Recognizing the efforts of two longtime U.S. Animal Health Association members, the 126-year-old USAHA awarded the prestigious Medal of Distinction to Annette Jones, California State Veterinarian, and Boyd Parr, retired South Carolina State Veterinarian, at their annual meeting. The award is given to members who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, provided exemplary service and made significant contributions to USAHA.
Jones has served as California State Veterinarian and director of the Animal Health and Food Safety Services Division since 2010. She was elected treasurer of USAHA in 2011, serving on the executive committee for eight years providing leadership wherever needed. Her background in business was key in the further development of USAHA's financial practices for a continued sound financial standing, with transparency and common-sense guidelines. Jones' experience as state veterinarian also helped the USAHA Executive Committee address issues arising during her term. Her balanced and fair-minded approach was key in asking the tough questions and seeking the best solutions for all members.
Parr's contribution to USAHA came through both the national leadership role, serving as president in 2016-2017, and through the regional Southern Animal Health Association. He served South Carolina as the state veterinarian from Clemson University for 17 years before retiring this past year. Known for his broad and deep institutional knowledge of USAHA, Parr has helped many committees with both advice and hard work. His keen eye for detail and organizational aptitude has been invaluable to USAHA, committees, and the regional associations. Mentoring new members and new state veterinarians, one of his shared gifts, encouraged them to join USAHA to further their work in serving livestock producers.
"Honoring these two outstanding longtime members for their contributions is both an honor and privilege," said Dusty Oedekoven, USAHA president and chief veterinarian at the National Pork Board. "Both gave to the organizations with varied skill sets to help us grow and meet the needs of the both the organizations and the industries we serve. We appreciate their contributions."
In addition to the Medal of Distinction awards, USAHA's Federal Partnership Award went to L. Mia Kim Torchetti, supervisory veterinary medical officer for the Diagnostic Virology Laboratory: Avian Section Head for the National Veterinary Services Laboratory. She has consistently contributed outstanding service to the betterment of animal health in the United States, most notably during the 2015 and 2022 highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks. Her work with state officials and industry partners is appreciated by all. Torchetti has also been recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health as a laboratory expert for avian influenza, swine influenza and Newcastle disease.
Other awards presented at the event were the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Administrator Award and the National Assembly of State Animal Health Official’s Service Award. Paul Zajicek, executive director of the National Aquaculture Association was presented the Administrator's award by APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea. The National Assembly of State Animal Officials presented Valerie Koenig, epidemiology officer for New England with USDA APHIS Veterinary Services, NASAHO's Service Award.
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