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March 5, 2014

Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, VDACS, 804.786.7686

Dr. Richard Wilkes, D.V.M.At their 2014 Virginia Veterinary Conference, the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) announced the selection of Richard Wilkes, D.V.M., as the 2014 Distinguished Virginia Veterinarian of the Year. Dr. Wilkes is the State Veterinarian and Director of the Division of Animal and Food Industry Services at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). The award was presented by Terry Taylor, D.V.M., former USDA Veterinarian in Charge for Virginia.

In his presentation, Dr. Taylor said, “To be named Distinguished Virginia Veterinarian is an honor reserved for those individuals who have, by their actions, brought recognition to veterinary medicine in Virginia and who are also community leaders.” He added that Dr. Wilkes “has worked diligently to represent and promote the best interests of animal health, the livestock and poultry industries, animal welfare and veterinary practitioners. His single, most noteworthy service is his steady, thoughtful, and deliberate consideration and planning to ensure that the implementation of state laws, regulations and policies that govern animal health represent the best possible outcomes for animals and animal agriculture producers in Virginia.”

Taylor also noted that Wilkes has worked vigorously to improve and advance animal disease traceability and that he brought together a coalition of State Veterinarians and obtained federal funding to develop a Secure Milk Supply plan for a multi-state region. Taylor added that Dr. Wilkes puts significant time and effort into supporting the future generations of veterinarians as evidenced by his recent personal meeting with five veterinary students. Dr. Wilkes bought pizza while he and the students discussed ways to encourage public/corporate veterinary practice.

Wilkes is a member of the United States Animal Health Association, the National Association of State Animal Health Directors, the Southern Animal Health Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, and the Virginia Food Animal Practice Academy.  Dr. Wilkes was the President of the Southern Animal Health Association from 2010-2011.  He was the District 2 (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) Director on the American Association of Bovine Practitioners Board of Directors from 1994 through 2000 and served as a member and chairman of the association’s Graduate Assistantship Committee.

Dr. Wilkes came to VDACS in August 2004 as Program Manager of the Office of Veterinary Services and was selected as State Veterinarian in February 2005. Prior to joining the Agency, he had a distinguished 26-year career as a private veterinary practitioner, co-owning and operating a mixed animal veterinary medical practice and focusing on serving agricultural clients. He holds a B.S. degree in Dairy Science from Virginia Tech and a D.V.M. degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia.

VDACS’ Division of Animal and Food Industry Services is comprised of the State Veterinarian’s Office and specialized programs in Laboratory Services, Veterinary Services, Meat and Poultry Services, and Dairy and Foods.  The Division oversees such diverse functions as meat inspection, animal health and welfare, food inspection, livestock disease prevention and eradication, emergency planning and food security.

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