From the Executive Director

Building a foundation

Tom BurkgrenI was visiting with a friend of mine who happens to be a home builder. He was getting ready to start framing a new house and was lamenting the fact that the cement contractor had done a poor job in forming up the foundation. He was concerned that the poor foundation would at some time in the future have a detrimental effect on the house. His need for a strong foundation can be aptly applied to our profession and its future.

In 1989, a group of swine veterinarians met to discuss the formation of a charitable foundation. Present at this organizational meeting were Drs Gary Dial, Chuck Christenson, Roger Rankin, and Larry Rueff. Their vision for this foundation was three-fold:

  • 1. To promote and encourage the study of swine science and medicine,
  • 2. To generate and disseminate educational information to the general public regarding swine production and medicine, and
  • 3. To conduct original research in connection with such educational purposes. '

From this inspired beginning came the American Association of Swine Practitioners Foundation, later to be known as the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) Foundation. Immediately after the foundation was formed, the fund-raising activities began. As the donations came in, the funding of programming and projects began. One of the early projects was funding of the Swine Depopulation-Repopulation1 video. Later the award-winning video Pork Production: A business to be proud of 2 was produced and widely distributed.

The mission of the AASV Foundation has been modified over the years to the present mission statement:

"To empower swine veterinarians to achieve a higher level of personal and professional effectiveness by

  • Enhancing the image of the swine veterinary profession,
  • Supporting the development and scholarship of students and veterinarians interested in the swine industry,
  • Addressing long-range issues of the profession,
  • Supporting faculty and promoting excellence in the teaching of swine health and production, and
  • Funding research with direct application to the profession."

The funds raised for the foundation go to support a number of active programs in key areas of the mission. In 2005, the foundation awarded $25,000 in scholarships to veterinary students. The funding for these scholarships comes from Alpharma Animal Health and the Lilly Foundation on behalf of Elanco Animal Health. These scholarships have been instrumental in an increase in student submissions for the student seminar at the annual meeting as well as in the number of student AASV members. The competition during the student seminar is intense, and the quality of the presentations is remarkable.

The foundation provided a $100 travel stipend for student members who pre-registered and attended the 2005 Annual Meeting in Toronto. Ninety-seven enthusiastic students took advantage of this opportunity to learn and network. The foundation also has an ongoing program of financial support for senior veterinary students who take part in externships in swine practices. This program awards a grant of $200 to each participating student. The students report their experiences to the foundation. Our AASV members are doing a great job in mentoring these students.

The foundation will continue its sponsorship of a financial planning seminar at the 2006 Annual Meeting on Sunday morning and the Foundation Luncheon following the seminar. While in Kansas City, you will also see a return of both the foundation live and silent auctions. The foundation also will sponsor another golf outing next summer. The 2005 golf day was a great success in bringing together veterinarians, clients, and company representatives.

The foundation is providing financial support for research that is compatible with the mission. Two projects were selected for funding in 2005. One is the Veterinary Student Mixed Animal Recruitment Team (V-SMART) project at Iowa State University. The other is a porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome investigation at Purdue University. This is a developing area of support from the foundation. Like so many other things, the funding of research has the potential to grow as resources become available.

The key to a successful and growing program is available resources. As you can see, the foundation is active in programming, but there is so much more that can and needs to be done. There are significant parts of the mission statement that we are not accomplishing due to a lack of resources. There is tremendous potential for the foundation, but it will be accomplished only through the time, efforts, and donations of AASV members.

In the mid-1990s, the foundation leadership embarked on a different course of management for donated funds. It was then that the Leman Fellowship giving program was established to honor the memory of Dr Al Leman. The funds raised in this program were designated as endowed. As the Leman fund is an endowed fund within the foundation, the interest and gains can be spent, but not the principal. So far, over 140 AASV members have contributed to the Leman Fund, which now stands at $175,000.

In 2001, the Heritage Fund was established to provide AASV members with another avenue of giving. The donation mechanism for this fund is either a commitment of estate giving (ie, life insurance or bequeath in your will) or an outright gift of $5000. To date, there are 14 Heritage Fellows.

In 2004, the AASV transferred the Howard Dunne Memorial Fund to the AASV Foundation. This fund was established in the 1970s to provide ongoing financial support for the Dunne Lecture at the AASV annual meeting. This is also an endowed fund that now stands at $66,000.

All three of the endowed funds are open for further giving. Each provides resources for achieving the mission of the foundation while preserving the original gift. Due to the vision of the originators of the foundation, AASV members have a solid "foundation" on which to build. It is entirely up to us to continue building up and beyond the ground level of support already established. The endowed funds will provide funds to continue what has been started, but future program enhancements and developments will not be possible without sustaining some level of ongoing giving.

Over the years, a number of AASV members have provided donations of leadership, money, time, and efforts for the foundation. Each and every donation counts. Thanks go out to everyone who has helped the foundation over the past 15 years. Now let's see what we can build on the "foundation" we've been given.


1. Swine Depopulation-Repopulation: A Satellite Videoconference [videotape]. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Extension; 1992. Sponsored by the American Association of Swine Practitioners.

2. Pork production: A Business to be Proud of [videotape]. American Association of Swine Practitioners; 1994.

-- Tom Burkgren