Vice-presidential candidate
Tara Donovan

I am honored by the nomination for vice-president of the AASV. The AASV has provided me with educational opportunities and professional development, unparalleled mentorship, networking outlets, and personal development. I am very excited and eager to serve the association as vice-president.

I grew up in Central Nebraska on a diversified farm where my love for animals and farming was born and cultivated. I was involved in 4-H and FFA and appreciate now what both of those organizations gave me in terms of personal development and leadership. I received my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, graduated from Kansas State Veterinary College in 1998, and completed an internship in food-animal medicine at K-State in 1999.

I have worked for The HANOR Company for 10 years and have an immeasurable amount of respect for our management team. My role has evolved from traditional veterinary service to integration with production, research, and development, as well as the financial and economic side of our business. I have spoken at producer-veterinary meetings about my experiences in management and control of disease in several venues both in the United States and internationally. These exchanges have been invaluable in my development to think globally about pig and pork production.

My most rewarding accomplishment is my family. My husband, Dirk, who is also a veterinarian, and my two children, Gus (7) and Tekla (4), never fail to give me the support to keep going and to remind me of what is most important in life.

As a member of the AASV, I have been a committee member, chair of the Human Health and Safety Committee, and recently part of the Influenza Working Group. I have also been a member of the NPPC Antibiotic Working Group, a participant in several working groups for the National Pork Board, an advisor for various technical companies, and recently, a 2009 graduate of the Executive Veterinary Program (EVP).

Key emphasis areas I would focus on as an officer of the AASV:

Providing educational opportunities. The annual AASV meeting is the main educational opportunity swine veterinarians rely on for gaining knowledge for their business. We need to ensure that attendance at the meeting is convenient and enticing to as many members as possible, and that it contains the relevant information needed for continuing education. The AASV e-letter was undeniably a very important source of information during the recent H1N1 influenza issue. We need to continue to focus on improving and utilizing new information-technology resources to provide members with quick, concise, up-to-date information.

Education, training, and promotion of animal welfare and animal husbandry. Swine veterinarians are the key influencers for producers in the area of pig welfare. We need to be clear in our recommendations regarding proper pig care and then promote those recommendations with pride and confidence to our producers, our communities, and the consumers who buy our pork. Animal welfare is an emotional topic with a wide range of opinions; however, our animal-care code of conduct is black-and-white. I appreciate how this attribute has matured into a passion for promoting animal well-being on our farms. I am a pig producer, a mother, a consumer, and a swine veterinarian; compassion for animals is truly what symbolizes our profession.

Providing education and awareness to support prudent antibiotic use. We must continue to provide facts supporting the need for antibiotics, recommend and police the judicious use of antibiotics, and be leaders in the promotion of and education surrounding the use of antibiotics in pig production. Our recommendations need to be clear and consistent on the farm, and the promotion of our practices must be trustworthy and true.

Continuing to provide leadership in disease surveillance and prevention. With the recent H1N1 influenza epidemic, this area of emphasis cannot be left out. Swine veterinarians are on the front line protecting the US swine herds from disease. We need to continue to cooperate with government health organizations to ensure surveillance and protection of swine herds for the safety of our pork products, as well as support for US pork in domestic and export markets.

Mentoring students to embrace swine veterinary medicine as a career choice. Students are our future, so we need to nurture them, mentor them, and learn from them. The AASV has matured in the area of student support with scholarships and awards, as well as opportunities for students to learn through internships and support networks. Having a student intern accompany you on a farm visit will sharpen your mind – they ask tough questions and challenge our routines. Their enthusiasm for veterinary medicine is refreshing. I encourage development of a program for novice practitioners: a Webinar-based EVP type program. We need to keep these talented young leaders in our industry.

Thank you for taking the time to read my message, and for caring about our organization by voting. I sincerely appreciate your support.

-- Tara Donovan