After debuting nearly 15 years ago, the Pork Checkoff’s Operation Main Street (OMS) program has reached a major milestone: sharing facts about pigs and pork to 10,000 audiences. Wesley Lyons, a veterinarian with Pipestone Veterinary Services from Sycamore, Ill., made the historic presentation to nurses at the Northern Illinois Chapter of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses Fall Forum in Rockford, Ill.
“I was honored to present the 10,000th OMS speech, especially to a group of critical care nurses,” Lyons said. “Nurses often have more time to interact with patients than physicians, which makes them a critical group for us to share up-to-date information about how pigs are raised today.”
The OMS program was created to help pig farmers interact with and connect to their communities about animal care, food safety and public health and other facets of how today’s pigs are raised. Since then, it has transitioned into a program that also reaches key influencers, expanding to include veterinarians such as Lyons and other industry representatives to serve as speakers. To date, the nearly 1,500 trained OMS speakers have collectively volunteered 17,604 hours to share the pork industry’s story.
“OMS provides the opportunity for audience members to ask questions about pigs and pork from the farmers and veterinarians who care for pigs daily,” said Ernie Barnes, industry services director for the Pork Checkoff. “OMS speakers interact with chefs, nurses, veterinarian students, nutritionists, bloggers and other important groups who interact daily with audiences. OMS presentations help them confidently and accurately talk about the science and practice of raising pigs.”
A new program update is the ability for audience members to virtually tour a pig farm. Through a collaboration with South Dakota State University, OMS speakers can include live-streaming video tours of SDSU’s Swine Education & Research Center, in Brookings, S.D.
“The live tours show how pig farmers follow the We CareSM ethical principles every day in their barns to raise healthy pigs,” said Lyons, who included a virtual tour in the 10,000th presentation. “Many people are surprised at the high level of care pigs receive in the climate-controlled barns and at how pig farmers safeguard natural resources.”