Our fourth and last week of the AVMA GRD externship program has been scary in that I feel like there is so much more for me to learn, but it has also been marked by some great personal achievements. While I have really enjoyed learning more about the executive offices in our government, it was really the legislative process and our role in it that attracted me to this externship. During last year’s Fly-In, I realized that I really enjoyed learning about the issues and teaching staffers about our profession so that they could better understand how legislation impacted veterinarians. This year, I was able to accompany one of our students to the New York offices. She did an excellent job; the staffers were very responsive to her points. Nevertheless, I realized that four weeks of working with these topics and my background as an upstate New Yorker has made me a lot more knowledgeable and familiar with the agricultural fabric of our state economy, and I was able to supply more detailed answers if they were needed. It really was eye opening how much I have learned in these four weeks, and I’m really appreciative to have had this experience.
The legislative process is by no means limited to topic meetings. This week I was able to participate in some other key events. On Monday, I went to my senator’s office and obtained a gallery pass. With that, I was able to observe the Senate Floor and see Governor Sonny Perdue confirmed as our Secretary of Agriculture. Additionally, one night this week, I attended a PAC dinner on behalf of the AVMA for Representative David Young from Iowa. Not only was the food amazing, but also I learned about how PAC events can give organizations better visibility. I met a lot of other interesting people and learned about their backgrounds, and after the meeting, I was able to talk with the Congressman one-on-one. We discussed how, earlier that day, several veterinary students from ISU had met with him through our Fly-In program. He really enjoyed the visit, and he was able to better see how our organization impacted him at home as some of them were his constituents. Furthermore, we were able to thank him in person for cosponsoring the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act.
Finally, this week, Patricia and I were able to meet with two of our congressional veterinarians: Drs. Kurt Schrader and Ted Yoho. Dr. Yoho even asked us what we would like to see the federal government offer to the American people! It was a couple of wonderful visits and a really good way to close the legislative experience of this externship.