The following citation was given by Dr. Keith Sterner at the presentation of this prestigious award to Dr. Don Gardner of Huddleston, Va. Congratulations and thanks for your service to the dairy industry of Virginia.
Of all the achievements that AABP recognizes from its membership, the Bovine Practitioner of the Year most symbolizes the heart and soul of this great organization because it allows for accolades to be properly accorded to an individual practitioner working to make a tangible difference for their clients in the commercial world. In virtually every instance, these individuals have not only excelled in the world of veterinary practice but also in their local communities and states as well. This year’s nominee is no exception to that tradition of excellence and it is my distinct pleasure to briefly outline a few of this individual’s accomplishments.
Our 2011 awardee was born in Oklahoma and grew up on a ranch where his close proximity to livestock, both beef and dairy, provided him with the inspiration to attend veterinary school, as well as a deeply ingrained work ethic and pragmatic approach to problem solving. He graduated from Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1970, but unlike the traditional migrational advice of heading west, this young man and his classmate wife Susan headed east to accept a job in a mixed practice in Roanoke, Virginia. From there they established their own mixed animal practice in Bedford County, Virginia. It was here that our nominee began developing the skill set for a career in production medicine. In 1980 the practice was sold and our nominee’s wife retired for the first time to help with their ancillary farm operation and to raise their first son, Andy. In addition to the practice, their farming operation included a cow calf component and the birth of a second son, Sam. During this time, our nominee honed his production medicine skills at virtually every annual AABP meeting and his face is a familiar one to most of us, as he has been very active on several committees, most particularly the animal welfare committee. When there have been is-sues dealing with drug availability and dispensing he is often seen and heard taking a stand in public forums for doing the right thing, and this includes admonishing regulatory authorities to be more forceful in addressing and enforcing some of the more egregious violations that have been well known to the average practicing veterinarian. He has been active in the Virginia Academy of Food Animal Practice, serving as its president and is currently its long standing secretary-treasurer. He was named the 2006 Milk and Beef Quality Assurance Program Veterinarian of the Year, and currently serves on the Bedford County Agricultural Advisory Board. Their farm and replacement heifer facilities have been the recipients of numerous awards for quality and conservation practices. Perhaps our nominee’s most obvious notoriety with fellow bovine practitioners stems from his involvement in developing and refining the Professional Dairy Calf and Heifer Association into the sophisticated organization it is today. He was a charter member of their board of directors and has served in many of their office positions including treasurer and president. He was awarded DCHA’s highest honor, the Roger Cady Award for Leadership, Dedication and Perseverance, in 2004.
In addition to all of his veterinary and civic related activities, our nominee actually does spend a bit of personal time outside of veterinary medicine and occupies those rare moments with gardening, fishing and shooting sports—be it clays or pheasants and ducks with family and friends.
I feel very fortunate to be able to call him both colleague and friend and value his great good judgment and common sense approach to problem solving as he always seems to see straight to the heart of an issue. Anyone that is on AABPL can see from his regular posts that he is not afraid to ‘call them as he sees them’.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
January 2, 2012