I am honored to be nominated for AASV vice president. The AASV and its members have been an integral part of my life and practice for as long as I can remember. Every year after attending the annual convention I am inspired to work smarter and harder to improve as a swine veterinarian.
I grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in south central Indiana. My father built one of the first confinement swine barns in our community in 1980 when I was 10 years old. That was the year of my first interaction with an AASV member. Dr Larry Rueff visited our farm to diagnose and treat colibacillosis. That was also my first exposure to population medicine, when two of the piglets were sacrificed for the benefit of the herd. It was about that time that I decided to pursue becoming a veterinarian and was accepted to veterinary school at Purdue University in 1990. Our farm was originally a specific pathogen free (SPF) farm, so biosecurity was something I was exposed to at an early age. I met another AASV member, Dr Mike Lemmon, when he did our SPF farm inspections.
My wife Traci and I have four children, Kathleen, Sarah, Matthew, and Amelia, ranging in age from 9 to 21 years of age, and we were blessed by the birth of a granddaughter in November 2014. We have a small “hobby farm” where we raise sheep for the kids to show in 4-H. We also have a fairly sizeable garden and 12 fruit trees, so we enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables all summer.
After graduating veterinary school in 1994, I joined Dr Max Rodibaugh at Swine Health Services as an associate veterinarian and then became a partner in 2001. In 2012 we added a third veterinarian, Dr Daren Miller. Our practice is dedicated to swine, and we serve a very diverse swine clientele. Our clients range from small show pig herds to contract growers in integrated production. The bulk of our clients have independent family farms, and these have provided many good learning experiences over my career.
I have been involved in many organizations in my lifetime, going back to 4-H club president and FFA chapter president. I also received the American Farmer Degree from the FFA. I served 7 years on the Indiana Pork Producers Board of Directors and was president in 2008. I am currently serving as AASV District 4 director. For the past 3 years I have been the AASV’s alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates, and will be serving as the delegate for the next 3 years. This interaction with AVMA is extremely important to the AASV so that we can advocate for the swine industry to the 80,000 AVMA members.
My current service on the AASV Board of Directors has helped me experience the inner workings of the organization. This experience should help me to “hit the ground running” if elected vice president. My experience serving on the AASV Annual Meeting Planning Committee and planning the Indiana Swine Veterinary meeting for many years will help me to chair the planning committee if elected. Education of our members is the primary purpose of AASV, as indicated by the recent update to the AASV’s mission statement, and if elected I intend to further that purpose.
The AASV has very strong connections with the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council. I believe that I can continue to strengthen these bonds due to my experience and participation in both organizations. One of the important jobs of AASV leadership is to serve as a spokesperson for AASV and the pork industry. I have been involved with the National Pork Board’s Operation Main Street program since it began several years ago. I have spoken to many consumer groups about how pork is produced. Effective communication with the media is something we all must continue to do and improve upon in order to show the public that we are deserving of their trust as guardians of their food supply.
When I was involved with AASV as a veterinary student, there were not many organized programs for students. However, I still felt welcome at the annual meeting. The AASV’s current student programming is excellent and very encouraging for the future of swine veterinary practice. Adapting to students’ changing needs will be important to keep the excellent tradition of welcoming them to the AASV before graduation.
The AASV is a very strong organization built by excellent leaders in the past. If elected, I plan to continue that legacy and serve this organization to the best of my ability.