FOND DU LAC - After more than 40 years of experience in the veterinary and embryo transfer field, Steve Malin, of Fond du Lac, was awarded the American Embryo Transfer Association’s President’s Award.
From the time he was a child, Malin has worked with animals and agriculture. Growing up on a dairy farm, he wanted to stay involved in the field “in one way or another,” and did so through veterinary medicine. As there was no veterinary school in the state at the time, Malin attended the University of Minnesota, and received his degree in 1974.
Following graduation, Malin returned to Wisconsin, where he worked as a large animal veterinarian in Loyal, near Marshfield, before moving to Fond du Lac in 1976. There, he opened his “single-man diary practice” called Country View. With a merger in 1978, his practice would become Dairyland.
“In the first several years, I did primarily just general large animal practice, mostly dairy. It involved reproductive or health work and, just general cow work, or whatever needed to be done,” he said of his day-to-day life as a vet. However, in 1979, he began expanding into embryo transfer work, a field that was just starting when he graduated school, but he knew he wanted to be involved in. In 1987, he would make this aspect of his work his focus, when he left Dairyland and established his own practice centered on it called Malin Embryo Transfer.
“Embyro transfer combined the two things I had enjoyed most in school: reproductive work and surgery,” he said.
The purpose of embryo transfer is to have a less valuable animal carry the pregnancy of a donor that is more so. This process is accomplished through multiple steps. The donor is given hormones to super-ovulate, and produce multiple egg donors. After, the animal is inseminated, and the fertilized embryos allowed to grow for seven days, before they are collected and processed. Following the collection, the embryos are either transferred that same day or frozen and used at a later date. Those who freeze may also choose to sell the embryos and export them. This aspect of the field makes up a major part of Malin’s practice, and he exports to countries all over the world, including those in Europe as well as Japan and, one of the biggest markets, China.
The variety of people and work he comes in contact with is what makes Malin enjoy his job the most.
“I enjoy working with the clients and trying to better the herds,” he said. “Most of the people I work with are primary dairy man — I do a little work for beef clients. If they’re going to be involved in my type of work, the majority of them are excellent clients, excellent dairy men, excellent beef breeders, so I enjoy working with that quality of clients. I’ve enjoyed the work.”
After 20 years on his own, Malin merged with Waupun Veterinary Services, LLP in 2007. This allowed him to be part of a group practice, and enjoy building relationships with other vets and staff, while also prepare to retire and pass the work onto someone else.
Throughout the years, as he built his practices and expanded his reach, Malin also became involved in the American Embryo Transfer Association, or AETA. Formed in 1982, the association works to unite individuals as well as organizations, to work under the same “self-imposed standards of performance and conduct,” according to its website, while also providing education to the public, protection to its members and a voice to those in the industry.
Soon after its formation, Malin joined AETA and for about 10 years has served as chairman of the Certification Committee, which acts as quality control in the industry. Through the work of this committee, organizations and individuals become voluntarily certified with the AETA. To do so, they must meet educational requirements, take an exam, pass an inspection and meet certifications standards that members are expected to live by, says Malin.
In his role, Malin would oversee the program, doing exams as well as administering exams.
Along with the work he did for it, he spoke of the opportunities it provided him:
“It gave me an opportunity to work with an awful lot of the new members and to work with them through the certification process, more of a mentor, than as an exam administer,” he said. “It also gave me an opportunity to work a lot with USDA to develop and promote embryo exports to other countries.”
This work was one of the reasons that Malin was presented with the President’s Award, an honor given to those who have provided service to the association, at the annual conference in St. Louis in 2016.
“Steve’s commitment to service to the American Embryo Transfer Association is exemplary, evidenced by his tireless efforts serving as the chair of the Certification Committee. His humble, mild-mannered demeanor and easy, friendly smile have been an incredible asset when working in such an important role,” said Bethany Funnell, president of AETA, as she presented in the award.
Sitting at the banquet, the honor was a shock to Malin. “I was really surprised. I didn’t expect it at all,” he said.
For his family, like his son, Joel, who was present at the banquet, they see Malin as deserving of the award.
“We are all very proud of my dad as he received this honor from his peers. He has devoted himself to the profession and to this organization for many years, and it has become a huge part of who he is,” he said.
On the cusp of retirement, Malin felt honored to be receiving it.
“It was an honor I really appreciated getting towards the end of my career. It showed that the organization appreciated the hard work I did for that committee and I was glad to see that,” he said.