My name is Ashley Ferguson and I am the OVMA senior delegate for the SAVMA chapter at Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I recently had the honor to fly directly to Washington D.C. and lobby on behalf of the AVMA and OVMA.
Before we took on Capitol Hill, I had the pleasure to hear from veterinarians who currently hold seats in Congress, Dr. Schrader and Dr. Yoho. They spoke to us about the importance of veterinary involvement in legislation. Every day there is legislation introduced that could harm, impede or change our profession. Without a constant presence in Capital Hill, these bills can possibly become laws, and our profession would be negatively impacted. That is why it is very important we unite as a strong presence on Capitol Hill and lobby for our profession.
During my time there I spoke to representatives and senators regarding three bills: One Health, funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and an employer repayment act for veterinary student loans. I also had the pleasure of personally speaking with Oklahoma Representative Frank Lucas, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe and Oklahoma Senator James Lankford as well as Massachusetts Representative Joseph Kennedy, Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
While I was in D.C. I heard a quote which really reinforced to me how important it is to be involved in politics; it was “if you aren’t sitting at the table then you are probably on the menu”. I never want the profession I love so dearly to be underrepresented and changed by people who do not understand veterinary medicine. While I would prefer our profession to not be on the menu, but if it is, at least we can all sit at the table together!
I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to attend this event. I must say during my time there it made me extremely proud to be a veterinary student, heading into a career and profession I am so passionate about. It also made me proud to be the OVMA SAVMA representative, which allows me to be involved with the OVMA Board of Directors. But even more, it made me appreciate being an American, where we have a legislative process and the opportunity to voice our opinions and represent our profession.