What a difference a year makes? I state this in the form of a question that we all need to answer regarding our personal and professional lives. One year ago, COVID-19 was not a factor in our individual worlds. Now, a year later, it dominates them. The same can be said for ARPAS.
Last year, I listed the following foundational objectives of ARPAS, which have not changed as a result of this pandemic. What has changed is how we addressed them.
- Assessing the professional qualifications of animal scientist by examination for admittance to the registry.
- Identifying and supporting sources of continuing education for our members to enhance their professional growth.
- Providing a code of ethics for our members and enforcing adherence.
Thanks to Steve Schmidt, chair of our Examination Committee, and Brittany Morstatter, our outstanding administrative assistant, the examination process can now be accomplished entirely in a virtual world using Zoom (which I had never heard of one year ago) and online exams. Zoom allows us to proctor the exam in real time. Fortunately, we integrated online exams a few years ago, never anticipating they would fully replace the old paper exam system historically used by most of us. The whole process of application, scheduling, monitoring, administration, and grading now is accomplished in cyberspace. What is missing is the personal contact many of us had with the prospective member.
Our second objective of identifying and supporting sources for continuing education has proven to be a virtual gold mine. Almost all conferences, educational meetings, and seminars sponsored by industry and academia are now available as Zoom (or similar) events. We greatly appreciate these excellent resources that have been made available to us. ARPAS CEUs are assigned to each submission received, and our members should have ample CE resources to fulfill their annual requirement.
Our third objective, providing a code of ethics, has not changed, and hopefully our ethics committee, chaired by Dwight Roseler, will report that any enforcing of adherence was not required in 2020.
The ARPAS Foundation, chaired by Andy Cole, was established in 2010 for the purpose of building an endowment fund. Only the earnings from the fund may be used to provide educational support for members, encourage membership growth, and assist our chapters in developing programs for members. The ARPAS Foundation has been paying the exam fees for graduate students as an incentive for them to attain membership early in their career.
Our financial report, submitted by Treasurer Dana Tomlinson, will verify that ARPAS is now in sound financial condition thanks to an increase in dues for 2021. With accounting support from FASS and investment advice from a professional advisor at Morgan Stanley, Tomlinson also oversees that our reserve and ARPAS Foundation funds are prudently invested. We want to achieve a 12-month reserve to ensure our programs can be funded during lean times.
Three major changes to our AAS journal over the past five years were made with expectations that the journal would have more extended readership and become a revenue generator for us. These changes were cessation of self-publication and enlistment of Elsevier as our publisher, appointment of Dave Beede to take over the reins as editor, and a name change to Applied Animal Science. The goal was to help put the journal on a path to greater recognition and growth, and in 2020 we began to see positive results. We have initiated a new five-year contract with Elsevier, and we thank Past President Al Kertz for recruiting sponsors to support the publication of more review articles to increase readership. Beede has also agreed to continue his excellent leadership for another three-year term.
Leadership is key to the success of any organization, and ARPAS has been fortunate to have a continuing supply of very capable leaders that quickly take command. Our Executive Committee, chaired by President Kleinschmit with President-Elect Paul Beck, Past President Al Kertz, Secretary Mike Brown, and Treasurer Dana Tomlinson, has spent many hours behind the scenes in the past year directing ARPAS activities. Our committees continue to function, chapters are holding virtual meetings, and exams are being given. Credit for providing a central clearing house for all these activities is given to Brittany Morstatter at FASS. She has researched and implemented many of the resources we have required during this year to continue to function. She is assisted in her daily member support for ARPAS by a capable and efficient staff at FASS, headed by Jeremy Holzner.
My activities have been greatly curtailed since travel and face-to-face interaction are no longer possible. Without Zoom meetings, phone calls, and the internet, carrying out my duties would not have been possible. And I thought the fax machine was the ultimate office invention.
Past President Al Kertz and the Nominating Committee will soon be asking for nominations for president-elect and Midwest director. An online process will be used to conduct our elections, which has worked with great success in the past. It is also used by the ARPAS chapters to conduct their election process. Please cast your vote in the upcoming ARPAS elections.
The growth of chapter membership and other activities was greatly curtailed in 2020. All meetings were virtual, and much of the enthusiasm generated by in-person meetings was missing. However, chapter work continued on, and we applaud the leadership. Each person is worthy of recognition, and I encourage you to read the individual chapter reports to learn about these unsung heroes. Leadership in a chapter provides the best training ground for future leaders of the ARPAS Executive Committee and Governing Council.
ACAS board-certified membership is slowly declining, with more members retiring and eligible ARPAS members seemingly reluctant to engage in the rigorous testing process for certification. ACAS President Jim Chapman and the ACAS Executive Committee have Zoomed on a regular basis to review and certify applicants completing the requirements for board certification. We still have many ARPAS members who could apply through the “highly qualified” route or by examination. Please consider this avenue if you are eligible and give Chapman or Morstatter a call.
The Distinguished Professional Animal Scientist Award is bestowed annually on members of ARPAS who have achieved or are eligible for emeritus status and have made significant contributions to the animal sciences while serving in leadership positions within ARPAS. Our recipient in 2020 was Richard Sellars, former vice president of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and now president of the Washington DC chapter.
Bill Price, our resident ARPAS historian, continually updates a record of our history. Please visit his updated History section on our website and take a trip through the ARPAS past.
Where should ARPAS go from here? Assuming we regain our free-range past, we still need to grow membership and expand outside of the United States. You can help by becoming a champion for ARPAS within your organization, company, or university. We must continue to communicate the value of becoming a professional member of ARPAS. Students, especially graduate students about to embark on a professional career in animal science, are our best source of new members. Each university with an animal science program needs a presentation at a senior and graduate student seminar on the importance of ARPAS membership to a professional animal scientist. We have the tools, including a PowerPoint presentation, available to assist in this process. Please review the information featured on our website and pick a university where you can be the liaison on behalf of ARPAS.
Thanks to all ARPAS and ACAS members who gave of their time to work on behalf of this organization in 2020. It was a privilege for me to continue my work for ARPAS and to have the continuing support of each member.