I hope you are enjoying the holidays with family and friends. As we close out the holiday season and, with it, another year, we reflect on the events of the previous year and what we have learned from them. Those insights guide the next process, which is to prepare for the year ahead. Many people formulate New Year’s resolutions to guide their actions in the coming months. Some New Year’s resolutions are little more than transient personal goals, while others are timeless guiding principles. Recent changes in the swine industry have motivated the AASV Board of Directors (BOD) to look at the association’s guiding principles, our mission statement.
A mission statement is a statement of purpose for a business or organization. It should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision making. Until the AASV BOD meeting in September, the mission of the AASV was to “increase the knowledge of swine veterinarians.” Following this primary mission was a list of ways by which the association planned to achieve that goal, but the only true objective was to increase the knowledge of swine veterinarians. Therefore, all actions taken by staff and board members were evaluated in that context. When AASV staff and board members make decisions, we contemplate and discuss whether or not the result of the decision will help us achieve or further our mission. When the sole mission is to increase the knowledge of swine veterinarians, one must ask whether or not resources dedicated to activities such as advocating for the swine industry or enhancing national biosecurity are appropriate within that paradigm. However, on the basis of the MarketSense survey results, it is clear that our membership values these initiatives. (By the way, we had excellent participation in the survey and I’d like to thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback!)
There seemed to be a disconnect between what our mission statement was guiding us to do and what our membership thought we, as an association, should be doing. Therefore, the BOD discussed and ultimately revised the mission statement of the AASV to better capture the objectives of our organization, ensuring our purpose is appropriate in today’s environment and reflective of the needs of our members, as brought to light through the results of the MarketSense survey. As of the end of September 2014,
“[i]t is the mission of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians to
- Increase the knowledge of swine veterinarians,
- Protect and promote the health and well-being of pigs,
- Advocate science-based approaches to veterinary, industry, and public health issues,
- Promote the development and availability of resources that enhance the effectiveness of professional activities,
- Create opportunities that inspire personal and professional growth and interaction, and
- Mentor students, encouraging lifelong careers as swine veterinarians.”
This is not the first time our mission statement has been revised, and I am sure it won’t be the last. However, I do think it is well-suited to guide the organization through the foreseeable future. The changes made were not monumental; most of the alterations were in an effort to align our core activities as actual objectives, rather than to have one sole purpose through which all activities must funnel. The other significant change was the addition of our focus and commitment to the health and well-being of pigs. This commitment obviously goes without saying, as we all swore to protect animal health (and welfare) when we graduated from veterinary school, but we felt it prudent to reinforce this commitment through our mission statement. Of course, we still strive to increase the knowledge of swine veterinarians, but we acknowledge that our association can and should do so much more – and often does. Our new mission statement reflects that notion by making each of the bulleted items an equally weighted objective, rather than merely a means to an end. This aligns more closely with the current expectations of our membership and recent activities of our association.
I hope you are satisfied with the updated mission statement. It will guide our activities as the swine industry and the veterinary profession continue to evolve. We are very fortunate to have an association of “doers” who willingly contribute their time and talents to provide success to this organization. This is critical, because active participation from members is the only way the AASV is able to achieve its objectives. As you contemplate your New Year’s resolutions for 2015, consider ways in which YOU can contribute to the mission of the AASV.
Michelle Sprague AASV President