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APHIS Administrator Dr. Gregory Parham, a Second Generation Veterinarian, Reflects on World Veterinary Year 2011

I’m Dr. Gregory Parham and I’m the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  As a proud member of the veterinary profession, I’m happy to share with you that 2011 has been declared World Veterinary Year in honor of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first official school of veterinary medicine.

The veterinary profession is one I have been close to for decades.  In fact, my father served as a veterinarian for APHIS.  During his career, he worked in the field, assisted in disease eradication efforts, and even worked internationally.  Seeing what he did every day was a strong influence on me.  I learned early in life that becoming a veterinarian could be an interesting career.  I followed through with my goal of studying veterinary medicine and have determined that I was right.  Being a veterinarian is most certainly an interesting and fulfilling career, one that has exposed me to all sorts of experiences and opportunities.

As a vet trainee, I was in central Florida testing cattle for brucellosis.  That wasn’t the hard part.  To this day, the scariest moment of my veterinary career had to be learning to watch for alligators while I was out doing tests.  Later in my career, I was working in the field as an epidemiologist on a disease outbreak investigation.  The blood samples I took from horses led to the isolation of a new virus.

Work such as this is challenging and rewarding for me and for the APHIS veterinarians that help protect animal and human health every day.  I would like you to know more about the work they perform in every state across America and internationally.

To that end, we’ll be celebrating World Veterinary Year throughout 2011 by shining the spotlight on all that our veterinarians do.  Over the next several months, other members of the APHIS veterinary community will be sharing their own stories in this blog space.

We have quite a diverse group – both in their backgrounds and in the work they do on a daily basis.  I’m honored to have such a talented, dedicated staff of veterinarians working at APHIS.  I am excited about sharing them with you.

APHIS and USDA are joining with organizations around the world to celebrate World Veterinary Year by highlighting the work of veterinarians on the USDA blog.  This post is part of a series underscoring the important and diverse work of APHIS veterinarians.  Check back each Thursday as we showcase the work of a different veterinarian.

Dr. Gregory Parham, APHIS Administrator

Dr. Gregory Parham, APHIS Administrator

3 Responses to “APHIS Administrator Dr. Gregory Parham, a Second Generation Veterinarian, Reflects on World Veterinary Year 2011”

  1. Jennifer Walker says:

    In honor of World Veterinary Year, I’d like to share this info about my father, a veterinarian, who retired from APHIS.

    My father, John E. Johnson, DVM, of Nashville, TN turned 90 on May 22 of this year. Originally from Covington, TN, he entered Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1943. Like many men of his generation, his education was interrupted when he volunteered for and served in World War II. After completing military service, he returned to Texas A&M and graduated in 1947.

    In the early 1950s, he was called back to the Army Reserves for stateside service during the Korean War. He was stationed in Chicago, IL where he inspected meat that was being shipped to troops in Korea. He operated a rural veterinary practice in Dresden, TN from 1952-1960. He often traded his services for whatever goods a farmer could offer in return. One memorable “payment” included two Civil War-era muskets.

    In the late 1950s, Dr. Johnson accepted a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he worked as a meat inspector for USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS). He transferred to Nashville, TN in January 1960 and as a federal employee on loan to the State of Tennessee, became director of the state’s meat & poultry inspection program. He traveled to Washington, D.C. for the signing of the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The bill regulated the federal meat inspection program and required that states have inspection programs on par with the federal government. He was fortunate to have a photo opportunity with President Johnson during the occasion. He was honored by the Livestock Sanitary Commission for identifying a cow with TB in a stockyard that could have had dire health consequences for the entire herd as well as humans consuming the meat. He retired from USDA after 30 years of service.

  2. Rebecca [USDA Moderator] says:

    What a wonderful story, Jennifer. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. jean says:

    how about telling us if he let any bad meat go by because that was the only way he could keep his job. we all would like to know more about that. the way the meat packers are called and told when the meat inspectors would be there, etc. so that they can then clean up. meat packing/animal slaughter is a terrible disgusting dirty polluting abusive business for the animals. the guys who let the crap continue usually go on very successfully. the animals suffer.

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