It is an extreme honor to be asked to be a candidate for vice president of the AASV. I have been a member of the AASV since graduating from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1985. The AASV has been and continues to be an integral part of my life and practice of veterinary medicine. I am excited about the opportunity to give back to an organization that has given so much to me.
Swine medicine was not my original career choice in veterinary medicine. I was raised on a cow-calf farm in western North Carolina. During veterinary school, I was heavily influenced toward bovine herd health by Dr Ben Harrington and had a strong desire to practice bovine medicine. But a couple of young clinicians named Dr Harvey Hilley and Dr Gary Dial planted a seed of interest in swine medicine. Their enthusiasm and passion for swine medicine had an impact on me.
This seed was further cultivated by my employer and mentor, Dr Charles Randall. He took me to my first AASV meeting in 1986. That meeting inspired me with the closeness of this organization and the friendliness of the people. I spent the next 9 years in mixed practice. My time and focus was increasingly on swine medicine. I began a swine-only practice in 1995 and have enjoyed every day.
During this time, my wife Beth and I have raised two children: Garrett, a freshman at North Carolina State, and Colleen, a sophomore in high school. We have tried to become an integral part of the Kinston community. I was a Lions Club member for 15 years and Beth and I are now advisors to the North Carolina Junior Angus Association. We attend St Mary’s Episcopal Church.
I believe in the need for organized veterinary medicine. I served on the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association (NCVMA) Board of Directors for 6 years and as an officer for 4 years, completing my service as president in 1999. I am currently fulfilling my second term on the AASV Board of Directors. Veterinary organizations such as the NCVMA, AASV, and the AVMA give veterinarians a unified voice to the public and to the politicians. We as swine veterinarians need to be involved in our state and national veterinary associations. The voice of the food-animal veterinarian needs to be heard from within these organizations as well as from the AASV.
The AASV has been interwoven in my professional career. The annual meeting has been and continues to be my main source of continuing education. It is here that I have met and interacted with many people who have become friends, role models, and mentors. I have also had the opportunity to meet and mentor younger veterinarians and learn from them as well.
My goals as an officer include the following:
To be sure that the AASV continues as the primary source of information and training for our members. The annual meeting, JSHAP, the e-Letter, and the summer conference are all excellent ways to stay in touch with the current events of our industry. We must provide our members with the information and training to be the leaders on issues and diseases that face the swine industry.
Work to recruit new members and also to retain current members by making them aware of the tremendous benefits of the AASV. We have to market our association to new veterinarians and other food-animal veterinarians to show them the value of AASV membership. The AASV staff is unequaled in their abilities and the service they provide the members. We are in a global economy, and many of our disease issues are global. I would like to encourage international members in our organization. They are vital to our future and our success.
Encourage current veterinary students to consider food-animal medicine. This is the future of our profession: they need to be made welcome. The AASV has been a leader in these efforts, and we must continue to recruit students to food-animal medicine to avoid having a shortage of practictitioners doing research in the food-animal area.
Work with the AASV Foundation to raise money for research projects important to our industry and outreach to students. The AASV Foundation is starting to hit its stride and become a very important resource to our members and association.
Promote an awareness of animal welfare and work with the allied groups to be proactive in this area. This is a current topic and one that will continue to be a hot topic. We have to work with the swine industry, research institutions, and politicians to be sure we do what is right for all parties concerned.
My vision for the AASV is that this organization would evolve along with the food-animal industry to provide the United States and the world with a safe and plentiful food supply. This will require us to utilize technology to produce more with less. It will also require us to address concerns that the consumer has about animal welfare, antibiotic resistance, and environmental issues.
Veterinarians must be leaders in these efforts. We must promote science-based solutions to emotional people. This will require research, education, and training to bring about the changes needed. I have no doubt that the AASV and its members are up to this challenge. It is my desire to help provide leadership to make this vision a reality.
Thank you for taking time to read this letter and for caring enough to vote and support your organization.