Relative to maturity, ARPAS is in middle-age but still in good health. We continuing to add new members and address new ways to add value for our member and our profession. Ten years ago, our testing process used only paper exams. Our work consisted of evaluating educational programs for CEU credit, working on a strategic plan and assisting the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to train ARPAS members for on-farm feed management evaluation. ARPAS had five active Chapters but the bulk of our ARPAS members had no regional chapter affiliation and could not participate ARPAS associated activities.
We had just completed the transformation of our board certification program to encompass five discipline areas into one college (ACAS). Ethics was and has always been the “third leg” on our stool and the one that reminds us that we are in an honorable profession.
Since 2008, we have seen the addition of three new chapters (Mid-West, North-East and South-East) with programs and activities to serve over 50% of our membership. Our original five chapters are still active as well and exploring new ways to maintain viability and relevance to their members.
Our newsletter, originated by Exec. Director Dr. Bill Baumgardt in 1999, has been greatly expanded and is the primary means of communications with our membership. With three issues/year, we provide our members with a very transparent account of ARPAS activities.
Our website has also been remodeled more that once over this period. Updating is continuously required and we willingly accept suggestions from members for improvements.
Testing of new applicants is now available online, although not widely used, since many prospective members prefer to take the exam at one of the professional meetings where exams are offered. We depend on members to proctor the exam process, even with the online exams. Dr. Steve Schmidt has worked tirelessly with many ARPAS members to keep the database of exam questions relevant to the rapidly changing technology.
The discipline of Animal Welfare Science was added to our Board Certification College System in 2014. An alternate means of board certification was developed to recognize the expertise of “Highly Qualified Individuals” in lieu of exams. Several recognized experts have accepted this path to achieve board certification.
The ARPAS Symposium, which we hold during the professional society hosting our ARPAS Annual meeting, has allowed us to gain stature and recognition of ARPAS as a professional organization. The papers from this symposium are published in our Journal.
As we prepared for drafting of a Strategic Plan in 2011, a survey of our membership was conducted. With their input, we adopted a new mission statement, vision statement and a definitive logo to better state our purpose and identity (this can be viewed on our website). This survey process was also used in preparation for drafting the current 5-year plan in 2016 and for soliciting a new name for the ARPAS Journal.
The ARPAS Foundation was formed in 2008 to create a fund for educational activities to benefit our membership and to encourage membership growth. This Foundation is now a separate non-profit 501 (c)3 organization. We have accumulated about $200,00 in this fund and only the earnings can be used for the above stated uses. These assets are invested using the same diversification as our other ARPAS funds (see below). Specie exams for graduate students have been funded by the Foundation and several educational programs received partial support.
We also initiated an award to recognize emeritus members that made a significant contribution in the leadership of ARPAS and in our profession. The “Distinguished Professional Animal Scientist Award has now been bestowed on 27 worthy recipients.
In this ten-year period, our exposure to the international animal science community was enhanced by helping Nigerian Animal Scientist form an ARPAS-type organization. We have ARPAS members from several countries interested in forming their own organization modeled after ARPAS.
ARPAS has always been highly dependent on membership dues for operational support and this is still true. Sponsorship dollars from companies within our industry reached a peak about 15 years ago but consolidation and direct sponsor benefit accountability has greatly reduced this source. Support for specific activities (symposia as an example) is still available.
Our financial condition is excellent. We have more that doubled our financial reserves over this period. We now have about $300,000 in reserve which is invested in a conservative portfolio (75% fixed income/25% equities). This allow us to take some risk and try new approaches as we did with the PAS Journal in 2015 when we engaged Elsevier to take on this role.
Dr. Wayne Kellogg, the editor-in-chief of the PAS Journal over this 10-year period, has retired. He made numerous positive changes to the Journal over his tenure. The most notable was to engage Elsevier as publisher to expand the exposure and stature of our journal. Our new EIC, Dr. David Beede, is already exploring new ideas to further enhance this initiative.
FASS has been our administrative arm for almost 20 years. We are very appreciative of the great people at FASS that provide administrative support, journal management and accounting services for us. Our primary contact person is Cornicha Henderson, our administrative assistant, whom we greatly appreciate.
ARPAS has always been blessed with great leadership. Members have been willing to get involved for multiple years to lead and do the grunt work necessary to manage, grow and support this organization. President John Bernard and the ARPAS Executive Committee responded to the challenge this year with the search for a new Editor. We look forward to President-Elect Andy Cole and the incoming officers as they focus on the challenge of articulating the benefits and values of ARPAS to enhance membership growth, refocus our Journal and explore new opportunities for service to our members.
I want to express my appreciation to the many members that were involved in programs, conference calls, exams, meetings, planning, nominating, booth sitting, university liaison and the myriad of other activities that are required to make us a successful and appreciated organization.
Kenneth R. Cummings, Dipl. ACAN
Exec. VP, ARPAS