Zdravíme přátele a kolegy!/Greetings Friends and Colleagues!
I am excited to welcome you to 50th Annual Conference of the AAZV!! It has been an incredible honor to serve as President of this great organization for the past year and I am humbled to be leading the organization as we celebrate this momentous milestone. The first AAZV conference was held in 1968 at Michigan State University when Dr. Les Fisher was AAZV President. I’ve had the chance to get to know Les over the past few years and it’s been wonderful to hear him share memories of AAZV and the growth of zoological medicine. Les turned 98 this year and I can only marvel at the changes he has seen in veterinary medicine over his lifetime!
This year marks an exciting “first” for our organization with us venturing across the Atlantic for a joint conference with EAZWV and IZW. We are thrilled with how many of our members have made the trip and look forward to an exciting week. I would like to thank Stephanie Sanderson, Hanspeter Steinmetz, and Hugo Fernández from EAZWV and Josepha Prügel, Stefanie Lenz, Steven Seet, Kristin Mühldorfer, and Alex Greenwood from IZW for their hard work in making this conference a success. Many thanks also to Roman Vodička and the Prague Zoo staff for their hospitality and welcoming us to this amazing city.
The AAZV Scientific Program Committee (SPC), EAZWV, and IZW have worked extremely hard to deliver an incredible program of workshops and presentations. It will be impossible for you not learn something new this week! Furthermore, we hope the opportunity to network with colleagues from around the world will foster new collaborations and partnerships. I cannot say enough positive things about the hard work the AAZV SPC does every year. They are in a constant state of planning and execution for the annual conference. If you see Allison Tuttle, Kristen Phair, Sam Rivera, Alicia Hahn, or Sam Sander this week, please take a moment to say “thanks”.
Please also extend a thank you to Rob Hilsenroth, our Executive Director, Adine Nicholson, our Director of Development, and Kathy Blacklock, our AAZV Administrative Assistant for everything they do for our organization. This year AAZV awarded 13 grants totaling over $105,000 from our Wild Animal Health Fund. We are on track to increase our level of funding even further in 2019. The continued growth and success of the WAHF is just one of many things that would not be possible without their unwavering dedication to our organization.
Finally, I encourage all of you to become involved in your organization. It is participation from our membership that allows AAZV to grow and fulfill our mission. Our new Strategic Plan developed this year identifies five bold steps for our organization for the next five years. These goals center around themes such as expanding member benefits to aid in improving quality of life and work-life balance for our members, advocating for better recognition of the value that zoo veterinarians provide their employers, expanding scientific outputs, continuing the growth of the WAHF, and advocating for better recognition of the role our members play in wildlife conservation. They are mighty big goals, but it’s not in a zoo veterinarian’s genes to underachieve. With your support, we will be successful!
Enjoy the conference and Prague!!!
Mike Adkesson, DVM, DACZM, DECZM (ZHM)