Straight Talk
The “I” in “Involvement”

Every organization is composed of individual members who make the organization what it is and what it will be in the years to follow. Knowing that, the AASV continues to encourage membership involvement, and there’s no better way to become involved in the AASV than to join a committee.

Whether you are a new graduate or seasoned veterinarian, in private practice or industry, there’s a range of committees from which to choose. Below are comments from members who are active in AASV committees. Read about their experiences and then go online and pick out a committee that you’d like to join!

From Ginger Pelger

“I am a member of the Pharmaceutical Issues (PI) committee. I was recruited into the committee by Dr Angela Baysinger. Prior to joining, I really didn’t know what committees were present or how to get involved. I like the PI committee because it not only keeps me informed about an industry that I am a part of, it also gives me perspective from listening to the other members (we have other industry, private practice, and corporate practice represented). The committee is also involved with larger issues and direction of swine veterinarians that I would not be involved in otherwise. It has also given me insight into how AASV works and introduced me to more members.”

From Brian Payne

“Previously, I was a member of the Student Recruitment Committee (SRC). I am transitioning into working with the Professional Development Committee (PDC). I felt SRC was a great committee to become more active in AASV. It is a committee that allows younger members to be in contact with student and future AASV members or both. As young veterinarians, we may have more insight into what the students are looking for from AASV. Many of the AASV members are the reason I chose swine medicine as my career. Members of SRC have the chance to draw new talent towards our industry. When my term with SRC was fulfilled, I had the opportunity to join PDC. There are many projects that are similar to the SRC, except these are developed for the current full AASV members.

I highly recommend the SRC as a starting committee. It’s been a great experience. As a committee member, I’ve learned more about the organization and got to interact with many great veterinarians that I may not otherwise work with during my work day.

Just because you are not asked to be on a committee does not mean that you would not be a good member. If you have the desire to help AASV and want to become more active in the organization, find a committee that you would like to join. Go to and review the committees and their activities.”

From Morgan Morrow

“The Communications Committee has been a wonderful experience for me. The opportunity to help take AASV communications into the electronic era has been stimulating, challenging, and tremendously rewarding. Our mission is ‘To guide the development of methods for communicating with all members of the AASV both actively (eg, e-Letter) and passively (eg, the Web), including providing electronic resources such as the photographic library.’ What fun we’ve had! Over the years, all the committee members have contributed to this effort and all have brought their own skills and understandings of the needs of our members. Our most recent venture, AASV-L, came as a request from a member who thought we should have a venue to discuss, amongst ourselves, topics that should not be in the public domain. Once again our Webmaster and all-round electronics wiz Dave Brown seized the opportunity and set up the system. Yes, we had teething problems, but as recent AASV-L discussions have demonstrated, we now have a very effective and educational tool available to all members. Members have been able to pose puzzling cases and educated all by the ensuing discussion. The communications committee is always welcoming new members and the fresh ideas they bring. Members of AASV can view the agenda and minutes from our meetings at Also on the Web, you should visit the image library, videos, and student podcasts.”

From John Waddell

“I have served on a number of committees within AASV. One of the most impactful for me is the Pharmaceutical Issues Committee. It was first known as the Pharmaceutical Availability Committee, as the battle for availability of new antimicrobials came to the fore as an important issue for AASV members. This committee has struggled with many important issues, such as AMDUCA, fluoroquinolones, Veterinary Feed Directive, Judicious Use Principles and Guidelines, and, most recently, restrictive legislation calling for use bans on whole classes of antimicrobials. Committee involvement usually leads to other opportunities to become embroiled in certain issues on a wider scale. The work within AASV committees is the bedrock of our organization, and those committees are made up primarily of members who have a special interest or passion for a particular issue. My advice: Don’t wait to be asked to join a committee, volunteer, early and often! It will pay dividends for both you and our association!”

From Harold Tilstra

“I’m a veterinarian working at a large feed company. Being on the AASV Nutrition Committee provides a nice opportunity to be involved in AASV in a way that makes use of my experience. I enjoy the opportunity to meet with others who share common interest in medicine and nutrition. I strongly encourage AASV members to become a part of one of the organization’s committees.”

From Lisa Tokach

“I am currently a member of the Swine Welfare Committee (SWC). I frequently ask myself why I joined this committee, especially when I’m up against a deadline or have scheduling conflicts. Oddly enough, this is my second round on this AASV committee. I have previously served on the Public Relations Committee, which led me to serving on the AASV Foundation when it first started (this really dates me). As the treasurer for the foundation, I quickly realized that there were many in the organization far better at collecting money and growing it than me, so we talked Dr Connie Schmidt into taking charge and the foundation has gone great guns ever since. I moved on to my first round with the SWC, where our charge was to produce a document on euthanasia of pigs. With a great deal of help from Dr Paul Sundberg and the National Pork Board, we managed to publish the first edition of ‘On-Farm Euthanasia of Swine.’ Afterward, I was asked to breathe some life into the Human Health Committee. I again realized that many in the organization were far more knowledgeable than me, so I talked Dr Rika Jolie into taking it over, and it has done great work ever since. After that, I moved into AASV Executive Board and learned that there are many awesome people in our organization in addition to the incredible Drs Tom Burkgren and Sue Schulteis, who did their best to keep me afloat during that little 4-year stint. During that time, I was assigned to the Budget, Nominations, Awards, and Reserve Fund Management Committees, along with the new Student Recruitment Committee. It didn’t take me long to find the very enthusiastic talents of Dr Sarah Probst Miller to take over with student recruitment and really get that committee rolling! Finally, with sow gestation-housing issues heating up, I was asked to return to the SWC, where I served on the AVMA Task Force for Pregnant Sow Housing and now serve as the AASV representative to the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Committee. The SWC has since worked with NPB to produce the second edition of ‘On-Farm Euthanasia of Swine,’ and we currently operate under the expert leadership of Dr Jer Geiger.

Even though I have been somewhat of a wanderlust through various AASV committees, I know that I have always come away taking home more knowledge than I feel that I have ever put in. It is always a positive learning experience and I am always grateful for the MANY opportunities AASV has afforded me. Committee work is just a small way to attempt to pay that back. There is a great deal of work being done on our behalf by AASV, and if you are wondering who is doing it, just look around. If you are interested in getting involved, I strongly recommend it.”

From Mitch Christensen

“I am currently a member of the AASV Student Recruitment Committee. After graduation, I knew I wanted to get involved with AASV, and when the opportunity to join the Student Recruitment Committee came up, I knew it would be a great way to serve. Throughout veterinary school, AASV did an excellent job connecting with students and I wanted to be a part of continuing that outreach. I have not been a member of the committee very long, but the experience has been great. The committee is very active and it has been enjoyable seeing the different things being done to reach the next group of swine veterinarians.”

-- Tracy Ann Raef

For more information about AASV committees, potential committee members are encouraged to contact Harry Snelson to learn more. His e-mail address is