I would like to thank those who nominated me for this position. I feel that serving as an officer would be an opportunity to give back to an organization that has been so important in my professional and personal life. The knowledge I have gained from the AASV has built the foundation that has allowed me to be successful in providing my clientele with the most current information and technologies available. My wife Andrea and I have met many dear friends over the years and always look forward to AASV meetings and rekindling our friendships and meeting new faces.
The evening I graduated from Purdue veterinary school in 1981, Kerry and Betsy Keffaber and I piled in their car and headed to our very first AASV meeting in Kansas City. I have never forgotten the friendly welcome we received as we were greeted by the AASV membership. Meeting the leaders of swine veterinary medicine and interacting with them was an inspiration that has guided my career in swine veterinary medicine.
I grew up on a small grain and livestock farm in southwestern Indiana. Following graduation from Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, I returned to that area to work in a mixed-animal practice which had a strong swine base. Three years later, I decided I wanted to live and work in my home county, so opened my own mixed-animal practice and continued to focus on swine medicine. During the 1980s, many new advances in swine medicine and vaccines for piliated Escherichia coli, parvovirus, and Mycoplasma pneumonia allowed me to introduce our clients to preventative swine herd-health medicine. This has been the passion of my career.
I have had the opportunity to work with many excellent swine producers and feel we have taught each other a lot about raising hogs. I enjoy the thrill and challenge of posting hogs, identifying diseases, and recommending preventative steps to control harm of the other pigs and minimize the economic impact for my clients.
Outside of my career, my other passion is centered on my family. My wife of 34 years, Andrea (aka Andy), is an obstetrical nurse manager at a freestanding women’s hospital. She had the unique opportunity of being involved in planning, designing, and opening the brand new facility in 2001. As a manager, she has helped me to recognize the importance of being customer focused and listening carefully to clients to keep them engaged and returning to my veterinary practice. We have two adult children, a son and daughter, who were raised on the same family farm I grew up on. Jordan graduated from Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010 and works at my practice. Natalie is a junior veterinary student at Purdue, and intends to specialize in swine medicine. She has attended several AASV meetings as a student, which sparked her interest in participating in the student poster competition at the last two annual meetings. Besides inspiring my own children to become veterinarians, I am very proud that I currently have three former employees attending veterinary schools at Purdue and Iowa State.
I have had the pleasure of serving on the AASV Board of Directors, representing District 4. I have also participated in the Human Health and Operation Main Street Committees and the AASV Foundation Auction Committee. I attended the Executive Veterinary Program in Swine Health Management as part of the class of “Pride of 95.” More recently, I was blessed to receive the AASV “Swine Practitioner of the Year Award” in 2011.
I believe the AASV needs to continue to provide cutting-edge educational information and opportunities to the veterinary profession. We need to ensure that we provide all of our members the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills they need to remain valuable to their clientele. Supporting an environment for private practitioners to provide service to the swine industry is critical.
It is also important to reach out to veterinary students. Our organization is recognized as student friendly and our membership is the reason. It is important for our association to engage all veterinary students, as they will be the future leaders of all aspects of veterinary medicine. These relationships and their understanding of the industry will provide the students with desire and opportunity to accurately inform and influence those they interact with far beyond the reach of the AASV membership. Early interactions will lead to alliances that will be instrumental as we address the challenges our industry faces.
The AASV has an important responsibility to keep its membership informed of human-health and safety hazards that will be encountered in practice, as well as to prepare them to be a resource for their clients and community facing health concerns involving our industry.
We must present veterinarians and producers as animal “care givers” who believe in animal welfare, as is demonstrated by their commitment to working with pigs as a career. Often, individuals working in swine facilities do not have the time or the avenue to communicate to the public about what they do and the animals they care for. Yet they are the ones who truly understand animal behavior and find enjoyment working with these intelligent, amazing, and funny animals.
The accomplishments of the AASV are due to the contributions of its membership. Therefore, we must continue to be the voice of support and provide opportunities in which our members can succeed.
John E. Baker