NASC Conference Attendee Tells It Like It Was

By Karin Krisher

On Tuesday, I dragged myself to the airport at 4:30 a.m., when even the sun hadn’t NASCopened his eyes. Just because I used the word dragged doesn’t qualify this as a complaint—anytime you’re traveling to California, you feel pretty happy. I strapped my bright turquoise and pink duffel across my chest and slept my way through security. The plane taxied for too long, it seemed, and finally, at 5:30, juiced it down the runway.

I, as the copywriter for Vetri-Science, was off to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the National Animal Supplement Council by attending the NASC annual conference in San Diego. Vetri-Science Brand Manager Sara Phillips and Animal Division New Product Development Manager Chelsea Tomat were by my side, ready for a sunny (and educational) experience.

Let me be clear: celebrate is the right word, but that celebration included training and a whole lot of learning—in just two days. While other attendees are still reveling in the glow of receiving FoodScience Corporation’s second NASC visibility award, I’m back at my desk, plugging away. But the 48 hours I spent in San Diego were packed with information, and that’s a great thing for our customers and yours.

We hopped off our second, five-hour flight at 10:30 Pacific Time Tuesday, ready to make moves. After exploring the city and getting situated, we attended trainings all day Wednesday, which were heavily focused on labeling, adverse event reporting and social media guidelines. The main goal was to share the value of the many tools created to uphold NASC ideals, and to learn how to use them.

Given that we do our best to always stay in compliance, and we guarantee truth in labeling, this information may seem old hat to a lot of Vetri-Science employees. But for me, hearing it from the mouth of NASC President Bill Bookout solidified any knowledge I already had.

The Industry Need for NASC

The supplement industry (and animal health industry in general) truly is fueled by the motivation of its leaders to constantly cooperate while simultaneously competing. What is good for one company is good for all of us (in a business sense), and what is good for animals is also good for all of us (in a personal sense).

I was often struck by the powerful words of the featured speakers, who discussed their commitment to animal health and cited that as the reason for the development of the National Animal Supplement Council in 2002.

What more can anyone ask for in an industry than a true personal commitment that reverberates amongst all industry members, trickles down to even their entry-level employees, and permeates the hearts of their customers, resulting in, well, results? The trainings and speakers confirmed what I have known for a long time—this industry matters because this industry actually cares. And when your motivation is in the right place, so are your products.

Capping off my Wednesday evening with a lighthearted presentation from keynote speaker Bill Lawrence was both relaxing and surprisingly educational. Bill trained the horse performers in War Horse, as well as Racing Stripes and the Denzel Washington film Unstoppable. For 19 months, he worked 90 hours a week on War Horse. The behind the scenes information was astonishing—watching the final product and understanding all of the effort behind it was a beautiful experience.

We often get emotionally involved with animals’ stories without truly understanding the effort the humans and animals involved have actually put forth to share them—all in the name of art. Hearing Bill discuss how stunts are regulated by humane treatment officials, and just how committed the directors are to the animals’ health, was both revealing and reassuring.

Where older films used trip wires, we now train horses that enjoy kneeling to fall and stand. Where older films would catch a horse in a tangled mess, we now train several horses to be wrapped lightly in paper that resembles wire for just moments—and then edit the film to appear fluid. These concepts were new to me, and, in keeping with the theme of NASC, proved the animal industry’s actual commitment to animal health and wellbeing.

My flight back on Thursday afternoon found me surrounded by five screaming babies, but I was unfazed. After a two-day reminder of what humane treatment really means, and how to bring it to the rest of the world, I was feeling calm, cool and collected. But mostly, I was feeling empathetic—and above all, proud.