First, I would like to wish all ARPAS members a happy and prosperous 2021. In addition, I hope all of us can get back to some level of normalcy over this new year, though admittedly, we may not know what that looks like yet.
One thing that 2020 has taught us as an organization is that we need to be adaptable to societal changes if we are going to meet the needs of our current members and recruit new ones. This challenge was successfully met head-on as denoted by the following two examples:
- The 2020 ARPAS Symposium, originally scheduled as an in-person event at the ADSA meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida, was conducted via Zoom January 28, 2021. Even though it was disappointing to not have the live event and the in-person dialogue that it typically fosters, we felt that we owed it to our members to still provide a high-quality symposium, supported by excellent manuscripts in Applied Animal Science. I thank Arm and Hammer and the Plains Nutrition Council for sponsoring these papers.
- Zoom has allowed us to proctor the exam in real time. As one who has proctored a couple of these exams, I can say this process works very well. Fortunately, we integrated online exams a few years ago.
I want to recognize and thank John Richeson and Paul Beck, our representatives to PAACO. Paul is completing his second (and last) term as an ARPAS representative to PAACO, but we will keep him busy as the president of ARPAS in 2021–2022. Jeff Weyers will be taking Beck’s place as the ARPAS representative to the PAACO board. One interesting note is that Weyers just completed the ARPAS exam in late 2020 using the virtual format, so I greatly appreciate him jumping headfirst into our organization as a first-year member.
Considering that we are in a time of adaptation, it may be an appropriate time to review and update our long-range (five-year) marketing plan to draw new members to ARPAS. Total ARPAS membership was down by 235 members in 2020 relative to 2019. It has been approximately seven years since the last plan was developed, and, without a doubt, the animal industry looks much different now than it did in 2014. Likewise, a plan to recruit may also need to look different as well.
Last, I would like to acknowledge Kenneth Cummings for his invaluable contribution to this organization as not only the executive director over the past 13 years but also as an active member during the years preceding that role. Cummings informed the ARPAS governing council at the 2020 fourth-quarter meeting that he plans on stepping down as executive director at the 2021 annual membership meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. During this next year, one major and difficult task of the Governing Council will be to fill this vacancy.