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AASV honors six members for contributions to swine industry

Awards included Swine Practitioner of the Year, Howard Dunne Memorial Award and Outstanding Swine Academic of the Year.

March 8, 2023

13 Min Read
AASV 23 Awards.jpg
Courtesy of Sherrie Webb

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians honored six members for their contributions to the association and the swine industry. Nathan Winkelman, 2019 AASV president and 2023 Awards Selection Committee chair, introduced the recipients during the March 6, 2023, awards reception at the 54th AASV Annual Meeting, held in Aurora, Colorado.

Swine Practitioner of the Year
Tara Donovan was named the 2023 Swine Practitioner of the Year. The award is given to the swine practitioner who has demonstrated an unusual degree of proficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of veterinary service to clients. Growing up on a diversified livestock farm near Loup City, Nebraska, Donovan never wavered in her desire to work with farm animals later in life. Her advocacy for agriculture started early as a member of 4-H, a Nebraska State FFA officer and a recipient of the American FFA Degree.

Donovan earned her bachelor of science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and DVM from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She also completed a food-animal medicine internship at Kanas -State University. She is currently enrolled in the master of veterinary science program at the University of Illinois.

Donovan is the vice president of health and management for HANOR Company, where she oversees the veterinary management for 85,000 sows and 1.9 million grow-finish pigs. She is responsible for preventive health programs, pharmaceutical management and compliance, animal caregiver training and on-farm swine health practices. She is appreciated for her ability to provide and communicate science-based and realistic recommendations for the animals under her care. She is well known for networking her peers for knowledge sharing about a disease or on-farm animal care practices.

Truly a devoted servant leader, Donovan has dedicated countless volunteer hours to AASV. She has served on the Transboundary and Emerging and Infectious Diseases, Human Health and Safety, Pig Welfare, and Pharmaceutical Issues Committees, the PRRS Task Force, the Center for Veterinary Biologics AASV working group. She represented AASV in the American Veterinary Medical Association House of Delegates and is currently a state delegate for the Swine Health Improvement Program. She served as AASV president in 2012.

Donovan has been recognized for her service and dedication to swine medicine by other organizations. She is a recipient of the Iowa State University Science in Practice award, the Kansas State University Gentle Doctor award, the Wisconsin Pork Association Agri-Communicator award and the Wisconsin Pork Association Distinguished Service Award.

Asked to share her thoughts about receiving this award, Donovan replied, "I am deeply honored to receive this award. I'm grateful to all the wonderful people at The HANOR Company whom I have had the privilege to work with the past 24 years. Thank you to all of my friends, colleagues and mentors at the AASV for teaching me as I learned along the way and to my family for their love and support."

While Donovan's list of professional achievements is impressive, she is most proud of her family. She and her husband, Dirk, who is also a large-animal veterinarian, have two children, Gus and Tekla. She considers seeing her children grow into adulthood to be her greatest accomplishment.

Howard Dunne Memorial Award
Joseph Connor received the American Association of Swine Veterinarians' 2023 Howard Dunne Memorial Award. The award recognizes an AASV member who has made important contributions and provided outstanding service to the association and the swine industry.

The Carthage, Illinois native was always interested in livestock and farming and gravitated to swine because of an interest in population medicine and epidemiology. Connor received his BS and DVM from the University of Illinois, and his MS from the University of Minnesota.

Connor founded Carthage Veterinary Service, LTD after purchasing the CVS practice in 1980. A leading swine veterinarian in the world, he considered it a privilege to be involved in the swine industry during a time of significant transformation and assisted producers in other countries wanting to see similar transformations. He was recognized for his international efforts by being named the first honorary member of the Japanese Association of Swine in 2008.

A true leader in swine health, Connor has led the AASV for decades. After serving on the AASV Board of Directors, he was elected president of the association in 1988. He continues to serve the association as a member of the Transboundary and Emerging Diseases Committee, and Foundation Investment Committee. Colleagues regard Connor as an icon in the swine industry and are grateful for his tremendous contributions and outstanding service to the AASV.

Connor has been recognized by his peers for his exemplary service to swine medicine as the AASV Swine Practitioner of the Year (1995) and as the recipient of the Allen D. Leman Science in Practice Award (2004). He was inducted into the PIC Hall of Fame in 2016 and more recently into the Swine Web Hall of Fame.

