Hill's provides impressive funding for future conventions

Pledge of $1 million to future AVMA Annual Conventions will allow for growth and enhancement
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Once again, Hill's Pet Nutrition has stepped up to the plate and pledged major funding for future AVMA Annual Conventions. Over the next five years, Hill's will provide convention sponsorship totaling $1 million, $200,000 per year.

"This generous support will allow continued growth and expansion of the annual convention, as we continue to set new standards in extraordinary veterinary continuing education and provide an exciting and fun-filled convention experience for all attendees," says David Little, director of the AVMA Convention and Meeting Planning Division.

In return for its financial support, Hill's will be designated as a Platinum Level Sponsor, the highest level of sponsorship attainable for the convention, and title sponsor of the Opening General Session. In addition, Hill's will continue their sponsorship of the Dr. Jack L. Mara Seminars in Veterinary Technology, a program named after the late Dr. Mara, former director of veterinary affairs at Hill's, as well as sponsorship of various other educational program offerings and social events. The company will also sponsor and assist in designing the convention program's Grid-At-A-Glance, a quick reference grid for the complete educational program.

"Hill's is extremely proud that our relationship with the AVMA allows us to provide financial resources that will help build the profession, enhance the convention, and in the end, help our practitioner colleagues provide the best possible care to their patients and the families that love them," says Steve Marton, Hill's president and chief operating officer.

Hill's commitment to the veterinary profession began when the company was founded in 1948. The relationship between the veterinary community and company is a special one—many of the company's employees are veterinarians, providing more than 25,000 consultations each year to veterinarians.

Over the years, the company has supported many of the AVMA Annual Conventions as well as AVMA-sponsored programs and projects, including meetings on disaster relief, animal welfare, and veterinary practice management. They have supported National Pet Dental Health Month, since 1995, and the Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award, since 1986. "Hill's has been an integral supporter of the annual convention over the years and has been a Platinum Level sponsor since the inception of the multitiered sponsor recognition began in 2001," Little says.

The company's first $1 million donation to the AVMA was in 1997. Hill's support was a major factor in improving the continuing education opportunities available for veterinary practitioners at a time when the AVMA's CE program was in the midst of growth.

"In the mid '90s, the convention was very good, and it continues to be very good at providing CE to academics and folks in public practice careers, such as military, government, industry, and public health," says Dr. Mary Beth Leininger, who served on the AVMA Executive Board in the late 1990s as an AVMA delegate and immediate past president. The Executive Board, Convention Management and Program Committee, and Convention and Meeting Planning Division, however, wanted to pay special attention to improving CE for veterinary practitioners. "We had the responsibility to really try and beef up the CE that was being offered to private practitioners," Dr. Leininger says.

With the support of companies such as Hill's, the CE for practitioners and the overall CE program have been greatly improved. The new infusion of support will bolster the success of future conventions and further enhance the quality of continuing education offerings and other convention programs. Dr. Leininger, who has been director of professional affairs at Hill's since 1999, is in a unique position to raise the company's awareness to the needs of the AVMA because of her past roles in the Association's leadership.

As mergers and consolidations continue in the veterinary industry, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain funding for conference programs, so Hill's unwavering support is even more important. "We continue to be committed to providing a solid, dependable financial base so that the convention planners can enhance quality CE programs for the entire veterinary health care team," Marton says. "We are excited about the benefits that will accrue from that for the profession."