July 31, 2012

ASAS officers sum up 2011-2012

At the ASAS business meeting on July 18, several ASAS board members gave presentations on the work of the society’s committees. ASAS membership is at an all-time high, and several board members discussed what that means for ASAS programs.

Membership and outreach

Margaret Benson, outgoing ASAS president, explained that international membership has increased by 21 percent since 2008. As international membership grows, the society will produce more webinars and webchats.

In the last few years, ASAS has also sponsored several international meetings. Benson said the joint meeting last October with the Argentina Association of Animal Production (AAPA) was “a popular and valuable scientific meeting.” Benson said ASAS will continue to work closely with AAPA, the Canadian Society of Animal Science, and the Brazilian Animal Science Society. Benson said ASAS is also sponsoring three conferences in the Pacific Rim this year.

Strategic Plan

Ronnie Green, outgoing ASAS past president, introduced attendees to the “revamped” ASAS Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan was originally created by the ASAS Board of Directors in 2008, and the goal was to carry out the plan by 2014. Green said ASAS decided to take another look at the plan because many of the goals were accomplished ahead of schedule.

“This plan has been regularly used and lived-by by the board,” Green said. “We perhaps needed to take a look at whether we needed to build a new one.”

The new version of the Strategic Plan has an addendum with new goals for membership services, communications and the ASAS Foundation.

“The Foundation will raise a second million dollars,” said Green.

Public Policy

Debora Hamernik, ASAS director-at-large, discussed the work of the ASAS Public Policy Committee. In 2011-2012, members of the committee shared resources with several federal agencies. In 2011, animal scientists Dean Hawkins and Jim Pettigrew met with the EPA to hold two workshops on the impact of animal agriculture on the environment.

“We plan to continue those,” Hamernik said.

Hamernik said the committee is also working with USAID to include livestock programs in the running for competitive “Feed the Future” grants. Because of the huge impact of large retailers on the livestock market, Hamernik added the committee plans to meet more with the retail sector in the future.

Publications and communications

Journal of Animal Science editor-in-chief Steve Zinn gave an update on ASAS publications. He said the Journal of Animal Science (JAS) continues to have the highest impact factor of the journals in its category. Zinn said the biggest news from JAS this year was the switch to the ACSESS publishing group.

JAM 2012 marked the first anniversary of the launch of the review magazine Animal Frontiers. Zinn said the magazine, which is co-published by the European and Canadian Societies, has been well received.

“Animal Frontiers might be the most exciting new venture ASAS has launched in a number of years,” added Benson.

Debra Aaron, outgoing chair of the ASAS communications committee, talked about the need for the new AnimalSmart.org. The site presents animal science news and resources to a general audience. Visitors to AnimalSmart.org can also find science-based information on “hot topic” issues like animal welfare and food safety.

“We have an obligation to make sure the general public has the information,” Aaron said.

The resources include videos and articles that could be especially helpful for students and teachers.

Aaron also announced a call-for-submissions to the Educators’ Toolbox. This online journal is peer-reviewed. Aaron said young faculty looking to publish should consider submitting their research and classroom resources.

“That is an excellent place where they can publish,” Aaron said.

The future of ASAS

After so much focus on the increased ASAS membership, Director-at-Large Harvey Freetly reminded the attendees that the future of ASAS is “not all about numbers.”

“We’re talking about providing services,” Freetly said.

Freetly said ASAS is working to communicate more with industry and student members. This shift represents changing demographics and career options in the field of animal science. Freetly said it is important to offer services that will motivate undergraduate members to rejoin at the graduate student and professional levels.

“How do we keep them connected with our organization?” Freetly asked.

Joint Annual Meeting report

Clint Krehbiel, outgoing chair of the JAM programming committee, said the JAM 2012 had a record number of attendees. There were 3,117 registered attendees this year, an increase of 50 since 2011. The 2012 meeting included 2,119 poster or oral presentations. Krehbiel said attendance from more foreign scientists has helped the meeting grow.

“It’s a great thing to interact more with the foreign societies,” he said.

Krehbiel encouraged JAM attendees to submit symposia for next year.

ASAS Foundation

Dave Casper, ASAS Foundation chair, said member support has funded several new appreciation clubs. The Gary Allee Appreciation Club was fully funded last year, and the first Allee symposium was held at the ADSA-ASAS Midwestern Meeting in March, 2012.

Increased funding to the Zimbelman-Hafs Clubs allowed two public policy interns to work in Washington this year. Casper said the Jack Britt Appreciation Club is close to fully funded.

Casper also announced the creation of the Gordon Dickerson Appreciation Club. He added that the ASAS Foundation plans to endow more ASAS awards at future meetings.

Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS)

Jerry Weigel, ASAS representative to FASS, said that FASS is currently working on a new business plan. Weigel said FASS is also working on increasing influence in science policy, and FASS published three new policy statements in 2011-2012. Representatives from FASS have also met with NIH to discuss new ways to get funding for research.

Weigel said a big project this year for FASS was the Farm Animal Integrated Research (FAIR) conference in March, 2012. He said FAIR got “raving reviews” from both scientists and policy officials in attendance. He said the “raw” report can be read at fass.org. A more polished “marketing document” will be available soon.

The business meeting concluded with the passing of the gavel from President Margaret Benson to President-elect Jim Sartin.