President's message

Bits and pieces

Tom GillespieHe who refreshes others will be refreshed.
--Proverbs 11:25

As I write this message, fall season is in full swing! The weather is cooling, the leaves are turning, harvest is going quite well, and the college and NFL football clubs are already several weeks into their annual treks to see who is the best. It is a time to be thankful for many blessings, and my wish is that all of you were able to relax and enjoy family and friend activities over the recent holidays. It is always interesting to reflect on the past year's activities and ponder the major events in one's life.

The fall board meeting for AASV has just been completed, and I must say that this organization has an abundance of leaders. Nearly all of the directors were able to attend this year's meeting, which was vital to deal with the many issues our organization is currently facing. Although our AASV leaders come from many backgrounds, they are all swine practitioners. Their leadership qualities were most apparent in the way they discussed and analysed the issues. It was a joy to spend 2 days with this group that represents each and every one of you so well.

Swine veterinarians "love" to learn. When you couple this passion to learn with an industry that continues to change rapidly, uncomfortable situations are turned into successful outcomes. What I observed around the table at the fall meeting reminded me of a book I read long ago. The book, entitled Flight of the Buffalo,1 described a paradigm shift that had to take place in corporate America. The shift dealt mainly with transferring power to a company's employees and away from the chief executive officers. Leadership style in the early 1990s was to plan, organize, command, coordinate, and control. In the new paradigm, employees are empowered and encouraged to accomplish what is best for the team. Your directors, without naming each and every one of them, pondered and discussed each major point with thoroughness and often with vision for what must happen to make AASV successful.

The annual topic of membership was again discussed. It has become increasingly important to understand why members choose to leave AASV. During the meeting, Drs Daryl Olsen and Pat Halbur agreed to survey mixed-animal practitioners in District 6 (Iowa) to better understand why a person would discontinue his or her membership. The goal is to learn what member benefits might encourage people to remain members, especially those who are still treating swine.

Another topic discussed was the financial viability of our organization. Membership and our annual meeting are by far the major profit centers. The Toronto meeting was again profitable, although it was an expensive meeting for many reasons. Attendance by members and international veterinarians was outstanding, which shows that current topics and the right location are major factors to consider. I am glad that our organization is financially healthy and that our reserves are being well managed!

Recent activities by the directors and committee chairpersons should be noted as well. Just a few examples will be mentioned, but this is not a complete list of what has been happening lately. Dr Harry Snelson's influence can be noticed in the e-Letter's prompt and concise topics. Designating our resources in hiring Harry to focus on this aspect of communication will serve AASV membership by keeping us knowledgeable on numerous topics. "PAACO" (Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization) will become a more familiar acronym to us as the issue of audits in swine units becomes a necessity. The issue of "communicating" to consumers just how concerned our clients are on the daily aspects of production begins with us. Welfare is an all-encompassing concern, as I mentioned in my last message. On a separate note, Chairperson Dr Ginger Pelger and the committee members of the Pharmaceutical Issues Committee have been extremely busy working on antibiotic issues. Global activity on classification of antibiotics and restrictive use continues to be a major concern for swine veterinarians in the United States.

I am confident as AASV president that the leadership we have in place will carry us well into the future as an organization. By the time you read this, we will be in a new year of beginnings and cherished memories. Outside, the temperatures have dropped (for us in the Midwest) and the snow will be falling. All of nature is at peace. This is the month to dream and to look forward to the year ahead and the journey it presents. Let us welcome the year full of anticipation of things that will take place. Until my final writing ...


1. Belasco JA, Stayer RC. Flight of the Buffalo: Soaring to Excellence, Learning to Let Employees Lead. New York, New York: Warner Books Inc; 1993.

Tom Gillespie