Kicking off the 44th annual meeting of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians was Dr. Craig Rowles, who delivered the Howard Dunne Memorial  Lecture. After sharing with the audience the many changes he’s seen in the industry since he’s been involved, he said, ““That brings us today. The world of pig production and veterinary medicine has been an ever-changing and ever-evolving. You have to embrace change and be ready for tomorrow.”

What separates visionary companies from mediocre companies? Rowles says there are deeper reasons for an organization’s existence. “It’s not about people who just sell stuff – it will be about making a difference.

 “You can ask yourself, ‘Is this right, given our purpose?’ True leaders will make decisions and make sure the purpose is never violated. Passion is rooted in the purpose of the organization,” said Rowles.

He feels it’s important for veterinarians to advocate on their clients’ behalf. He mentioned the National Pork Board’s Operation Main Street program, in which industry spokespeople discuss pork production practices with consumers. “We carry little weight by ourselves,” says Rowles.

He asked audience members to consider what they’re passionate about – to reexamine their own purpose. “At the end of the day, out collective purpose is simple – it’s to serve our clients, our partners, our fellow man, and society in general, in ways that places the needs of our clients ahead of our own. In their success, you’ll find your own.”

Dr. John Waddell gave the Alex Hogg Lecture and was equally impassioned. Part of the mission of AASV is to mentor students and encourage life-long careers in veterinary medicine. “It doesn’t all come out of books,” said Waddell. “It has to come from people. If it were just about pigs it would be easy, but it’s not, it’s about people.”

Waddell has kept an “Intern Book” since 1997. It contains the names of 134 students he and his wife have hosted as interns, representing 32 colleges, 30 states, and three countries. And there were other students before that! Waddell said, “We’ve gotten a lot more back from those students than we ever offered.

 “It’s about how we influence, encourage and empower kids. You don’t have to be a person of influence to be influential .In fact some of the most influential people in my life probably don’t even know the influence they’ve had.”

We will provide a more complete overview of these and other sessions from AASV, but I wanted to highlight the passion, dedication and commitment to “paying it forward” evident in these two men. No doubt, their inspiring presentations will move others to reach a higher standard of excellence.