The American Association of Swine Veterinarians honored some of its own during the association’s 51st Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Ga.
Joel Nerem was named the 2020 Swine Practitioner of the Year and Wesley Lyons was named Young Swine Veterinarian of the Year.
A West Union, Iowa, native, Nerem received his bachelor of arts degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Iowa State University. Nerem began his career as a mixed-animal veterinarian at the Postville Veterinary Clinic in Postville, Iowa, in 1996, before joining the Harmony Veterinary Clinic in Harmony, Minn. He recognized a passion for swine veterinary medicine, and in 2001 went to work for Christensen Family Farms in Sleepy Eye, Minn. In 2006, he joined Pipestone Veterinary Services where he currently serves as the chief veterinary officer, instilling a culture of veterinary leadership and service to the 46 veterinarians he leads.
Many recognize Nerem’s proficiency and effectiveness in his delivery of veterinary services. He is well-respected by both colleagues and clients. Dedicated to the profession, he is frequently sought after for idea-generating discussions, collaboration and second opinions. Listening carefully, asking questions, and communicating effectively to reach goals ensures Nerem builds and establishes trust with everyone he works with. He uses critical thinking to make evidence-based and data-driven decisions to provide the best outcome for pig and producer, always considering the well-being of both.
Nerem exhibits a passion for key issues facing the swine industry and an unmatched ability to transform those issues into new initiatives to address animal and public health concerns. For example, Nerem is a strong voice in promoting responsible antibiotic use in swine and decreasing antimicrobial resistance. He oversees the Pipestone Antimicrobial Resistance Tracker initiative, which was developed to engage the Pipestone System and Pipestone Veterinary Services customers in the areas of antimicrobial resistance surveillance and antibiotic use.
Asked to comment about receiving this award, Nerem says, “I am truly humbled and honored to be named the 2020 Swine Practitioner of the Year. This award is reflective of the great people who have invested in me throughout my career: mentors, farmer clients, business partners, colleagues, family and friends. I am truly blessed by the opportunity to do what I do every day, and I would not be the person I am today were it not for the impact these people have had on my life.”
Nerem lives in Edgerton, Minn., with his wife, Denise, and three children: Emily, Hannah, and Maren.
Swine Practitioner of the Year is given to the swine practitioner who has demonstrated an unusual degree of proficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of veterinary service to clients.
From Paris, Tenn., Lyons grew up in a mixed-animal veterinary life. The son of a mixed-animal veterinarian, Lyons knew early on that he wanted to be a veterinarian. Showing Romagnola beef cattle across the United States, showing livestock in 4-H and FFA, and serving as the Tennessee State FFA Treasurer helped to shape his life and career.
Lyons received a bachelor of science in animal science (2010) and his doctor of veterinary medicine (2014) from the University of Tennessee. A member of the Pipestone Veterinary Services team since 2016, he is currently the regional health director and oversees health and production recommendations for managed sow herds in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
An emerging leader in swine health and production, Lyons has served on the National Pork Board’s Animal Welfare Committee since 2015, participated in the National Pork Producers Council Veterinary Public Policy and Advocacy Program, served as a member of the 2019 Pig Welfare Symposium planning committee, and completed the Illinois Pork Producers Association’s Future Leaders Program.
During October 2019, Lyons shared his story of pork production and delivered the historic 10,000th Operation Mainstreet presentation to nurses at the Northern Illinois Chapter of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses Fall Forum in Rockford, Ill.
Lyons has been an AASV member since 2011 when he joined as a student. He continues to serve the organization in leadership roles, first as a member of the AASV Swine Health Committee and now vice-chair of the Committee on Transboundary and Emerging Diseases. He has a special interest in pig welfare and survivability.
Nominated for this award by mentors, colleagues and clients, all considered Lyons’ commitment to clients and veterinary skillset to be exceptional and enhanced by his personality and ability to form lasting relationships. Not only is Lyons an outstanding veterinarian striving to make evidence-based decisions for the best interest of animal and public health, he forms strong connections with clients and colleagues, making everyone feel valued. A client described Lyons as, “A very fine veterinarian, but even better human being.”
Upon acceptance of the award, Lyons comments, “I am both humbled and grateful to be selected for this honor. Being a swine veterinarian and getting the opportunity to work with family farmers has been fulfilling beyond expectation. Five years has flown by, and we’re just getting started!”
Lyons lives in Dekalb, Ill., with his husband, Preston.
Young Swine Veterinarian of the Year is given annually to an AASV member five or less years post-graduation who has demonstrated the ideals of exemplary service and proficiency early in his or her career.