Commentary: The Benefits of Joining Your Association’s Executive Board

AAEVT President-Elect Eli Olind, LVT, explains how executive board involvement has helped develop his community, empowerment, and tenacity.
AAEVT President-Elect Eli Olind, LVT
AAEVT President-Elect Eli Olind, LVT

As I was wrapping up my high school career, I honestly had no idea where I wanted to go with my future. All I had on my mind was rodeo, but I also knew my talent level was not high enough to make a living at it.

With graduation approaching, I had an opportunity to tour Eastern Wyoming College (EWC). Going through the different degrees offered and speaking with teachers, the only degree offered that seemed to spark my interest was the Veterinary Technology Program. Patti Sue Peterson and Dr. Susan Walker, who were teachers in that program at the time, were very straight to the point and told it like it was, which also made me feel like that was a program I would click with. So, a few weeks before graduating high school I decided to attend EWC, get an AAS in Veterinary Technology, and compete on EWC’s rodeo team.

Graduating from EWC in December of 2010, I was set to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) and join the workforce as a CrVT. In 2011 I joined the Big Sky Veterinary Technician Association (BSVTA) and became a CVT in Montana. When I joined the BSVTA, I knew I would attend CE meetings, but I had no way of knowing just how much that association would impact my career as a veterinary technician and lead me to becoming part of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants (AAEVT). I had zero aspirations of being in a leadership position of an association, but all that changed in 2013 while attending a CE event hosted by the BSVTA. 

BSVTA Executive Board

At that meeting, the BSVTA was on the verge of fully dissolving, which in turn would mean there would be no credentialing of veterinary technicians in Montana. At that meeting a few of us in attendance put our hands in the air and volunteered to create a new executive board and rebuild the association. By sticking my hand in the air and saying YES to a challenge regarding an association, my career in veterinary technology has taken many pathways and opened up networking opportunities I never would have dreamt of. Saying yes to these challenges has helped build my resume in additional ways besides my skill sets as an LVT, be part of a larger community in the veterinary world, feel a higher level of empowerment in my career, and find a level of tenacity that I never knew was in me on facing difficult conversations regarding veterinary technology’s future.

Since 2013 I have played a large role in rebuilding the BSVTA into a strong association that works closely with the Montana Veterinary Medical Association. We have been able to pass legislation for the licensure of veterinary technicians under the Montana State Veterinary Board, build a “Scope of Practice” for LVTs to be used to a higher level in Montana, and add a seat to Montana’s veterinary board to be held by an LVT.

AAEVT Membership

In January 2020, the BSVTA invited Deb Reeder, RVT, VTS-EVN, Executive Director of the AAEVT from 2002-2022, to speak at one of our CE events on building your career as a veterinary technician. At that time, we were also able to get Deb lined up to speak at the MVMA CE meeting that was happening at the same time on technician utilization. It was at that BSVTA CE event that I was introduced to the AAEVT and became a member. A whole new world of networking with another group of amazing technicians, assistants, and support staff took off.

Since 2020, I have been attending AAEVT events and getting to meet individuals who have become great friends. That is one of my favorite things about the AAEVT. Just about every person you meet in this organization you become instant friends with and share the same passion for being the best for our equine patients that we can be. 

Leadership Roles Within AAEVT

In the fall of 2022, I was approached by the Regional Director to see if I would be interested in becoming a Regional Contact for the AAEVT. After spending the last 10 years in leadership of the BSVTA and conquering some amazing goals, I was ready for a new challenge, so I said yes. As a Regional Contact, I oversaw communications with the members in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. This was fantastic networking and brought some firsts to my career, such as being on an episode of “Kendra the Vet Tech” podcast. It is so wonderful to get to meet the members in your region in person when you attend an AAEVT event. In the fall of 2023, I was contacted by Wiss Costanza, current executive director of the AAEVT, as I had been voted on by the executive board to become the 2024 President-Elect. 

Even though I had been in leadership of an association for several years, I was still quite nervous about saying yes to accepting a leadership position with a national organization. I had fallen into a comfort zone of dealing with veterinary technician advancement at the state level. Falling into a comfort zone is what can make your career stagnant though, so I needed to tap into the community, the empowerment, and the tenacity that I had developed over my years of leading the BSVTA and bring that to the AAEVT.

In my President-Elect year for the AAEVT, I will be helping the executive board accomplish goals to advance the equine veterinary team, work with equine veterinary industry partners, set up case studies and wet labs for the AAEVT’s national conference to be held in conjunction with the AAEP’s conference in Orlando, Florida, in December 2024, and assist wherever the executive board needs me to. 

Final Thoughts

Saying yes to becoming an executive board member of the AAEVT has introduced me to a larger community within the veterinary world and allowed me to grow my network and feel more empowerment in my leadership abilities to help improve an industry that is so close to our hearts.

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