March 2001

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Extending Association's Value Through Volunteerism

APEGGA Public Affairs Officer

Elaine Honsberger, P.Geoph., encourages anyone who feels passionate about an issue facing the association to volunteer. In addition to serving on APEGGA Council, the Geoscience Task Force and the Acts, Regulations & Bylaws Committee, Elaine has volunteered for the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysics and the Canadian Geoscience Council. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Elaine works as a senior geophysicist with Alberta Energy Company Ltd. in Calgary.

Has your involvement with Council and the Geoscience Task Force changed your perception of the professions?

My understanding of the diversity and value of what the three professions are doing has grown tremendously, as has my respect for the professionals I have met. My work with the Geoscience Task Force provided a way to speak with geoscientists about their perspective on APEGGA and the value of professional registration. I was impressed with the honesty and the remarkably patient approach I encountered in my fellow geoscientists - even though I know many of them were really annoyed - and their willingness to help those of us on the task force work towards making APEGGA's system a better one.

How do your volunteer experiences and work responsibilities complement each other?

Volunteering has given me the confidence to do things at work I may not have known I could do. It has provided me with endless opportunities to build my communication and leadership skills. Those can come in handy in the workplace. Most importantly, volunteering has been a way for me to give something back to the community to make the world a better place to live in.

What advice would you give to members considering volunteering with APEGGA?

If you don't like the way the organization runs, do it. If you do like the way the organization runs, do it. Either way, both APEGGA and you are going to win.

How do you spend your spare time?

I am working toward achieving a better balance between work and "spare time." I have taken up karate and running in the past year and a half, and have found the combination to be very helpful in relieving stress as well as building my personal fitness level.

After a three-year term on Council, what are the key thoughts you have come away with?

I have learnt that it is not APEGGA that makes us professionals. We either act in a professional and ethical manner or we don't. It's APEGGA's job to take us to task if, as a member, we choose to conduct ourselves in an unethical manner, if we move our professional practice beyond the limits of our skill set without upgrading our training, or if we do just plain shoddy work.

Currently, however, there are many engineers, geologists and geophysicists in Alberta who likely have the qualifications to become an APEGGA member, but who are not members for a variety of reasons. One area that has a tremendous influence on whether people register in any professional organization is the effectiveness of its registration system. A system that is too exclusive in its membership approach leaves too few people operating as qualified professionals, and makes it impossible to regulate those who are practising, but are not members. A system that is too inclusive (i.e. everyone is a member) brings no real value to anyone.

Obviously, the ultimate solution for APEGGA is to find an optimal place in between these two extremes, and I have watched many volunteers work hard to do this over the last three years. As APEGGA works to find that balance, I would like to encourage those of you who feel strongly about this and other key issues to get involved as volunteers. There are many important areas where you can make a difference, and make our organization of more value to us all.

What is your motto?

-Don't wait for someone else to make things better, make the effort yourself.

-One person can make a difference.

-The less they pay you for your work, the more they'll ask you to do.

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