President’s message

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them”

The 39th AASV Annual Meeting is now in the record books. The San Diego meeting set near records for student and foreign attendees plus records for the furthest distance from the Midwest and totals for the AASV Foundation auction. Also of note, Swine Practitioner of the Year was awarded for the first time to one of our women members. Congratulations to the much-deserving Lisa Tokach. The hotel convention-site room rate also set a record, but in my opinion, the setting and meeting were worth it! How could we have had a more beautiful location or more wonderful sunshine?

Exchange of ideas was again the hallmark. If you were not present to hear Tim Loula’s Howard Dunne Lecture, “Use your strengths to stay in the game,” you missed a landmark impacting experience. Mike Terrill’s “A view from inside a branded food company,” the Alex Hogg Lecture, provided a road map and a challenge for members to pursue new roles under the swine veterinarian’s expanded umbrella where we can also excel and make a difference. While the program added both content and stimulus for deeper understanding and thinking, real learning took place in the hallways and at the breakfast before and the social events after the planned sessions.

Sessions and discussions at the meeting reminded me of this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” To be able to be open in discussion, explore ideas, challenge old perceptions, and advance knowledge, trust is critical. Often the freedom to share the “stupid” ideas or ask the “ignorant” questions is the catalyst for paradigm shifts and leap-frog movement down the path of progress. Life is not a sprint or a marathon but more like a relay. Each person’s knowledge adds to the stack, and without the freedom to share, progress is delayed. Trust remains one of the swine veterinarian’s true strengths. The pillars of trust, leadership, integrity, and caring for people are solid amongst our members.

Swine veterinarians daily provide leadership to their clients and the food industry. Dr Bruce Lamb in his 2005 Lew Runnel’s Lecture1 quantified how veterinarians were leading community leaders in church, school, extension, athletics, service, and financial organizations. In my travels, I observe how the local veterinarian is the influential leader in his locale, assuming the responsibility to provide the vision and get things done. At San Diego, the board meeting was delayed until Tuesday afternoon for the first time, allowing the AASV committees time to meet on Saturday morning. Much of the real work gets done through these committees. Leadership is part of our members’ DNA.

National surveys agree with my belief that as a whole, vets score high on the integrity meter (confirmed in the “Pigs, Politics, Public Health, and Pet food” seminar). This trait is critical to our future impact. We can never be too honest. Greg Hammer, AVMA president, challenged us to speak out and carry our story to the public, as we are credible and have the responsibility to educate the public as the true animal-care experts. I was very encouraged hearing his voiced allegiance to the goals of the AASV. We must deepen relationships with allied groups and then stay alert to make sure the deeds match the words.

Caring for people is demonstrated by AASV members’ attention to students, active mentoring of younger members, and through recognizing successful colleagues and their families. Members are always willing to provide help when asked, and encourage and truly care when life throws its curves. Compassion was illustrated by the activities surrounding the foundation auction, as the top-selling quilt was donated back to the quilter, giving the AASV another chance to honor a great person and veterinarian, Bernie Curran, and his family. Our 2008 Howard Dunne awardee, Greg Stevenson, expressed in words and actions his compassion for college youth with his faith to embrace a radical career move to full-time ministry.

Thanks to the members for being who they are and to all who helped make the 2008 meeting a success. Offer a word of appreciation to those who served on the planning committee. Special thanks go to Dr Sue Schulteis for her dedication to the meeting and AASV.

I am significantly biased when critiquing the San Diego meeting. Please offer suggestions for improvement to me, Tom, or Butch (2009 program chair) now, while the meeting is fresh in our minds, as we work to make the best better in Dallas. I’m sure it will be an Extra Large Event (XL).

AASV members have trust with each other. There is a bond and feeling of friendship. Michael Bolton, the AABP president who attended our meeting, commented about the passion and compassion evident at our meeting. He observed passion for our clients, our industry, and our organization, and compassion for each other and the pig. Let’s never lose these unique traits and the AASV culture.

In the presence of many friends within the AASV, I have had the freedom to be stupid and learn much and be challenged to be a better person. Thank you. I am proud to be a swine veterinarian.


1. Lamb B. Value-added veterinarians in rural Indiana. Lew Runnel’s Lecture. Annual Fall Conference for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians. West Lafayette, Indiana. 2005.

-- Kerry Keffaber, DVM