The Modern Equine Vet
June 2024
Vol 14 Issue 6 2024
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Technician Update

Community, Empowerment and Tenacity—Executive Board Involvement Can Grow it All!

By Eli Olind, LVT

As I was graduating high school, I had no idea where I wanted to go with my future. I loved rodeo, but I knew I wasn’t talented enough to make a living at it.

After touring Eastern Wyoming College (EWC), reviewing the different degree programs and speaking with teachers, the only program that sparked my interest was the Veterinary Technology Program. Patti Sue Peterson and Dr. Susan Walker, who were teachers in the program at the time, were very straight to the point and told it like it was, which made me feel like that was a program I would like. A few weeks before graduating high school I decided to attend EWC, get an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Veterinary Technology and compete on EWC’s rodeo team.

Graduating from EWC in December 2010, I was set to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam and join the workforce as a credentialed veterinary technician. In 2011 I joined the Big Sky Veterinary Technician Association (BSVTA) and became a certified veterinary technician in Montana. When I joined the BSVTA, I knew I would attend continuing education (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 a part of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants (AAEVT). I had zero aspirations about being in a leadership position of an association, but all of that changed in 2013 while attending a CE event hosted by the BSVTA.

The BSVTA was on the verge of fully dissolving, which would mean there would be no credentialing of veterinary technicians in Montana. Some of us 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 with the association, my career in veterinary technology has taken many pathways and opened networking opportunities I had never dreamed would be available to me. Saying yes to these challenges has helped build my resume in additional ways as well as my technician skill sets, 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 for 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 an additional seat to Montana’s veterinary board to be held by an LVT.

In January 2020, the BSVTA invited Deb Reeder, RVT, VTS-EVN, the executive director for the AAEVT from 2002-2022, to speak at 1 of our CE events about building your career as a veterinary technician. Deb also 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 people who have become great friends. That is one of my most favorite things about the AAEVT. I became instant friends with just about every person I met in this oganization because we share the same passion for doing the best for our equine patients.

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 reaching 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 Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois. This was fantastic networking and brought some firsts to my career, like 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, the 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 assisting the AAEVT’s 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, Fla., in December, and assist wherever the executive board needs me.

Saying yes to becoming an executive board member of the AAEVT has introduced me to a larger community within the veterinary world, allowed me to grow my network, and feel more empowered in my leadership abilities to help improve an industry that is so close to our hearts. Joining your local and national technician organizations has many advantages personally and professionally, and I urge everyone to get involved in the betterment of their profession. MeV


Eli Olind, LVT, who was born and raised in Montana, is the President-Elect of the AAEVT. He grew up in the ranching and mining community of Whitehall, and attended Eastern Wyoming College, where he received an AAS in Veterinary Technology and competed on the rodeo team. He has competed in rodeo since the age of 5, and has a background in showing horses and pigs, livestock judging, and has worked for professional rodeo stock contractors. He has 3 horses, 2 dogs and 3 cats, and still competes in rodeo as a tie-down roper.