He has contributed to the greater knowledge of swine medicine for veterinarians and producers as a featured speaker and author of countless peer-reviewed journal articles, abstracts, educational manuals and book chapters. He delivered both the Alex Hogg Memorial Lecture and Howard Dunne Memorial Lecture at past AASV Annual Meetings.

When asked to comment on what the award means to him, Connor said, "I am incredibly humbled and honored to receive the Howard Dunne Memorial Award and have my name added to the list of AASV icons who have served and guided the swine veterinary community through the years. I am indebted to countless mentors, colleagues and friends who have educated and challenged me along this journey. I would like to thank our clients and industry friends, my veterinary group, and above all my family for contributing support to me in countless ways."

Meritorious Service Award
David Brown was named the 2023 recipient of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians' Meritorious Service award. The award recognizes individuals who have provided outstanding service to the AASV.

Brown, AASV's longest-serving employee, is the association's webmaster and information technology specialist. By chance, the New York native applied for a desktop publishing position at the University of Minnesota. The employer was Bob Morrison seeking help to start a new journal for the American Association of Swine Practitioners. Over the years, Brown adapted his work for the AASV to focus on the increasing number of services offered online, including the Journal of Swine Health and Production.

As expected of a recipient of the Meritorious Service award, Brown has worked tirelessly for the AASV. He has been instrumental in many facets of the membership interface, including the Journal of Swine Health and Production, weekly electronic newsletter, website, online commerce, the triennial salary survey, Annual Meeting proceedings, Annual Meeting recordings, student podcasts and general communications. Every AASV member has benefited from Brown's dedicated service.

Grateful for the association, Brown stated, "It has been a pleasure to grow professionally along with the AASV's changing needs for more than half my (and its) life."

Brown's wife, Rebecca, and daughter, Sophia, have also worked for AASP/AASV over the years.

Brown earned his BA from St. Olaf College and later an MS from the University of Rhode Island. In addition to his work at AASV, Brown is a part-time faculty member at the University of Rhode Island where he teaches software engineering. He also develops the hardware, electronics, software, documentation and manufacturing process for the University of Rhode Island Laser Scarecrow, a component of Rebecca Brown's research program.

Outstanding Swine Academic of the Year
Gary Althouse was named the 2023 recipient of the Outstanding Swine Academic of the Year award. The award is given annually to an AASV member employed in academia who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and service to the swine veterinary profession. Faculty members, graduate students and researchers are eligible to receive this award.

Althouse received his BS from Sul Ross State University, his MS from Texas A&M University, and his DVM and PhD from Iowa State University. He is a board-certified specialist in the American College of Theriogenologists.

Althouse joined the School of Veterinary Medicine faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001. In 2011, he was named the Marion Dilley and David George Jones Endowed Chair in Animal Reproduction. In 2019, Althouse was appointed Associate Dean of Sustainable Agriculture and Veterinary Practices.

With focused efforts on global food supply and food security, Althouse is the founder and director of Penn Vet's Reference Andrology Laboratory which provides both critical research and clinical services in large-animal production. He currently provides services to clientele throughout North America with a direct impact on about one-third of the U.S. swine breeding herd. He is currently the attending veterinarian for the largest multi-genetics boar stud system in North America with health and production flow oversight of facilities located in three states. Globally, he provides veterinary consultation services in the remaining Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Collectively, these experiences are woven into Althouse's teaching, research and outreach efforts in the areas of swine production medicine and theriogenology.

Peers praise Althouse for being exceptionally influential in advancements in assisted reproductive technologies and boar stud management. His initial work in establishing quality standards for boar semen led to advances in automated evaluation and quality control systems. He has also helped many swine veterinarians work through sow farm reproductive issues.

Althouse has a long history of service to the AASV as a member of the Swine Health Management, Program Planning, Boar Stud, and Collegiate Activities Committees. In addition to his service to AASV, he has served on committees for the International Pig Veterinary Society and International Conference on Boar Semen Preservation. He is a past president of both the Society for Theriogenology and the American College of Theriogenologists.

Appreciative of his career in academia, Althouse stated, "My work as a clinician scientist in academia has been personally fulfilling. Generating new knowledge, solving problems in the field, and developing and mentoring our future colleagues are the pillars of my career. The AASV's recognition of these efforts reinforces my passion and commitment to the profession."

Technical Services/Allied Industry Veterinarian of the Year
Lisa Becton received the American Association of Swine Veterinarians' Technical Services/Allied Industry Veterinarian of the Year award. This award recognizes swine industry veterinarians who have demonstrated an unusual degree of proficiency and effectiveness in delivery of veterinary service to their companies and their clients, as well as given tirelessly in service to the AASV and the swine industry.

