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President's Message


 


“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ---Benjamin Franklin

As veterinary professionals, our education is likely one of the largest investments we’ve ever made. Many of us are still reminded of this every month when that hefty student loan payment comes out of our bank account. Gulp! But all joking aside, an education is not only one of the few things in life that no one can ever take away from us, it is also one investment that will always make us richer, whether that comes in the form of monetary wealth or something else. And many of us in the veterinary profession, myself included, consider ourselves to be lifelong learners. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has caught some grief from family and friends over the years about whether I was ever going to be done going to college or being a student. (As my recent enrollment in the University of Minnesota’s Master Naturalist course would indicate, the answer to that is a resounding “no”. And I’m ok with it!)

Knowledge is powerful and investing in our own education has a positive ripple effect. But when we invest in someone else’s education, that ripple effect is amplified. Not only does it support that individual person, but it supports their family, their career, and the future of our profession. I believe there is no better example of this than the support our veterinary students receive through scholarships from the IVMA Foundation. To demonstrate this, I recently caught up with two graduate veterinarians and past IVMA Foundation scholarship recipients, Drs. Chelsea Stewart and Lyle Wielenga, to ask them about the impact that support had on their lives and careers.

Dr. Stewart said “Every dollar I received from scholarships impacted my ability to knock out student debt, relieve financial stress, and give me a better mindset while at work. I started my career as a mixed animal practitioner in Northwest, IA, focusing primarily on cattle and pigs. Scholarships like the one from IVMA helped me focus on learning and growing during my first years in practice, rather than stressing (too much!) about bills and debt. After 6 years in mixed animal practice, I joined Christensen Farms, a family-owned pork production system based in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, with growing pig operations throughout Minnesota and Iowa. I still reside in Iowa and focus solely on swine production medicine. Being in Iowa and staying involved in the IVMA has been so beneficial and I'm so thankful for the mentorship and financial support I have received from the organization.”

Dr. Wielenga shared “I am currently a mixed animal practitioner at Valley Veterinary Clinic in Rock Valley, IA. I graduated in 2022 and am excited to be working in my hometown area after graduation. I focus on bovine medicine, but also see swine, sheep, goats, horses, chickens, dogs, cats, and most recently some ducks. The IVMA scholarship enabled me to focus on learning as much as I could in veterinary school instead of looking for more part time jobs during school. Moving into my career, the IVMA scholarship has lowered my debt burden and enabled me to focus on saving to buy into the practice and saving for our first home for our growing family. Thank you to all the generous donors that make this possible! You are laying the financial foundation for the next generation of veterinarians. Thank you!”

Thank you, Drs. Stewart and Wielenga, for sharing your personal stories and for demonstrating first-hand the impact that each of us can have when we donate to the IVMA Foundation. Without a doubt, it’s an investment worth making. To contribute to the IVMA Foundation, please contact the IVMA office at 800-369-9564 or visit www.iowavma.org and click on “IVMA Foundation”.

Now I know you’re probably asking yourself where my travel story is this month. So, in closing, I’d like to briefly share about one of the most impactful experiences I ever had as a veterinary student when I and three other SAVMA student representatives were sponsored to attend the Veterinary Leadership Experience at the beautiful Ross Point Camp and Conference Center in Post Falls, Idaho. Not only was there epic team-building over high ropes courses and trail runs, but the leadership knowledge and relationships we gained that week continue to have a positive ripple effect on our professional and personal lives to this day. I am forever grateful for the people and organizations that saw that as an investment worth making. Never underestimate the impact you can have on someone’s future.

Until next time,
Kristen Clark
Kristen.Clark@state.mn.us