Every part, of every day, of everyone’s life is in some way touched by a veterinarian. We serve an enormous role in the health, wellbeing, protection, and richness of humans and animals alike around the globe. Among our significant roles, are those that the public classically recognizes and understands: veterinarians prevent disease, cure infection, alleviate pain, and treat the injuries of man’s best friend and the animals raised to feed us. A far smaller sector of the population fully understands that we are also surgeons, radiologists, oncologists, dentists, behavioral specialists, microbiologists, parasitologists, epidemiologists, dermatologists, and pharmacists. But as our world becomes more intricate and increasingly interconnected economically and culturally, our responsibilities and obligations as veterinarians continue to grow, seemingly exponentially. We are educators and policymakers. We are conservationists and animal welfare advocates. We are stationed at laboratory benches around the world discovering and developing novel therapies for what were once terminal illnesses.
Of course, we also play a leading role in food safety and security. In 35 years, we will have 9.5 billion neighbors, and the global demand for animal-sourced protein will increase by 60%. Veterinarians will be on the front lines implementing innovative technologies that increase efficiencies in animal production and working to reduce pre-harvest wastes through improved animal health and care. We will be instrumental to producing more food in a way that uses less land, less water, less feed, and less energy while ensuring exceptional animal welfare. In my lifetime, I hope for a future where 25,000 people no longer die every day from hunger. Veterinarians will, without a doubt, be mission-critical in that pursuit.
Among these innumerable and critical tasks as veterinarians, we must also find time to advocate for our profession and illustrate the impact and relevancy of veterinary medicine in all aspects of life. By sharing our story, we have the best chance to be heard and understood by decision makers across the nation as they shape the policies that affect us and our mission. Right now, we have a remarkable opportunity to tell that story as the Indiana Animal Health Foundation works to make a vision a reality by constructing the VetPlex, a world class educational center located on the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
The VetPlex will be a contemporary, state-of-the-art facility with over 8,000 square feet to educate and engage over 1 million visitors year-round. It will bring attention to the importance of veterinary medicine in the lives of all people, highlighting our role in producing high-quality and wholesome animal-based protein, preventing zoonotic disease spread, advancing human health through biomedical research, and improving the efficiency of animal agriculture as well as the human-animal bond through the highest level of animal health and wellness. The VetPlex will encompass meeting and conference space, educational displays, an operating theater, interactive stations, and outdoor space for human and animal integration.
With much excitement, the IVMA Board of Directors has resolved to pledge $50,000 to support the project. Furthermore, the IVMA will also match any donations made by veterinarians or veterinary practices before the end of Purdue’s Veterinary Conference this September, up to an additional $50,000. Please join us in making this vision a reality in Indiana. Visit vetplex.net to learn about the project and make your donation today.
Dr. Maria Cooper