It is a great privilege and honor to run for vice president of our American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV). This is a great organization, with exceptional members who are focused on helping pigs and people. The more I become involved with AASV, the more I realize the great value this organization brings to everything we do as a profession to help and improve the health and wellbeing of swine. We are a relatively small organization, but have a tremendous impact in so many ways.
I am originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, which is the second largest city in Mexico. I am a city boy who had limited contact with livestock. My uncles have a ranch I used to visit during the summer. They had cattle and one or two sows that served to eat the waste from the farm. When it was time for college, I knew I was interested in working with livestock, so came to Iowa State University (ISU) to study animal science and then continued into veterinary medicine. My focus was cattle, not swine. I graduated from ISU with my DVM degree in 1993 and went to northwest Iowa into private practice with Valley Veterinary Center, in Cherokee. It wasn’t until I was in practice that I started to get exposure to swine medicine. The more work I did with pigs, the more I liked it. I had great mentorship and learning experiences while I was in Cherokee. I worked with all species, but with time became more specialized in swine. Then, after 10 years of practice, I realized that if I wanted to pursue my dream of teaching, I would need to leave private practice and obtain more degrees.
In 2004, I returned to ISU to work under Dr Jim Roth at the Center for Food Security and Public Health (CFSPH), while I worked toward achieving my Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of Iowa. It is not easy to leave practice and return to being a student, but this was a great experience. I learned to appreciate what it is to be a student again, an experience I have found to be of great value in helping me become better at teaching. Following my MPH, I continued to work for CFSPH while I started my PhD work. My wife Kathy was certainly “excited” about my interest in getting more letters behind my name. Dr Pat Halbur came along in 2005 and provided me an opportunity to work with Dr Locke Karriker in the Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine to help rebuild our ISU swine teaching program. Dr John Thompson (dean of the college) along with Dr Pat Halbur (department chair) had a vision, and I am very fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time. I had the privilege to work full time in the department while continuing to pursue my PhD, which I finally completed in 2011. I love my job. Why wouldn’t I? I have the privilege to work with students, do swine research, and help swine producers and veterinarians.
My involvement with AASV does not go back far. I started as a substitute judge for the student presentations at the AASV Annual Meeting. Shortly thereafter I was asked to take over as co-chair of the student oral competitions. I have also co-chaired the Collegiate Activities Committee for the past few years. I have been serving on the Journal of Swine Health and Production Editorial Board since 2010. In 2013, I had the privilege to start serving as the District 6 representative.
So why am I running for this position? Simply because I was asked. I have a passion to serve others, and when you care for an organization, you are willing to help out in any way needed. The AASV is a great organization! I know this positon requires dedication and I am committed to it. I know AASV has been moving forward in the right direction and continues to do so.
Many topics and issues in the forefront of AASV today will continue to be of importance to swine veterinarians and will have a great impact. Animal welfare, zoonoses, antibiotics usage, euthanasia, emerging and re-emerging diseases, foreign-animal and transboundary diseases, emergency preparedness, veterinary practice act, etc, are all topics that are here to stay. It is critical for AASV to continue to have a voice and be a leader within AVMA, representing our veterinary colleagues, our clients, and the general public regarding all aspects of swine health and wellbeing.
I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to continue to serve AASV.
Alejandro “Alex” Ramirez