Dr. Larry Rueff, in his inaugural President's Message last year, stated that "Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will we make massive changes in our organization." Subsequent to those words of prophecy, we have terminated our long-term standing shared-management agreement with the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association (amicably), moved the office from Des Moines to Perry, Iowa, and hired our first full-time executive director as well as our first full-time administrative assistant. So much for Larry as a prognosticator!
The major changes that took place in the AASP this past year reflect changes that are occurring for many of us personally and changes occurring in the swine industry itself. When I ran for the office of the AASP Vice President, I was somewhat uncomfortably entrenched as the extension swine veterinarian at the University of Missouri. The end of 1997 marked the completion of my first year in full-time private swine practice. My former partner, Dr. Butch Baker, changed careers in midyear, entering industry after 19 years in private practice. In the larger industry, the major structural changes that began taking place in the late 1980s and early 1990s continued, perhaps not at the frenetic pace of a few years ago, but still proceeding with new technologies being adopted and old ones being refined.
As these changes have occurred, the AASP has continued to fulfill our mission to provide the membership with timely, relevant, practical, high-quality continuing education. With the presence of a full-time Executive Director, we now have a consistent, highly informed, articulate, and respected spokesperson to represent our organization to commodity groups, in the legislative arena, to the media, and to other veterinary organizations on a daily basis. Because of the vision of your officers and the Board of Directors over the past several years, the AASP is in an excellent position to serve the membership and provide leadership to the industry.
It is an honor to be able to serve our organization as President this coming year. I'm not bold enough to predict the changes and challenges that may occur but I'm sure there will be some. Like everyone else who has served in this position, my "AASP apprenticeship" was served on many committees (my real involvement with the AASP began in 1990 when Dr. Jim McKean asked me to serve on the Long-Range Planning Committee), on the Board of Directors, and as Vice President and President-Elect. We know that the real work of improving our organization and serving members and our industry is done by the members on the various committees and task forces. I will be calling on many of you this year to serve on committees or special projects. Volunteers are also welcome! If you have an area of special interest, don't be shy about getting appointed to a committee and putting your ideas to work. The AASP needs each individual's special insights and wisdom.