Dr. Allan Preston (centre) receives his Lifetime Achievement Award from Manitoba Beef Producers' board member Maureen Cousins (left) and MP Larry Maguire (right). Photo: Assiniboine River Basin Initiative
Dr. Allan Preston (centre) receives his Lifetime Achievement Award from Manitoba Beef Producers' board member Maureen Cousins (left) and MP Larry Maguire (right). Photo: Assiniboine River Basin Initiative

WCVM alumnus honoured for dynamic career in beef industry

Dr. Allan Preston, a graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) during the cattle organization’s annual general meeting in February 2024.

The award recognizes Preston’s lengthy veterinary career as well as his contributions to the beef industry through his work with the provincial government and Manitoba agriculture organizations.

Preston grew up on a farm near Hamiota, Man., where his time spent working with livestock sparked his interest in veterinary medicine. After graduating from the WCVM in 1974, Preston worked at a mixed practice in Winnipeg for a year before returning to his home community of Hamiota.

He became a partner in a local veterinary clinic and practised for 20 years, but the physical toll of clinical work caused Preston to shift his career focus. He took on a new role as the manager of veterinary field services with Manitoba Agriculture, overseeing the province’s veterinary service districts, managing student programs and handling animal welfare situations. 

Preston’s passion and leadership abilities brought new opportunities in a variety of roles throughout the following years. He became the provincial veterinarian and director of Manitoba’s Veterinary Services Branch in 2000, which eventually led to his next role as assistant deputy minister in the Manitoba Ministry of Agriculture (Agri-Industry Development and Innovation Division) for seven years.

Among his many career highlights, Preston was part of a committee of Federal Provincial Territorial Assistant Deputy Ministers that helped build the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Strategy, which advocated for farm animal health and welfare. He was also involved with the recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) panel that investigated the use of rBST to increase milk production in Canadian dairy herds.

In the veterinary profession, Preston served as president of the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) and was named the MVMA Veterinarian of the Year in 1994-95. He also chaired the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s (CVMA) animal welfare committee for several years.

The MBP’s Lifetime Achievement Award adds to Preston’s many career distinctions and awards. He received the CVMA Humane Award for leadership in advocating for animal welfare in 1995 and the 2008 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Excellence in Public Administration in Manitoba.

Preston continues to enjoy learning and contributing to his profession and community in his retirement. In particular, Preston has been a driving force behind the Assiniboine River Basin Initiative (ARBI) and is a past chair of its board. Since bad weather forced Preston to miss the MBP’s annual general meeting and his lifetime achievement award presentation in February, representatives from both groups worked together to organize a surprise presentation at the ARBI’s annual general meeting on March 8.

Click here to read a story about Preston’s veterinary career.