Becton received her BS from Lenoir-Rhyne College, DVM from North Carolina State University, MS from Michigan State University, and a public health certificate in field epidemiology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventative Medicine.

Even without a background in farming, Becton never doubted her career; from a young age, she was set on becoming a veterinarian. After connecting with veterinary mentors in the swine industry as a student, her path led her to swine internships and swine research projects. She has been involved in swine production ever since graduation.

Since 2008, Becton has dedicated her career as a subject-matter expert in swine health and production. As the National Pork Board Director of Swine Health, she has oversight of the producer and veterinary task force for swine health research, which includes identifying and funding key project areas; developing and delivering resources related to domestic and foreign animal diseases of swine; coordinating and promoting surveillance activities, depopulation, and disposal techniques; and collaborating with external organizations on key areas identified by producers as priorities for swine health.

She is valued for her incredible historic knowledge of the National Pork Board funded research projects and her ability to use those research results to lead the creation of key materials for producers and veterinarians.

Becton's extensive voluntary service and leadership on AASV committees began when she joined AASV over 20 years ago. She has served on the AASV Pharmaceutical Issues Committee and is a long-time member of the AASV Transboundary and Emerging Diseases Committee and PPRS Task Force. She serves the industry as a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee, the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program Consultation Board, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Advanced Animal System Advisory Council, the U.S. Animal Vaccinology Coordination Network Advisory Board, and the U.S. Animal Health Association Committee on Swine.

Upon acceptance of the award, Becton commented, "I am very humbled and honored by this award and by the support of the veterinary and producer community. Working in the agriculture sector fuels my passion for swine medicine and research. I am grateful every day to have the opportunity to assist producers and veterinarians as they manage pork production!"

Becton lives in North Carolina where she enjoys the outdoors and riding motorcycles to sample BBQ and seafood with her husband Gordon. They have two Labradors, Mongo and Charlie, and a Frenchie, Mick.

Young Swine Veterinarian of the Year
The American Association of Swine Veterinarians' Young Swine Veterinarian of the Year award was presented to Jessica Davenport. The award is given annually to an AASV member five or less years post veterinary graduation who has demonstrated the ideals of exemplary service and proficiency early in their career.

A Charleston, South Carolina native, Davenport received her BS from Clemson University (2012) and DVM from the University of Georgia (2017). She first became interested in swine during a swine production internship while at Clemson. She further solidified her interest in swine through a veterinary internship with Smithfield, an internship with the Swine Medicine Education Center, and several swine veterinary rotations and preceptorships during her clinical year at the University of Georgia. Davenport was recognized for her dedication to swine medicine with the Food Animal Production Medicine Clinical Proficiency Award.

Davenport is currently a staff veterinarian for JBS Live Pork where she is responsible for the health of more than 60,000 sows, gilt multiplication, and nursery and grow-finish. Additionally, she oversees specialty health management programs and disease management strategies for her region.

Nominated for this award by many mentors, colleagues and clients, all spoke to Davenport's innate qualities and abilities, especially in communication. She has a unique ability to interact with and read and understand individuals. She expresses empathy, humility, and sincerity in every situation.

Davenport partners with the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine's food-animal production rotation to expose veterinary students to swine medicine and production and provide on-farm experiential opportunities. Her passion for cultivating student interest in swine medicine will help recruit and retain the next generation of swine veterinarians.

Distinctive for someone early in their professional career is Davenport's commitment to servant leadership. She is a member of the AASV Pig Welfare Committee, chair of the AASV Communications Committee, and the Missouri delegate to the Swine Health Improvement Plan.

As stated in one of her nomination letters, she truly embodies the entire mission of the AASV.

Upon acceptance of the award, Davenport commented, "I am extremely humbled and honored to have been selected as the 2023 AASV Young Swine Veterinarian of the Year. To be recognized for such an esteemed award is truly a privilege, as I work alongside some incredible individuals within this industry that I hold so much admiration and respect for. I would not be the person or the veterinarian that I am today without the support from my family, my peers and the team within JBS Live Pork. To be successful with the pigs, you have to be passionate about the people, and JBS has truly allowed me the independence to cultivate those relationships with the producers and colleagues that I work with. This award is a direct reflection of the caliber of people that have mentored and guided me in my early years, and I am excited to see what the future holds."

Davenport resides in central Missouri with her fur and feathered children: two dogs, three cats and five laying hens.

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