September 25, 2019

The Power of Participation in ASAS

The Power of Participation in ASAS

Matt Poore, NC State University Extension and Department of Animal Science

PooreYou have heard it said: "The world is run by the people that show up".  It is not clear who said it (and I found it attributed to a number of different authors) but it is true in almost every facet of life.  Our leaders are often not the smartest, the most talented or even the best qualified.  But, they took steps to put themselves in the right place at the right time, usually over and over again.  They showed up so often that they became part of a community that came to recognize that they "seem to be everywhere". They were the person who first came to mind when there was a need that was in anyway related to their talents.

As we move through our lives and careers it is important that we go out of our way to participate in activities and organizations that expose us to new perspectives, to network with others, and to contribute a portion of our energy to community efforts.  We all know folks that will only put their passion into their own focused efforts.  They often end up "successful", but miss out on some key opportunities to become imbedded in a community because they thought most community efforts were just not important enough to make their calendar.  

As you evaluate where you are at in your career, think about your contributions to professional organizations.  Most of us are active in some kind of a professional organization; one of mine is the American Society of Animal Science, and it is a great organization to be involved in.   There are many benefits to being a member including having access to our world class journals, and the great meetings ASAS organizes.

The Journal of Animal Science remains one of the top journals in the field, and recent improvements in the Journal will lead to increased impact factor which will lead to an even stronger reputation than what we already enjoy.  In recent years we have also instituted a new journal, Translational Animal Science, which broadens the opportunity for more of our members to publish, including; applied research, case studies, extension and teaching activities, and commercial product development studies.  It also opens up opportunities for all members to publish in a totally open access journal.

Meeting opportunities include the national ASAS meeting each summer, and the Sectional meetings.  This allows members to interact both in a large internationally significant meeting as well as smaller more intimate meetings.  The national meeting is a great opportunity to meet up with old friends we made in graduate school, or at other stages of our career, and to participate in symposia featuring the best presenters on the focused topic.  The sectional meetings tend to be more focused and regional in nature, and are an ideal place to build the relationships that will last a lifetime.  Sectional meetings will also remain a key opportunity for graduate and undergraduate student training.

The meetings and the journals are the most obvious member benefits, but alone may not be enough to drive you to be a perennial member for the rest of your productive life.  There are other member benefits including access to on-line resources and eligibility for societal awards, but the biggest benefit I see of continued membership in ASAS is the opportunity to ‘”build a career”. 

Building a career is a lot different than just having a job or making a living.  There are many definitions to “career” but as I studied it the one I like best is “pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life”.  Back to the focus of this article and the power of participation.  When a young person enters our field, they usually want to get established, build a reputation, and then eventually grow and develop to the point they get involved in increasingly more challenging and rewarding pursuits.  They are drawn to Animal Science as a way to reach fulfillment by doing all you can with your life and to make a contribution to mankind.  If you truly buy that ideal, being a lifetime member of ASAS is an obvious critical strategy that will help you achieve that goal.  Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, are involved in the animal industries, or have an academic or governmental position, becoming part of our community and staying in it is an obvious strategy to building that successful career. 

I have been a member of ASAS for over 35 years now, and my participation has put me in position to be on program committees, to be a sectional officer, and eventually to serve as a member of the national board.  I never would have realized those opportunities if I had not been a perennial participant in both the national and my sectional meeting, had not published most of my work in JAS, and continued to show up and contribute even after ending a specific leadership role.  Through all these activities of “career building” I have made many friends and contacts that have led me to the next opportunity. 

If you are a student, an early or mid-career animal scientist, or even are late career, there are great benefits to participating as an active member of ASAS.  There are many things you can do to build your career, but fully participating in your professional organization is among the most important.  I encourage you to join me and the very many “members for life” that have built and sustained our organization and profession.