As the newly installed WVC Food Animal Education Manager, Dr. John Maas anticipates with pleasure the wealth of opportunities and the unique freedom that a national meeting like Western Veterinary Conference offers. He began attending WVC in 1982 and finds it to be an ideal conference in terms of the time of year during which it is held, the Mandalay Bay and Oquendo Center venues, and the caliber of attendees it attracts. In particular, he feels that WVC provides top-flight education for the exclusively food animal practitioner but is also a wonderful venue for mixed animal practitioners because they are able to get all of the information they need at one conference. He adds, “I want to emphasize that a very important aspect of the Food Animal Program at WVC is the ability to target mixed or general practice veterinarians.”
According to Dr. Maas, food animal medicine has become increasingly sophisticated over the past 15 years. In his new role with WVC he will constantly evaluate how to introduce more demonstrations and lab-based instruction into the food animal programming as well as how to include more diagnostic procedures applicable both to herds and to individual animals. “My job is to get the best people who can speak on the best topics to the best attendees anywhere, and that is fun,” says Dr. Maas. Another area he finds worthy of reexamination is the use, or underuse, of veterinary technicians in food animal medicine.
“Although WVC has been fortunate over time in maintaining excellent food animal programming, we need to talk to producers and to consumers and listen to them,” observes Dr. Maas, “It is essential for WVC’s Food Animal Program not only to stay abreast of developments in the field, but also to get ahead of the advances and consistently be at the cutting edge.” He believes firmly in the importance of asking Conference attendees what instruction they want and need, and in paying careful attention to their replies when planning future programs.
Dr. Maas joined the faculty at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1988 where he is a specialist in Population Health and Reproduction focusing on beef cattle health and food safety. He completed his undergraduate work in biology and chemistry at California State University, Chico, and received his DVM degree from the University of California, Davis, then earned a Master’s degree in veterinary microbiology from the University of Missouri, Columbia.
He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, for which he was a founding member and served as both president and board chairman. In addition, he is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (LAIM). Dr. Maas has contributed hundreds of articles to veterinary publications and is known throughout the beef community as an advocate, trainer, and program developer in the beef quality assurance arena as well as an educator of those who are outside of the specific training. He has been an integral part of California’s Beef Quality Assurance Program since it was introduced in the early 1990s, having testified frequently before legislative bodies to protect cattle producers.
Among numerous honors Dr. Maas has received is the 2011 Gordon K. Van Vleck Memorial Award, which is the highest honor given by the California Cattlemen’s Association. He has also been named 2013 National Beef Quality Assurance Educator of the Year by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.