Colden Bradshaw is the first recipient of a full NC State Agronomy Scholarship

North Carolina State University is pleased to announce the first full-tuition Connie and Durwood Laughinghouse Scholarship in Agronomy in Duplin County, North Carolina, hometown of Colden Bradshaw. (photo by Colden Bradshaw, via NC State University)

RALEIGH, NC — NC State University is pleased to announce the first full-tuition Connie and Durwood Laughinghouse Scholarship in Agriculture to Duplin County, NC native Colden Bradshaw.

Laughinghouse Scholarship was created for North Carolina students who have experience in agriculture and are interested in precision agriculture, spatial agronomy, and/or crop improvement.

David Crouse, director of undergraduate programs in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, was delighted that Bradshaw was the first recipient. “Colden has impeccable character, an incredible work ethic, a kind and generous heart, and is completely focused on his education.”

Accumulating experience

Bradshaw begins his fourth year this fall developing academic path in North Carolina State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, from a two-year agricultural graduate to a bachelor’s degree in agronomy.

This year, he’s also adding “weed research intern” to his growing resume. He is working in the greenhouse and in the field on a project to identify chemical resistance in different weed species, a topic that hits close to home.

“Weed science is one of the most difficult aspects of agriculture,” Bradshaw said. “Palmer amaranth is the most resistant on our farm, but there are many herbicide-resistant weeds throughout the state. I can see first-hand why all farmers need to spread the use of chemicals and clean equipment between fields.”

Bringing science home

Back home, the third-generation Bradshaw family farm grows the usual rotations of corn, wheat and soybeans, but has recently been experimenting with a few specialty crops. He watches his father struggle with the relentless pressures of the farm.

“I hear a lot about the cost of production going up,” says Bradshaw. “Unfortunately, most people today are detached from agriculture. They’re seeing commodity prices going up, which should be good, but with high production costs, there’s really no benefit to farmers.”

Bradshaw sees an opportunity to help farming communities like his through a potential career with Cooperative Extension.

“Extension does a great job of supporting farmers with the information they need, especially when they’re just starting out,” Bradshaw said. “I know not everyone from a rural area can attend NC State. Bringing agricultural science back to the community is one way I can help.”

Exchange of agricultural heritage

In 2020, Connie Loughinghouse established the Loughinghouse Scholarship in her honor it’s late husband Durwood and as a tribute to the agriculture they lived and loved. Both Laughinghouses grew up on multigenerational family farms: Coney in Graham, North Carolina, and Durwood in the agriculturally important Blacklands area around Pantego, North Carolina. They met at NC State.

“We came from farms of different sizes and scales, but agriculture taught us the same values. We’ve developed a character that is grow, nurture and get dirty,” said Connie Loughinghouse. “Agriculture and loving the land is something Durwood strongly believed in. So this scholarship was a seed that just took root.”

Durwood Laughinghouse grew up as an attentive student in his grandfather AD Swindell’s class. For Swindell’s innovations in crop production and contributions to eastern North Carolina agriculture, he was posthumously elected to the North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2000.

Durwood learned from his legendary grandfather and parents, who expanded the family business by adding the vital community element of an elevator that connected rural North Carolina farms to markets.

Durwood began a distinguished career beginning as the first attorney at the NC Department of Agriculture. Chosen by Commissioner Jim Graham, Durwood continued to advocate for North Carolina’s farming communities as a lobbyist in the North Carolina Legislature. He later worked diligently to expand economic opportunity in NC through railroads as a resident vice president of the Norfolk Southern Corporation.

Connie Loughinghouse reflects on the role of farmland and family farms as an engine of the economy.

“I hope students will look at the uniqueness of Blacklands and North Carolina agriculture and how hard the struggle was,” she said. “Durwood’s lifelong stewardship of the land reflected his legacy and vision. He saw how farmland connects income, family and communities.”

For example

The Laughinghouse Scholarship is the university’s first and only full-time scholarship in agronomy. Although it carries the family name, Connie Laughinghouse is quick to shift her focus from her family to the road ahead.

“I hope that our gift will enable someone else to pursue their dream in agriculture – whatever that future looks like,” she said. “And however their careers allow, I hope the recipients will find their own way to pass it on.”

Connie Loughinghouse and Bradshaw were able to meet recently and shared farm stories. He plans to graduate in the spring of 2024 and is looking forward to what’s next.

“I am very grateful for this scholarship and grateful to the Laughinghouse family,” he said. “I’m ready to start my career and see what I can do – what challenges I can overcome – next.”

A second recipient of the Laughinghouse Scholarship will be announced in the fall of 2024. Bradshaw modestly hopes he sets the bar for future honorees.

“Ever since I’ve been at North Carolina State, I’ve been trying to learn and do more because I want to do more,” he said. “I hope future Laughinghouse Scholarship recipients will see this and challenge themselves as well.”

Think agronomy might be for you?

NC State students learn to challenge the boundaries of agriculture. If you are a student interested in agricultural or environmental sciences, read about our degrees of the path. You can also subscribe to a e-mail tour of our department, including details on the $200,000 scholarship opportunity.

Ready to plan your way to NC State? Set a time to talk without pressure with David Krause in our Office of Undergraduate Programs.

If you are interested in supporting our agronomy program, we welcome you consider a gift to the Coney and Durwood Scholarship Fund or to the Department of Crop and Soil Science.

Expanding access to agricultural science is part of how we develop the future.

– Jennifer Howard, North Carolina State University Colden Bradshaw is the first recipient of a full NC State Agronomy Scholarship

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