How many times have you given or heard the advice “Don’t take anything for granted?” Or perhaps the admonition “Always recognize how blessed you are.” It may be age-old guidance, but yet it is also so timely. Remarkably, somehow I need to be reminded to stop and count my many blessings from time to time. Perhaps it is just human nature to get so busy that it is easy to take the important things for granted. The AASV Annual Meeting is a great time for me to reflect on what I should not take for granted.
The meeting in Phoenix was a wonderful opportunity to interact with our members, many of whom I only see once a year. The AASV has a vital, active membership and one only needs to be in the many committee meetings, educational sessions, and hallway discussions to be reminded that the strength of our organization is based in its members. My thanks go to each member who every year has a choice of organizations to which he or she will pay dues and continues to renew their AASV membership. The core of our mission has been, is now, and always will be the swine veterinarian.
Membership dues are leveraged by the many resources of time and effort that are donated to the AASV by our volunteers. These volunteers are the lifeblood of the organization. Volunteers give their time and skills in leadership positions as officers and directors. Volunteers also drive the committees of the AASV, as well as representation to other organizations and governmental agencies. Volunteers are responsible for the content of the annual meeting and the other continuing education opportunities during the year. Every aspect of the AASV has resulted and benefited from the hard work of volunteers. One lesson I have learned over my years in association management is to never underestimate the power and synergy of volunteers committed to a shared cause.
If you were at this year’s annual meeting, you had the opportunity to observe and to interact with the youth of our profession. There were 130 veterinary students participating in the meeting through presentations, posters, podcast interviews, social events, and educational sessions. The students’ participation brings vitality and strength to the annual meeting that reinforces the view that the AASV will be in good hands in the future. The efforts of the AASV and the AASV Foundation in the area of student recruitment are already paying dividends. I am convinced that these dividends will continue to increase and accrue as these students become active members of the veterinary profession.
The AASV has enjoyed many beneficial partnerships with the commercial companies that are allied to swine veterinary medicine. These companies provide support in the form of numerous sponsorships of AASV programs and member benefits. They participate in the Technical Tables and Industrial Partners sessions at the annual meeting. They donate to the AASV Foundation. These companies also employ swine veterinarians who contribute their time and efforts to the association. Unfortunately, the value of these companies to the AASV is sometimes underappreciated and taken for granted. I can state unequivocally that the AASV would not be in as good a position today without the support of the commercial companies who have so graciously shared their resources with our organization.
The advice has long been given to find a job you truly love and you will never work another day in your life. Since coming to work for the AASV, I have found that to be true. I owe this in a great part to the exceptional people on the AASV staff. Every day they give their best for the AASV and our members. Not only do they tirelessly apply their extraordinary talents, skills, and expertise to their jobs, but their dedication and commitment to the AASV are unsurpassed. The annual meeting provides our members with a brief window into what our staff accomplishes. Rest assured that what goes on behind the scenes throughout the year is the result of professionals who take pride in not only what they do, but also for whom they do it. A special thank you to each AASV member who stopped by the registration desk to say thanks to our hard-working staff! I guarantee that each kind word was taken to heart.
Finally, I cannot neglect recognizing the love and support given to me over the years by my family. My wife Sue and my kids, Kay and Joey, make it all worthwhile. The late Elizabeth Edwards summed it up well when she told her family shortly before her death, “All I ever really needed was you – your love, your presence – to make my life complete.”
-- Tom Burkgren, DVM