I have always been a fan of country music, even before it was cool. One of my favorite artists, Tim McGraw, recently released a new song entitled “Humble and Kind.” It’s the type of song that reflects on the important things in life while also delivering some advice. Part of the song goes like this: When you get where you’re going, Don’t forget – turn back around, And help the next one in line (Tim McGraw, album Humble and Kind, 2015).
This is great advice for all of us in the profession of swine veterinary medicine. We each have points in our careers where we help someone advance his or her career. We can do that individually through professional, personal, and business relationships. We can also do that in a shared manner through an organization like the AASV Foundation (AASVF). The AASVF is based on the premise of capitalizing the contributions of its members to accomplish the AASVF mission “to empower swine veterinarians to achieve a higher level of personal and professional effectiveness.”
In recent years, the AASVF has mounted significant efforts to attract the best and brightest veterinary students to begin and sustain careers in swine veterinary medicine. This is being done through funding for travel to the annual meeting, internships, externships, and an expanding program of scholarships. If you were at the 2016 AASV Annual Meeting, then you had the opportunity to see 150 veterinary students from 24 different colleges of veterinary medicine. You also had the opportunity to see some of the fruits of the foundation’s efforts displayed in the young leaders who are active as committee members and chairs, as well as presenters during the sessions.
Another area of growth for the foundation is in the funding of research with direct application to our profession. In 2016, over $60,000 will be spent on projects selected through a competitive process. With decreasing federal and university budgets for swine research, this is an area of growing need. The foundation also funds the annual Dunne and Hogg lectures at the AASV Annual Meeting, as well as the Hogg Scholarship that is given to a swine veterinarian wishing to return to college for an advanced degree.
For all that the foundation has done, there is still so much to do. Members of AASV and industry partners have been very generous over the years. The work of the foundation is dependent on two flows of funds. The first is derived from fund-raising events such as the auction, raffle, and golf outing. Many individuals and companies provide extensive backing for these events. The second is from donations. The foundation gladly accepts contributions of any size. Every dollar counts and will be put to use.
Beyond general contributions, the foundation has three structured giving programs. The first, the entry-level Leman Fellow program, requires a commitment to contribute $1000 either as a single donation or spread out in payments. The intent is to provide an attainable pathway for anyone wishing to support the foundation.
The next level, the Heritage Fellow program, entails a donation of at least $5000, which may be made directly or through a bequest or life insurance policy as part of estate planning. The response to this program has been significant, with more than 50 Heritage Fellow donors participating since the program’s inception in 2001. Members of all ages have come forward from various points in their careers to participate.
The newest giving program, the Legacy Fund, is based on a gift of $50,000 or more to the foundation. We recently announced our first Legacy donor, Dr Nathan Winkelman. This gift is a substantial amount and one that signifies the giver’s commitment to “Ensuring our Future….Creating a Legacy.”
The funds donated through all three giving programs are restricted so that only the income is spent on foundation programming, thus preserving the initial principal of the donation under market conditions. The funds are invested in a mix of stocks and bonds selected by professional financial advisors.
The foundation recognizes that our members are all at different points in their careers. By creating giving programs that are attainable, members can participate where and when they are comfortable. All three of the giving programs are linked so that donations are cumulative through a lifetime of giving. This allows a contributor to start as a Leman Fellow with $1000, then progress to the Heritage Fellow, and on to the Legacy Fund.
Are you at a point in your career where it is time to start giving back? If you are and you like what the foundation is doing, then please consider supporting it financially. There is no better time to “turn back around, And help the next one in line!”
Tom Burkgren, DVM Executive Director