience BC so unique and successful.