President-elect's message

Leadership, application, and the basics

"And David shepherded them with integrity of heart..."
Psalm 78:72

Tom GillespieAs I reflect on the upcoming year as president of this wonderful and diverse organization, I think about some of the first steps I took as a young veterinarian. These steps varied in importance and, in some cases, were influenced by mentors in our association. For example, as a young veterinarian, do you remember discussing a concern you had with a long-standing member of this organization? I remember as though it were yesterday how Bernie Curran imparted his experience to me. Thanks, Bernie, for the time you took to listen! Mentoring is one person empowering another by sharing God-given resources.

Please take a moment as you read this to reflect on your first call as a veterinarian. For me, that first call occurred on a small hillside in western Illinois on a warm sunny day in May. A black white-faced cow had "parked" along side a busy highway to calve. What I remember most clearly about delivering the calf is the honking of passing cars and trucks as their drivers observed the whole process.

Another major step was moving from a mixed-animal practice to a swine-specific practice. I visited with several members about their experiences and took advice on pitfalls that may occur. As I began this new journey, I learned just how change will cause one to be amazingly creative. It seems change was a major constant in our profession in those days, and the same is true today.

Each of us has experienced inspiration from a colleague to go places we would never go on our own, and attempt things we never thought we could do. One legacy of AASV is the way mentors and influencers have impressed upon us knowledge that shaped our thinking and, in some cases, our careers. To borrow a phrase from Hans Finzel's book1 entitled The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, leadership is I-n-f-l-u-e-n-c-e. Most corporate CEOs today have neither been formally trained nor had good role models on which to pattern their leadership skills. In some cases, the mistakes continue to be passed along as leadership roles change over time in a corporation. The AASV has been blessed with good leaders and influencers, which in turn has strengthened the role of this organization. This is where "applying the basics" really counts.

One concern of the future for each of us is to maintain a constant and methodical improvement of sound scientific knowledge. This is essential, as health challenges arise in an environment of restricting "tools" that we have comfortably used in the past. It will require an ongoing willingness to share and influence others about successes where alternative technologies are discovered. Again, I find AASV refreshing when a maverick idea is first presented. The idea or technology is discussed and dissected numerous times. Ideas have generated and will again generate and force the need for additional research by practitioners and companies for better control and prevention technologies.

Application is about "us" and is certainly no less challenging today than before. The issues that need attention are real and demanding of time and energy. There are numerous issues, but prioritizing is vital to conquering what can be done. I could go on about the issues staring at us every day, but suffice it to say, we have opportunities everywhere. Each of us can make a difference in this ever-changing profession. I invite everyone to take a moment to communicate with me your vision of the future of AASV and its mission.

What a difference a year makes! As I write this, the swine industry is experiencing amazing profits that are rewarding and encouraging to all. This should be a nice springboard for all to attend our annual meeting in the beautiful international city of Toronto. Our program is designed to challenge each of us to be more creative in our thinking. Examples of how "leaders" have influenced others will be presented as a reminder that each of us is a leader to someone around us. The privilege of leadership is a high calling and an adventure! I look forward to serving you and this organization to the best of my ability.

See you in Toronto!


1. Finzel H. The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Cook Communications Ministries. 2000.

-- Tom Gillespie