President-elect’s message

Darryl Olson AASV: A one-hundred-sixty-dollar cover charge?

When my oldest daughter, Erika, enrolled at the University of Nebraska, I had to work through the disappointment of an Iowa State graduate watching his daughter in Husker Red. By the time my youngest daughter Dena followed her sister to Nebraska 3 years later, I had started to enjoy the trips to Lincoln. But when both daughters became actively involved in the Chi Omega sorority, my conservative agricultural background resurfaced. I had always looked at the Greek system as a couple-thousand-dollar cover charge. I was soon proved wrong.

Although my wife and I worked extremely hard to raise two daughters with manners, values, and morals that would be an asset to our society, they did benefit from their sorority experience. In the sorority, our girls have met some of the finest friends they will ever meet. They have made lifelong friends and developed relationships that have helped define what type of people they are today. Chi Omega taught them how to be involved in an organization that is bigger than any of the individual members. They were taught the importance of accountability to their friends and to an organization. They understand how to volunteer their time and energy to an organization that they believe in. They also were taught the value of always saying “thank you.” Their housemother told them that you could never underestimate the importance and power of telling someone “thank you.” I have received notes and cards from my daughters that I still keep today, notes thanking me for everything from gifts to just being their dad. They are quick to remember when someone is good to them.

I look at my daughters’ experience in a college sorority as extremely similar to most veterinarians’ experience, and certainly to my experience, in the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV). In college, a sorority has the advantage of taking girls with similar interests and bringing them together in one house. As a veterinarian, I could get lost in the sea of over 75,000 member veterinarians of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), but my involvement in AASV has enabled me to work with a much smaller group of veterinarians with like interests. Having just attended the AVMA Leadership Conference, I realize more than ever the importance of belonging to both the AASV and the AVMA. Although the AVMA is an important voice for the veterinary profession, most veterinarians have little to no understanding of the swine industry and the veterinarians who serve that industry. The AASV acts as an essential spokesperson for our industry within the veterinary world. Issues that my clients deal with every day are issues that other members of AASV deal with every day. PRRS, PCVAD, influenza, swine welfare, ethanol, and a host of other issues consume my life. The good news is that these issues also consume the lives of all the other members of AASV. Maybe there is comfort in knowing I am not suffering alone.

Most swine veterinarians can attest to the strong friendships that have been established with other members of AASV. I personally look forward to every AASV meeting – not only for the scientific merit, but also for the opportunity to spend time with some of my closest friends. Through this organization, I have developed lifelong friends who have made a big difference in my life. Take the time to examine how many friends you have within the swine veterinary profession and notice whether those relationships have been fostered by your membership in AASV.

The swine industry and our profession have many key issues that will be affecting our ability to conduct business in the future. As we evaluate the role of AASV, we must remember our core competency and our mission statement.

There is huge strength in numbers. Together, as an association, we can accomplish these goals much more easily than could each veterinarian individually.

Accountability to our profession and our producers is essential. Al Leman’s challenge “Would you hire you?” echoes in my conscience often. Does membership in AASV assist you in fulfilling your accountability to the profession and your clients?

Although my girls put me to shame when it comes to thanking people, don’t think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. More than ever, I understand the importance of thanking people. First, I need to thank all of the members of AASV for allowing me to serve as your president in 2007. I am extremely excited about representing AASV in the upcoming year. I especially need to thank every member of the 2007 Planning Committee. This group of veterinarians worked diligently to plan an annual meeting providing educational information that applies to every member. Thank you to Drs Dee, Keffaber, and Gillespie for your guidance, help, and friendship and to the entire board of directors for their commitment. Finally, how do you thank the fantastic staff of AASV? Drs Burkgren, Schulteis, and Snelson continue to make AASV the organization that it is today.

As I evaluate the value of all of the checks that I wrote to Chi Omega, I realize that my girls are better people for their involvement in the sorority. Their involvement was certainly more than a couple-thousand-dollar cover charge. So when you write your $160 membership check to AASV every year, you have to be amazed by how much you get for such an inexpensive cover charge.

--Daryl Olsen