In recognition of his innovative contributions to the education and advancement of bovine veterinary students and the dairy industry, Merck Animal Health and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) presented John Fetrow, D.V.M., with the Mentor of the Year Award at this year's AABP Annual Conference.

The annual award honors an individual who has dedicated his or her career to educating, mentoring and advancing the careers of bovine veterinary medical students. Dr. Fetrow was honored with a commemorative plaque and will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to next year's AABP conference.

"Dr. Fetrow's scientific contributions to veterinary medicine and his ongoing work as a student mentor are remarkable and deserving of recognition," said Norman Stewart, D.V.M., livestock technical services manager for Merck Animal Health. "We commend his dedication and ability to inspire students across the globe, as well as the honor and integrity he demonstrates to his students every day."

Dr. Fetrow has been a mentor to innumerable veterinary students, colleagues and food animal producers. "Being a mentor is similar to investing in that the return or recognition often comes years or even decades after the fact," said M. Gatz Riddell Jr., D.V.M., executive vice president of the AABP. "Many mentees are not even aware of the process at the time and only years later realize the impact a mentor had on their life and career. This is why John and other lifetime mentors like him are so worthy of this level of recognition."           

Most notable among Dr. Fetrow's long list of contributions in his 36-year career is the creation and implementation of the Transition Management Facility associated with the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (UMCVM). Initiated in the late 1990s, the project was the nation's first private-public partnership to provide veterinary students with a two-week clinical training rotation on a commercial dairy operation.

"It was an excellent, low-cost, innovative model to provide hands-on training to our professional veterinary students, but also for continuing education programs for veterinarians and producers," said Sandra Godden, D.V.M., dairy veterinary science professor, University of Minnesota, who nominated Dr. Fetrow for the award.

In 2007, Dr. Fetrow secured funding for and designed new facilities to expand and move the program to a 7,000-cow dairy in South Central Minnesota that included a large cheese processing plant. Today, the UMCVM Dairy Education Center includes classrooms, a research laboratory and a dormitory. In 2011, a federal grant allowed Dr. Fetrow to expand yet again and develop the Center of Excellence in Dairy Production Medicine Education, which added the University of Illinois, Kansas State University and the University of Georgia to the roster. This effort allowed for the creation of an eight-week advanced program for senior veterinary graduates entering careers in dairy production medicine.         

Driven by his exceptional vision for teaching what is important and by employing novel approaches that have changed the way things are done in the classroom and on the farm, Dr. Fetrow has had an unparalleled impact on the teaching, learning and practice of dairy production medicine in North America and around the world," said Ken Leslie, D.V.M., Professor Emeritus, Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, who wrote a letter of support for the nomination of Dr. Fetrow. 

 Joining the University of Minnesota in 1991, Dr. Fetrow is today a Professor of Dairy Production Medicine in the university's Department of Veterinary Population Medicine. He also is a special graduate faculty member in the Department of Population Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business.

Dr. Fetrow has received numerous honors throughout his career, including the inaugural AABP Distinguished Service Award. He is the eighth recipient of the Mentor of the Year Award, which was instituted in 2007.