Incoming executive vice presidentAmerican Association of Bovine Practitioners For the first time in 11 years, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) will have a new executive vice president.
Taking over AABP leadership is Dr. K. Fred Gingrich II, a mixed-animal practitioner who owns Country Roads Veterinary Services Inc. in Ashland, Ohio. Following a transition period, he will succeed Dr. M. Gatz Riddell, Jr., who is retiring at the end of December 2016.
Progressive Dairyman Editor Dave Natzke talked with Gingrich, who is currently AABP’s president, about the transition to a new leadership role, his goals for the organization and the responsibilities of veterinarians in an evolving dairy industry.
Q. Taking on the new leadership role with AABP means stepping away from private practice. What will you miss most?
A. Gingrich: I will miss my farm clients and directly working with cattle.
Q. What are the greatest challenges AABP faces as an organization as you take over as executive vice president?
A. Gingrich: Continuing to demonstrate the great value our organization has to all cattle veterinarians to encourage membership and participation. We also need to continue to advocate for the cattle veterinarian to other veterinary organizations, legislators, producer groups, consumers and retailers/processors, and packers.
Q. You started volunteering on AABP committees back in 2007. As you took on greater leadership roles, including becoming AABP president last year, two attributes are mentioned most frequently by your peers: communication and infectious enthusiasm. Who helped form those attributes in you?
A. Gingrich: My enthusiasm for being a veterinarian has been lifelong, as it has been for many veterinarians. My involvement in AABP as a member for the past 21 years has allowed me to develop communication skills and become passionate in advocating for the issues that are important to cattle veterinarians.
I have many mentors who helped me along the way, both in practice as well as helping me with my involvement in AABP.
Q. As the leader of this organization, you not only have the responsibility to serve AABP members, but you also have a role in representing an entire industry. Personally, what are your biggest challenges as a leader going forward?
A. Gingrich: My number one priority is our members. I will dedicate every effort to each of them, and that is a big challenge I fully accept. The challenge for representing an entire industry will be to advocate to the veterinary profession as a whole the good work cattle veterinarians do every day – private practitioners, academia and industry.
We are only 5 percent of the American Veterinary Medical Association membership, and many of our colleagues in other areas of the profession are unaware of what we do and it is our job to communicate this to them.
Q. Technological advances have brought a number of diagnostic and monitoring tools to the dairy farm over the past decade, changing the way producers manage individual cows and entire herds. How might technology change the producer-veterinarian relationship in the next decade?
A. Gingrich: Cattle veterinarians must continue to adapt and change to meet the needs of their clients. To be successful, veterinarians must learn what their clients want and then learn the skills needed to apply that service. The big areas that I see veterinarians bringing tremendous value to their farm clients are oversight of medication use on farms and animal welfare programs.
Q. We’ve already brought up the importance of communications. From my perspective, at least, many consumers seem to have a disconnect between future food security and animal agriculture. Do veterinarians have a role in making that connection? If so, how do they succeed?
A. Gingrich: Veterinarians can be the voice of our clients to retailers/packers and processors. Farmers and veterinarians are both respected professions, and to be successful in telling our story, we must understand the consumer point of view and demonstrate our willingness to be transparent as well as show consumers we truly care about the animals we are raising for food.
There will always be a disconnect because our society is a few generations removed from the farm. However, it is not an insurmountable problem when we communicate with them, which requires talking and listening.
Q. After more than a decade at the helm, Dr. M. Gatz Riddell will leave a lasting imprint on AABP. As you take over, is there an imprint you’d like to begin forming?
A. Gingrich: AABP is fortunate to have the leadership Dr. Riddell has provided for the past 11 years. We are a better organization under his leadership, and the role of the executive vice president has changed over the years due to the many issues our profession now faces.
My primary goal for the remainder of the year is to learn everything I can from Dr. Riddell to make the transition of leadership successful. The imprint I would like to make on our members is that I will work tirelessly for them. This position means serving the membership as well as leading them, and I will do my best to accomplish that goal. PD
Progressive Dairyman Editor Dave Natzke talked with Gingrich about the transition to a new leadership role, his goals for the organization and the responsibilities of veterinarians in an evolving dairy industry.
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