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AAEP Honors Equitarian Initiative Co-founder and Longtime Volunteer Dr. Julie Wilson with Distinguished Service Award

Dec 2, 2023

The American Association of Equine Practitioners presented its 2023 Distinguished Service Award to Julia (Julie) Wilson, DVM, DACVIM, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine and partner in Turner Wilson Equine Consulting in Stillwater, Minn., for her substantial contributions to working equid welfare and her three-decade legacy of volunteer service to the AAEP.  

The Distinguished Service Award honors exemplary service to the AAEP or a similar organization to the benefit of the horse, horse industry or profession of equine veterinary medicine. Dr. Wilson received her award Dec. 2 during the President’s Luncheon at the AAEP’s 69th Annual Convention in San Diego, Calif. 

As co-founder (with Dr. Jay Merriam) and past president of the Equitarian Initiative, Dr. Wilson has provided leadership and structure to the program that has grown since 2012 to serve the needs of working equids and their caretakers in nine developing countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean as well as a Native American reservation in South Dakota. Many of these projects partner with host country veterinary school faculty and students to increase sustainability of program outcomes.  

A precursor to Equitarian Initiative, Drs. Wilson and Merriam established the annual Equitarian Workshop in 2010 in Mexico to instill in veterinarian and student participants the unique knowledge and skills essential to delivery of care in the developing world. Dr. Wilson obtained funding to help students and new graduates attend the workshop, participation in which has served as a catalyst for many current leaders of international working equid programs.  

Dr. Wilson has led the Equitarian project in Honduras since 2012 and participates in at least one other Equitarian Initiative project each year. Her advocacy for working animals and the families who depend on them extends to current service on the boards of directors for Brooke USA Foundation and World Equine Veterinary Association. 

“No one has worked more tirelessly and effectively for working equids,” said nominator Dr. Susan White. “Julie has done this by bringing together the widest group of organizations and individuals and fostering cooperation and inclusion. She has an exemplary global reputation as an equid welfare ambassador.” 

Dr. Wilson received her veterinary degree in 1978 from Cornell University. She served on faculty at the University of Florida from 1983–1990 and at the University of Minnesota from 1992–2011. During her 35 years of membership in the AAEP, Dr. Wilson served on the board of directors from 2007–2009; as chair of the International Committee; and as a member of the Foundation Advisory Council, Welfare and Public Policy Advisory Council as well as the Abstract Review, Membership, Nominating, Pediatrics, Scholarship, and Student Relations committees.  

About AAEP 

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.