ARPAS has made several significant accomplishments this past year, but let me start by acknowledging that our success is largely attributable to the hard work and dedication of Executive Vice President, Kenneth Cummings. Kenneth keeps the “balls in the air” for ARPAS. I truly appreciate his faithful service, positive attitude, and common-sense approach to conducting business for our organization.
As a relatively small organization with a somewhat narrowly focused membership base, ARPAS needs to ensure that existing members renew in a timely manner and that we are doing an effective job of recruiting new members. Because we require continuing education to renew membership, ensuring timely renewals is sometimes a challenge. We seem to have a sizeable number of members each year who either are late in paying dues or have not met CEU requirements. These members are sent reminder e-mails, and the Executive Committee works to contact many of these people, particularly ones they know personally. Our overall membership numbers have been steady the past few years and are up slightly (about 20 members) in 2014 vs. 2013. We hope that in the future our relationships with other organizations will help to provide certified educational content (see more details below) that will make obtaining and tracking CEUs easier for our members, thereby facilitating the renewal process. Thanks to funding from the ARPAS Foundation, we are offering the ARPAS exam at no cost to undergraduate students at the JAM this summer (both ASAS and ADSA student groups are involved), and we hope to continue this effort in the future. As these students complete their education and move into careers, we also need to be sure to articulate the value ARPAS membership and certification of credentials, which will help keep them among our ranks for many years to come.
One accomplishment this year that should hold great potential for ARPAS is the memorandum of understanding that we signed with ASAS to pursue opportunities in online education and certification of educational materials. In the years to come, we hope to have similar agreements with other FASS-affiliated societies. By serving as the “certifying body” for educational content that ASAS currently has in the pipeline, as well as for webinar-type programming (workshops, seminars, etc.) that will become available in the future, we will be providing ARPAS members with greater opportunities for career development and for obtaining CEUs to maintain their certification.
Steve Smith and the Examining Board are to be congratulated for taking ARPAS to the next level in terms of our examination process. Thanks largely to Steve’s persistence and to the capable work of Jeremy Holzner at FASS, we now have all our current exams online. Indeed, when students and others attending JAM take an exam, it should be the online version (although we will have a few paper copies as backups just in case!). This is a great step forward for ARPAS, and we are doing it without an increase in cost and a much faster turnaround time on grading (the exam is scored as soon as the person finishes). Steve also has been working to meet requests from several animal/dairy science departments across the country to develop assessment exams for graduating seniors. He plans to have an exam ready for a trial run at one university this next academic year.
The Professional Animal Scientist, our excellent applied, peer-reviewed journal, continues to grow under the fine leadership of Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Wayne Kellogg. Dr. Stacey Gunter also is providing outstanding support as an Associate Editor, and we have a well-qualified Editorial Board in addition to numerous “at-large” reviewers. The journal is an essential part of the educational support we provide to our members, but it also serves an important role in the academic community by meeting the needs for a high-quality outlet for applied research in animal agriculture.
Finally, ARPAS chapters continue to do well. They provide terrific networking and educational opportunities to ARPAS members, and they are increasingly becoming grassroots organizations for drawing new members (especially graduate students) into ARPAS. As the chapters continue to grow, ARPAS and its influence on the professional animal science community will continue to grow.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as President of ARPAS. Looking back on the past year, I regret that I have not done all I might have hoped to do, but I am confident that the organization is in good shape with a bright future. I know President Jack Garrett will do an outstanding job of leading the organization during 2014 and 2015, with President-Elect Bob Wettemann standing ready continue the move forward in 2015 and beyond. Along with this fine leadership and an outstanding Governing Council and Executive Vice President, ARPAS is in good hands!
Michael Galyean, PAS, Dipl. ACAS