The American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) is now a 45-year-old association of veterinarians with a rich tradition of fellowship and cohesiveness, and I would say, success, despite its tenure occurring throughout the greatest period of evolution the swine industry has yet seen. The industry we serve today is more global and more concentrated. Our patients are found on larger farms where often they represent the only species present. We talk in terms of biosecurity and preventive medicine. We spend more time on animal welfare and advocacy and less time on “procedures.” Whom we serve and how we serve them have both changed a great deal over the last several decades. And yet I believe the AASV remains both strong and vital. There are any number of professional associations, some weak, some strong. What is it that accounts for the difference?
In leadership meetings we have spent a fair amount of time discussing the difference between member-driven organizations and staff-driven organizations. The AASV is blessed with an excellent staff that is both committed and thoroughly competent. They are awesome, and yet, to a person, they would all tell you that the strength and character of any organization lie in the commitment and engagement of its members. Simply put, YOU can take the credit for our past success. Members make the difference. The strength and future success of our association also depend upon you.
We are not a large organization in terms of our number of members. However, we are a large organization in terms of what our industry expects of us. We are expected to provide the voice of science and the voice of reason. More and more, we are expected to be advocates for our patients, our clients, and our industry. As an organization, our mission should both keep us focused on these expectations and provide knowledge and education to help our members fulfill these expectations. As members and as a leadership team, it is important for us to stay grounded in and focused on our mission.
It is the mission of the AASV “to increase the knowledge of swine veterinarians by promoting the development and availability of the resources that enhance the effectiveness of professional activities; creating opportunities that inspire personal and professional growth; advocating science-based approaches to industry issues; encouraging personal and professional interaction; and mentoring students, encouraging life-long careers as swine veterinarians.”
The strength and character of the AASV lie in the commitment and in the engagement of its members. As a small organization, from a membership perspective, it is very important for all members to be involved. My goal for our members is for you to get inspired, get engaged, and then get involved. We are surrounded in the AASV by past leaders who provide a wonderful example of what commitment and engagement at a high level look like. If I were to mention them all here, this would become a lengthy article. We all know them and appreciate them for what they do. At the leadership level, there continue to be opportunities to serve. I would encourage each of our members to explore the idea of serving on our executive team at some time. Additionally, there are 11 districts in the AASV’s geographic footprint, and they each call for an elected director. There is an opportunity to be a delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates. There are at least six standing AVMA committees that each require an AASV member to represent our association, that relate to animal agriculture, animal welfare, clinical practice, environmental issues, food safety, and legislative initiatives. There is also a collegiate member’s opportunity to be an AASV student delegate.
A vital part of the AASV and its mission to increase the knowledge of veterinarians is our standing committee structure. Under the umbrella of health, nutrition, and research are the committees related to boar-stud bio-security, foreign-animal disease, influenza, nutrition, Production Animal Disease Risk Assessment Program, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, and swine health. Within the area of political and social issues are committees related to human health, Operation Main Street, pharmaceutical issues, pig welfare, and pork safety.
I strongly encourage all members to be engaged in one or more of our committees. My challenge to every new graduate is to find a committee representing an area that you have special interest in and get involved. Our committee leaders are always looking for new members with fresh ideas.
The strength and character of the AASV lie in the commitment and in the engagement of its members. Get engaged! Talking with one of our executive team members or staff is a great place to start.
-- Matt Anderson, DVM AASV President