Friend of Agriculture Jimmy Waldrop – “Your dad would’ve been proud” is the recurring message Jimmy Waldrop has received since being named the 2015 Friend of Agriculture. Waldrop, better known as “Slim,” said that’s been the best part of winning the award.
Growing up, he worked on the farm with his dad, Bill, who was a sharecropper. Slim looked up to his father and shared his passion for agriculture.
Once the family moved to Hopkinsville, Bill took a job with a chemical and fertilizer company. Slim was right there with him learning the ropes.
“He bought his own fertilizer truck, and I used to go with him on weekends, and I’d find time to go after school,” Slim said. “I kind of just liked what he done.”
The seventh of nine children, Slim said many of his siblings took factory jobs, but he wanted to work on the farm, just like his dad.
For 10 years, Slim worked as a farmhand. Then, he spent the next 10 years working at Agri-Chem. Moving on to Security Seed and Chemical, he worked as a spray operator for another 10 years until he had back surgery and needed to get out of the “machine.” Security Seed Owner Barry Mayo didn’t want to let him go so Mayo moved Slim over to sales.
“(Barry) is probably one of the nicest guys that ever, to me, walked the earth besides Jesus Christ and my dad,” Slim said.
Working in sales was a challenge because “I didn’t have a big education,” Slim said.
But, Mayo thought his rapport with the people and knowledge of agriculture trumped any degree he could’ve earned.
Sitting in his corner office at the company’s Hopkinsville hub, Slim said he’s thankful Mayo gave him a chance to keep doing what he loves and to keep making his dad proud.
“I told my mom, ‘I can’t follow my dad’s footsteps — I just want to stay one foot behind him.’”
Distinguished Service Awards
Dr. Wade Northington – The saying “like father, like son” rings true for Dr. Wade Northington, who followed his father’s path to become a veterinarian.
Wade was honored recently at the Salute to Agriculture breakfast, receiving one of two distinguished service awards.
He grew up around livestock on his family’s small farm outside Mayfield. He learned a lot about animals by watching his dad, Dr. Louis G. Northington.
Wade went to college at Auburn University, where he graduated in 1972 and began working in food, animal and equine medicine. His 28-year stint in Hopkinsville began in 1986, when he took a job at Skyline Animal Clinic.
In 1999, he moved into the academic sector of veterinary medicine and became the case coordinator/professor at the Murray State University Breathitt Veterinary Center, a livestock diagnostic laboratory based in Hopkinsville. He was named director in 2004.
For years, Wade was the sounding board for the importance of agriculture, specifically livestock, to the local economy, and secured over $6 million for the new facility.
“Agriculture is the economic engine of Kentucky and will continue to be so for many decades to come,” he said at the September groundbreaking for the new, state-of-the-art Breathitt Center, which should be up and running by late 2016.
Wade also announced his retirement at the event. He and his wife of 45 years will be moving to Birmingham to be closer to their three children and nine grandchildren.
Before leaving for Alabama, Wade said, “The university encouraged us to be actively involved in our community.” So, he was.
In 2005, he served as president of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association. He served on the Christian County Chamber of Commerce agriculture committee and was a member of the local agri-business association. In 2010, Gov. Steve Beshear appointed Wade to the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory Advisory Committee, and most recently, he served as chairman for the Christian County Health Board.
John Burman – John Burman has been faithful to his old Kentucky home throughout his career by working with agriculture and serving in the U.S. Army.
Born in Coxs Creek, a small town in Nelson County, Burman graduated from Old Kentucky Home High School.
He went on to attend Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the Army. He ended his stint in the military in Chicago but made his way back to his self-proclaimed “country boy” roots in Kentucky.
In Louisville, he crossed paths with a former ag teacher who encouraged him to seek employment with Kentucky Farm Bureau. He had found his niche.
Burman was immediately recognized for his innate sales ability and was given the opportunity to become agency manager in either Warren, Fleming or Christian counties. Needless to say, he chose the latter because of the“agriculture presence and impact” in Christian County.
For five decades, Burman became a well-known agriculture insurance agent and was named Agency Manager of the Year in 2006.
Burman retired Jan. 20 after working at Kentucky Farm Bureau for 55 years, but that doesn’t mean he’s giving up his agriculture roots just yet. He and his wife, Ellen, live on a grain farm, where they raised three children. They also have seven grandchildren.