From the Executive director


What do you think of when asked about leadership? Do you think of the upcoming presidential election? Do you think of your local school board? Do you think about the officers and directors of AASV? Leadership is important in many ways to many different people. It is no surprise that leaders affect our lives.

To me, the importance of leadership is not the position or office held. It is the impact a leader makes on people, whether one at a time or in a large group. I saw a great example of leadership recently while serving as a chaperone for a group of middle and high school students attending a competition in technical skills. The teacher in charge of this group was Mr Schumacher, a longtime teacher in the Perry Community Schools. Mr Schumacher has built one of the most successful industrial arts programs in the state of Iowa. His students consistently succeed in state and national competitions.

In the short time that I was with this group of students, I could see the respect and affinity held by the students for Mr Schumacher. In talking with him, I gained a glimpse into his leadership style. First of all, every student comes into Mr Schumacher's classroom with a clean slate. He stated that he doesn't want to know what has happened in other classrooms. He forms his opinion on the basis of his, not someone else's, experience with a student. He cares more about the student's future than the restraints of his or her past.

To Mr Schumacher, the opportunity for his students to succeed is "everything." For some of his students, success in a school setting has not been a common occurrence. Yet these kids can find success with Mr Schumacher. He nurtures their interests, skills, and abilities. His teaching and mentoring open new horizons of opportunities that may never have been seen by his students. Mr Schumacher's leadership is based on the goal of equipping his students for success.

Equipping swine veterinarians for success has been the goal for the AASV since its inception 35 years ago. In my role as a member of the AASV staff for the last 10 years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to watch AASV leadership in action. Our leaders take their work seriously and with a great respect for their elected duties. They give countless hours to the association, while often putting their professional and personal responsibilities on hold. For them, leadership is a labor of love.

The AASV leaders share an abiding love for the profession and the organization. If they did not, they would not give up so much of themselves to serve the membership. They would not willingly open themselves up to the criticism and second-guessing that is sometimes directed at them, especially over controversial issues and decisions. Instead, they hold fast to the core concept of serving the common good of AASV members. In the swine industry, our leaders know that we cannot be restrained by the past. They know that old biases will work against us. They know that we should never allow others to form our opinions for us. They know that a great part of leadership is looking for those opportunities for success by both individuals and the profession.

You probably know a leader like Mr Schumacher who has had an impact on you or on the people around you. We can all learn about how to be a leader from observing these wonderful individuals in action. Their styles may not make their way into the popular view of leadership. They may never appear on the front page of the Wall Street Journal or find their way into the pages of the many popular books about leadership. The fact is that the best leaders don't leave their mark in the pages of a newspaper, a book, or even in the written minutes of an organization. The best leaders leave their mark on the lives of people.

Tom Burkgren