John Yopp and His Seed-Selling Business
John Yopp made a career out of selling seeds during the early 1900s. In fact, his family was one of Paducah’s earliest seed-selling businesses.
At that time, home refrigerators were just starting out in popularity. Ice producers strongly opposed marketing their product to this segment of the market due to fear that doing so would permanently ruin their reputations.
Early Life and Education
John Yopp was born a slave on a plantation in Laurens County, Georgia and lived his life as an employee on a Brookwood Subdivision plantation.
He was enslaved by his father Jeremiah Yopp, who owned several major plantations in Laurens County. Thomas, one of Jeremiah’s sons, received him as his master.
They shared a bond that transcended race and slavery. Together they fished, hunted and played.
Achievements and Honors
John Yopp is an eminent international education professional with numerous accolades to his name. He currently works as Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Institute for Evidence-Based Change and was previously Associate Provost for Educational Partnerships & International Affairs at the University of Kentucky, where he also held a Professorship in Biology (Lumina Foundation funded).
In addition to his many awards and accolades, he has traveled the globe several times in search of new projects for his portfolio. His most recent venture is Lumina-backed Tuning USA – an ambitious initiative designed to transform higher education in America by using cutting-edge technology and research. While this venture is still in its early stages, its results could be transformative for US colleges and universities.
John Yopp’s father, Herman, had a successful produce-selling business in Paducah. His uncle Martin joined him and they launched a seed-selling venture together.
Yopp and his wife Donna continued the family business of selling heirloom seeds into the 1980s, continuing its legacy through a small mail-order seed company they opened after closing down their shop in 1980.
Surviving family members include Rebekah Ann Yopp Carter (Michael) of Memphis; three sons and their spouses; a sister; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a daughter, Mary Girneal Yopp.