Peggy Nolin Laborde was the first woman to graduate with a degree in agronomy from the LSU College of Agriculture.
In the 1940s, Laborde made the unlikely choice of entering into the LSU agronomy program. As an only child she assumed that one day it would be up to her take over her family’s farm in the central Louisiana town of Hamburg.
“I grew up on a farm, so it was a natural for me. Two or three other girls came while I was there, but I was the first to graduate,” said Laborde, who turned 90 years old on August 10.
Laborde is giving back to the college where she was a pioneer. She has established a scholarship in plant and soil systems. The Lucien P. and Peggy N. Laborde Plant and Soil Systems Scholarship will help students interested in pursuing a degree in the program.
Laborde graduated in 1947 paving the way for female ag school grads. This year, 75% of the students enrolled in the LSU College of Agriculture are female.
Laborde returned home after graduating from LSU and helped teach returning veterans the business of farming. She married Lucien Laborde, a 1937 LSU agronomy graduate and WW II vet, who entered into the farming business with her father.
The Labordes established Hamburg Mills Farm, where they grew white clover and raised cattle.
Armed with her agronomy knowledge, Laborde said she was active in running the farm, but one thing she never learned to do was drive a tractor. “I knew if I did, I would be on the tractor all the time,” said Laborde.
Laborde said she and her husband instilled a love of agriculture in their children. All 4 children graduated from the LSU College of Agriculture.
“Agriculture gave us a wonderful life. We thoroughly enjoyed our country living,” Laborde said. “It was long days, from sunup until past sundown, but we loved it.”
The couple supported LSU throughout their lives. Both were named outstanding alumni in the LSU College of Agriculture.
Lucien Laborde served as president of the LSU College of Agriculture Alumni Association, president of the LSU International Alumni Association and director of the LSU Foundation.
They sponsored scholarships at LSU and established a professorship, the Walker T. Nolin Professorship in Agronomy, named for Peggy’s father.
Their children established the Lucien and Peggy Laborde Endowed Professorship in their parents’ honor and named an oak tree on the LSU campus for her. The tree stands on the side of Woodin Hall, which houses the College of Agriculture administrative offices.
Lucien Laborde passed away in August 2015, and memorial gifts helped build the foundation for this scholarship.
“I want to encourage more young people to get in agriculture. Farming can be expensive for young people, but there are so many other fields related to agriculture they can get into,” Peggy Laborde said.