President's message

Scott Dee Jump on our backs!

Whew! The 2006 AASV annual meeting has finally drawn to a close. What an experience! Great attendance, a challenging program, and another stellar performance by the AASV office. Many thanks to Tom, Sue, Tracy, Karen, and Tina for all the hard work. Regarding the program, Gregg BeVier's Howard Dunne Memorial Lecture was outstanding. He gave us ideas and trends to clarify the frame of the future, along with his thoughts on essential tools we could use to invent our future. Drs Steve Pollmann, Gary Louis, and Jim Lowe then built upon Gregg's vision and gave insight into the challenges, changes, and opportunities they see forthcoming in their respective segments of the industry and in the role of the veterinarian. Finally, Dr Roy Schultz inspired us with the words of his timely Founder's Message, drawing the morning session to a successful close.

Congratulations to the award winners, particularly Angela Delks from Purdue University for her outstanding performance in the veterinary student competition. Dr Sandy Amass gets a great deal of credit for mentoring Angela, along with organizing this superb program with Dr Tom Fangman. Congratulations to Dr Cate Dewey (Meritorious Service award), Dr Jim Collins (Howard Dunne award), and my old classmate, housemate, and party mate, Dr Mark FitzSimmons (Swine Practitioner of the Year award). My favorite moment of the evening was seeing all the members of the FitzSimmons family entering the room, one after another, and the smile on Mark's face. I have a special place in my heart for the FitzSimmons family, especially Mark's dad, Mr Robert FitzSimmons. I spent many days on their farm in Good Thunder, Minnesota, learning about swine production and management and getting to know this great family.

The only bad news I received during the meeting was the passing of Kirby Puckett, the Hall-of-Fame outfielder for the Minnesota Twins. Puckett was a great talent and a true leader. I will never forget the 1991 World Series, which featured the Minnesota Twins against the Atlanta Braves. After winning the first two games, the Twins lost three straight in Atlanta. Prior to game six, spirits were down in the Minnesota clubhouse. The players had lost their confidence. Not Kirby! After assessing the situation and seeing the need for leadership, with a big smile he announced to his shaken teammates, "Jump on my back! I'll carry you today!"

The players' spirits were lifted. They knew they were not alone. Kirby truly put his money where his mouth was that night. All he did was make a game-saving catch and hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning. The Twins won the World Series, but without Puckett's leadership at a critical moment, it would not have happened. Kirby truly rose to the occasion and assisted his teammates when they were in need.

As I see it, the same goes for all of us as AASV members. We are a team, and each of you is an important member of this team with a role to play and valuable opinions to give. The ability of the AASV to function as a team will be very important as we take on the challenges of our industry and try to promote change. A perfect example is the eradication of PRRS from North America. Without a doubt, there will be numerous bumps in the road and obstacles to overcome along the way. Re-infections will occur and emotional and economical conflicts will arise as eradication attempts fall short of stated goals. Each of us will need help from the team, somewhere along the line.

Never fear, you are not alone. Members of the AASV Executive Committee, the board of directors, and those involved in all of our outstanding committees are there to help at any time. Jump on our backs! That's what we're here for. I am proud that collectively and individually, our membership has this spirit. As long as I have been associated with the AASV, members have always been willing to help each other, both in good times and in bad. Therefore, as you get back to the day-to-day challenges of swine veterinary medicine, keep the spirit of Kirby Puckett alive and never be afraid to say to a colleague in need, "Jump on my back. I'll carry you today."

Thanks for being part of the team.

-- Scott Dee