AVMA's grass roots answering call to become advocates

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The American Veterinary Medical Association Congressional Advocacy Network, AVMA-CAN—the Association's grassroots advocacy program—is in the midst of an unprecedented growth surge. Since 2008, the number of AVMA-CAN members has more than tripled and now exceeds 7,000, and members have become more actively involved as advocates for federal legislation that supports veterinary medicine. More than 1,500 new members have joined the network in the past two months alone.

The growth of the grassroots network is the result of new efforts by AVMA staff in support of the Association's strategic goal of advocacy. E-mail outreach, awareness advertisements, and an increased online presence have all contributed to the expanded membership. Additionally, AVMA-CAN has recruited heavily at veterinary events, signing up hundreds of new members at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Fla., and the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas earlier this year.

With the growth of AVMA-CAN, the Association has increased its use of social media tools to strengthen engagement and enhance communication with grassroots members. More than 2,000 Facebook users have become fans of the AVMA-CAN Facebook page at www.facebook.com/avmacan, which provides the latest advocacy news and legislative alerts.

Earlier this year, AVMA-CAN launched a Twitter feed that features brief legislative updates and congressional news, at www.twitter.com/avmacan. The feed has also been used to provide real-time updates from conferences and advocacy events, including this year's NAVC and the recent AVMA Student Legislative Fly-in in Washington, D.C. The tweets offered an interactive experience that helped attendees share the AVMA-CAN message.

"These social networking tools have brought new members into the conversation and have increased the voice of veterinary medicine on Capitol Hill, including those of nonveterinarians who support the AVMA's legislative agenda," said Stephanie Fisher, AVMA grassroots coordinator in the Governmental Relations Division in Washington.

AVMA-CAN also continues to send its members The AVMA Advocate, a monthly electronic newsletter available here. The Advocate is a monthly digest of what's happening in Washington, D.C., with articles written by the Association's federal lobbyists and regulatory experts.

In the months ahead, AVMA-CAN will continue its outreach online, and staff will attend various regional veterinary meetings to recruit for the grassroots network. With continued growth and passionate engagement, the Association's advocacy network will continue having an impact on federal legislation.

To join the network or conversation, visit AVMA-CAN at the social networks previously mentioned, visit the AVMA Government Action Center at http://avmacan.avma.org, or e-mail AVMA-CAN.