This past fall, I spent several hours driving across the heart of Iowa, traveling back to Nebraska with my family on my way to my hometown to attend my grandfather’s funeral. During the trip I was reminded of what led me to become a swine veterinarian.
My grandfather was a farmer and stockman; he grew up farming and ranching and raised a family of nine on the farm. He had a brother, four sisters, and two sons (including my dad) who were or are involved in farming. I was raised on a farm just adjacent to my grandparents’ farm, and along with my sisters and 18 first cousins, have so many memories of the farm. Several of my cousins and I reminisced about things we did growing up on Grandpa’s farm, and as we did, it became clear that those experiences shaped who we are today. The stories had a common theme: work hard, do your best, be responsible, support each other – all the things that build character and a foundation of faith and integrity.
I was reminded about how great the rural communities are that surround agriculture. I visited with many people I hadn’t seen in years, finding out what their families were doing, who got married, who had kids, where everyone was living, who was serving in the military; and of course, you’re never around farm families without talking about crops, rain, and the markets. Farming people are truly the most caring, genuine, and hard-working folks you’ll meet.
I can say that same thing about my fellow AASV members, officers, and staff. What a great group of people to work with. In October, the AASV committee chairs, board members, officers, and staff met in Perry, Iowa, for our annual committee leaders’ and board meeting. I can assure you we all talked about crops, rain, and the markets too! This meeting is designed as a strategy session. The first day allows committee chairs to describe and discuss the things their committees are working on. The afternoon is set to provide an opportunity for the entire group to have a strategic planning session for the AASV.
This year I chose the following topic for discussion in our strategy session: What should AASV be doing in the area of animal welfare to better ready us for the changes and challenges that lie ahead? We had some really good discussion on identifying those challenges and some ideas on what we can do to enhance the knowledge of our members regarding animal care and welfare, ending with a list of key items that we can work on in the future. As we look to the future of our industry, we as swine veterinarians are an important part of that future. Our expertise in infectious diseases, animal treatment and care, biosecurity, and food safety give us plenty of opportunity to be involved in swine and pork production.
This is my farewell message as AASV president, and as I turn the pen over to Dr Matt Anderson, I want to express my gratitude to some very deserving people:
First, to my family, especially my dad and grandparents for instilling in me the values and morals planted and sown while growing up on the farm, and for strengthening and enriching my love and compassion for animals and the land;
To my mentors and friends at Hanor for allowing me to take the time to serve the AASV and appreciate the value it has for me personally and for our industry;
To the AASV officers and the AASV board members for showing me how to be a leader and mentor to others;
To the AASV staff, including the JSHAP staff, for their help and patience with me the last few years and their dedication to our association;
To the members of the AASV for believing in this organization and our industry and for their time and dedication to the pig and pig farmers;
And finally, to the students involved in our organization: your enthusiasm is refreshing and invigorating!
As I end my year as president, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve and for your encouragement and mentoring, I learned a tremendous amount and appreciate your allowing me this opportunity.
Tara Donovan, DVM