I always look forward to the AASV Annual Meeting. Of course it is a lot of work, both in preparation and during the meeting. As I get older, it seems that I feel the wear and tear on my body much more acutely. Still, it has always been and I expect will always be very rewarding to me to see so many AASV members and others in attendance at the meeting. It is akin to a family reunion with a thousand people who share much in common, including a desire to get together once a year.
The educational aspect of the annual meeting is designed to specifically benefit those who work in the areas of swine health, welfare, and production. The shared goal of each year’s meeting is taken directly from our mission statement: increasing the knowledge of swine veterinarians. Each year the members of the program planning committee lend their individual knowledge and experience to the planning process. The process then melds the committee together in a synergistic manner to come up with a cohesive and educational program. This essentially occurs in one day-long meeting.
The program planning committee usually follows a predictable path as they plan the educational seminars and sessions. Their first thought is typically “How do we ever get our arms around all of the ideas for topics and speakers?” It becomes quite a balancing act as the discussions intensify and the committee focuses in on fitting more than 170 presentations into the 4 days of the meeting. By the end of the day they are thinking “Wow! I can’t believe we accomplished all of this in one day! Man, am I tired!” It is a worthy process with which to be involved. I hope that as many AASV members as possible have the opportunity to serve on a program planning committee at least once in their careers.
If the educational aspect of the meeting is not enough in itself, then you have to also consider the social aspect of the meeting. Veterinary medicine can sometimes be rather solitary, with limited contact with other veterinarians. The meeting brings together about 40% of our members in one place. Whether talking business or bringing each other up to date on families and hobbies, the hallway is abuzz with discussions. Some of these conversations only happen once a year at our meeting. This is an important venue for our members to connect and stay in touch. One challenge at the meeting is getting attendees back into session after the coffee breaks due to the great conversations that are occurring.
There are also other organized social events for attendees to enjoy, including a reception on Saturday evening, two receptions on Sunday evening, and the Monday luncheon and awards reception. These are financially supported by the industry’s commercial companies. Each of these companies is a key partner with AASV. Sponsors of the social events include PIC International, Pfizer Animal Health, Merck Animal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc, and Elanco Animal Health. Their support allows AASV to keep the meeting registration fees reasonable so that the meeting remains a great value. This support compliments the investment of our attendees’ time and money to attend the meeting.
The Monday awards reception is a special evening for recognizing those who have excelled in the eyes and judgment of their peers. This year we had the opportunity to remember an award winner who was taken from us much too early in his career. Dr Brad Gramm was posthumously named the AASV Technical Services Veterinarian of the Year. Brad’s wife LuAnn and his children Alec, Ashlyn, and Reid were present to witness how much Brad meant to the AASV. The video prepared by his family and shown during the ceremony was a testimony to Brad and his love for his family and friends. There were not many dry eyes in the audience during this portion of the evening. It was a reminder for us all to get our priorities straight.
Monday evening was also an opportunity for attendees to give back to the AASV Foundation through their contributions and bidding at the silent and live auctions. Once again Dr Warren Wilson and his committee came through with an impressive lineup of items. The wide offering provided items in every price range, allowing everyone to participate. The level of participation and enthusiasm is quite impressive for an organization the size of the AASV. The money raised at the auction provides a great deal of the funds needed for the foundation’s budget for the forthcoming year.
One very visible result of the foundation’s efforts can be seen at the annual meeting in the number of veterinary students in attendance. There were 164 veterinary students with us in Denver, representing 27 colleges of veterinary medicine in seven countries. The foundation’s work in the form of travel stipends, scholarships, internships, and externships is resulting in an increased interest in swine veterinary medicine among students. This investment in the future of AASV will pay dividends for many years to come. Given the quality of the student attendees, it is not difficult to imagine these young people as future leaders in our association and the pork industry.
The AASV is a family by choice and not by blood relationship. By our nature, we are a tight-knit family with much in common, including shared opportunities and challenges. Even as we close out the 2012 annual meeting, I look forward to beginning the cycle of planning and preparation for the 2013 annual meeting. See you in San Diego!