Tom Burke joins the Saddle and Sirloin Portrait Gallery
Endowment fund creates Junior award through Angus Foundation
Lifelong Angus sale manager, author, speaker, Angus enthusiast, youth supporter and former American Angus Association board member Tom Burke of Platte City, Missouri, has been selected as the 2017 inductee into the Saddle & Sirloin Portrait Gallery, largely considered the highest honor in the livestock industry. It is the highest honor that can come to anyone in American Agriculture.
The Saddle & Sirloin Portrait Gallery was established in 1903 and recognizes one individual annually for their lifetime of exceptional service to the livestock business, both nationally and internationally. Theo portrait gallery includes 354 portraits of distinguished leaders of the livestock industry and is on permanent display at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Being inducted into the Saddle & Sirloin Portrait Gallery is the highest honor anyone in the livestock industry can achieve,” Burke says. “I couldn’t be more excited. I never dreamed I would be included in this elite group.”
A customary practice for Saddle & Sirloin Portrait Gallery inductees is to designate a 501(c)(3) organization to receive charitable contributions raised in honor of the distinguished honoree. Funds are used to offset project expenses and Burke’s fundraising effort included establishing the Tom Burke Angus Youth Endowment Fund through the Angus Foundation.
The endowment will create the Shining Star of the Future Award, a cash award that will be given to one National Junior Angus Association member age 12 or under. The winner will be selected through an application and interview process, announced at the National Junior Angus Show (NJAS).
“The cash prize can go toward the junior’s Angus cattle endeavors or their future education,” Burke says. “I think every Angus junior needs a little extra encouragement and something to work toward, as a warm up for bigger and better things as they get older. I wanted to create something to stir youths’ imagination and excitement.”
Supporting youth is not only a tenet of the Angus Foundation; it’s a mission Burke wholeheartedly supports. He’s attended every NJAS for the last 49 years and the last 50 National Junior Angus Showmanship contests, serving as emcee for the very first contest in 1967.
“The future of rural America and agriculture is bright, but it’s our responsibility to feed a hungry world,” Burke says. “We have a lot resting on our shoulders to be efficient enough to feed the world. In 2016, the Angus breed registered 334,000 head of cattle–more than all other beef breeds combined, so we have a lot going for us.”
Contributions can be made to the Tom Burke Angus youth Endowment Fund through the Angus Foundation by October 1st. Contributors will receive complimentary Saddle & Sirloin Portrait Banquet tickets.
Burke grew up on an Angus farm in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, where he showed Angus cattle as a junior, participating in both 4-H and FFA. As a teen, Burke served as both Minnesota State 4-H Club president and as a Minnesota State FFA officer, also serving as a delegate to the 1962 National FFA Convention. He was also named Minnesota Star Farmer in 1960. Burke was a charter member and first president of the Minnesota Junior Angus Association.
“I was an Angus enthusiast from day one,” Burke says. “I liked the breed and the cattle. In that era, you showed cattle more than you do today. There wasn’t much of a performance program—it was all built around what happened in the showring.”
Burke served in the U.S. Army from 1965-1967, and then took a position as a field man for Drover’s Journal, the predecessor to today’s Drover’s beef industry magazine. After two years in that role, he joined the American Angus Hall of Fame in Smithville, Missouri, in 1967. He has served as sale manager for the Hall of Fame ever since, taking over the business in 1972 after the passing of Hall of Fame founder J.B. McCorkle.
Through the years, Burke has remained a staunch Angus breeder and supporter. Today, he owns a herd of 200 registered Angus cows and 40 registered Suffolk ewes.
Burke’s passion for Angus cattle has been a driving force throughout his life.
“My purpose and pleasure has been to see Angus cattle raised on every continent,” Burke says. “One thing I know for sure is that the best Angus cattle and breeders are in North America.”
Burke has been relentless in his service to the Angus breed. At age 16, he served as a delegate to the Association’s annual meeting. In 1972, he was named Missouri Angus Association Man of the Year, and has served as the All-American Angus Breeders Futurity Chairman since that year.
In 2004, Burke received the American Angus Association’s Angus Heritage Award, and his herd was named by the organization as a Historic Herd in 2006. Both the Kansas and Georgia Angus Associations have made him an honorary member. From 2013 to 2016, Burke served on the Association’s Board of Directors, along with the Angus Foundation Board of Directors. In 2017, he served as a U.S. delegate to the World Angus Forum.
In addition to his service to the Angus breed, Burke has an impressive record leading to his induction into the Saddle & Sirloin Portrait Gallery, including:
- Conducting more than 10,000Angus sales in 47 states, six Canadian provinces, the Caribbean and Scotland;
- Speaking to students at 20 U.S. Universities and Colleges;
- Co-authoring nine best-selling Angus books that have been distributed in 20 countries;
- International Livestock Show Board of Directors, 1974-1975;
- One of five original lifetime members, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, 1984;
- National Suffolk Association Board of Directors, 1988-1996, 2005-2008;
- Named “America’s Most Traveled Person” by USA Today, 1993-1004;
- Nation Western Stock Show Marketeer of the Year, 1994; and
- Inducted into United Suffolk Breeders Association Hall of Fame, 2014.
World-renowned artist Richard Halstead with Halstead Studios, Evanston, Illinois, will paint Burke’s portrait. The portrait will be unveiled November 12th at the North American Livestock Show in Louisville, Kentucky.
Tom Burke joins the Saddle and Sirloin Portrait Gallery