The 2019 Hall of Distinction Induction Ceremony was held on March 7, 2019 at L'auberge Casino & Hotel in Baton Rouge.
Dr. Grady Coburn
For the past 40 years, Grady Coburn has owned Pest Management Enterprises in Cheneyville, serving as an independent agricultural consultant and contract researcher. His 150-acre research farm serves as an invaluable laboratory for safely evaluating pesticide performance and sharing his knowledge statewide.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at LSU, Coburn completed master’s and doctorate degrees in entomology there. He has since become an invaluable resource for Louisiana farmers, helping them improve pest management and optimize profits.
Coburn has applied his knowledge and leadership for the benefit of all farmers. He consults frequently with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.
He’s a charter member, past president and former board member of the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants. He’s now the organization’s longest-serving active member and frequently sought for his expertise and advice.
Coburn is also president of the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association and the Foundation for the Environmental Agriculture Education. He is vice chairman of the Global Alliance of Independent Agricultural Consultants and is the longest-serving member of the Louisiana Advisory Commission on Pesticides.
A talented businessman and extraordinary contributor to Louisiana’s cotton growers, Jack Hamilton garnered a national and international reputation as an innovative farmer and ginner, and as a leader. He organized the Louisiana Cotton Producers Association, serving as its first president, and was a driving force behind the Louisiana Independent Cotton Warehouse Association and the Louisiana Corporation Self-Insurance Program.
His accomplishments are perhaps even more impressive, considering that Hamilton’s career in agriculture didn’t begin until after college. Born to a nonfarming family in Mississippi, he served as a U.S. Marine in the Korean War then earned an accounting degree from LSU.
In the mid-1950s, he went to work for the Amacker family in Lake Providence, Louisiana, as general manager of the Hollybrook Gin & Warehouse. The large-capacity gin was part of historic Hollybrook Plantation, which includes more than 10,000 acres of cotton, soybeans, corn and rice. Under Hamilton’s leadership, Hollybrook was transformed into one of the nation’s most successful and productive agricultural operations.
Though he passed away in 2001, Hamilton will be long regarded for his innovation with farming and processing technology, along with advocating for improvements with cotton processing and the cotton classing system.
He was one of only four Louisiana natives who served as chairperson for the National Cotton Council of America, and he served as president of The Cotton Foundation from 1995-97. He went on to serve on the board of Cotton Council International, which promotes exports of U.S. cotton worldwide.
His numerous career honors include Cotton Farming Magazine naming him Hamilton Farmer of the Year in 1999. He was posthumously honored with the National Cotton Council’s highest honor, the Oscar Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award.
George LaCour, Jr.
George LaCour’s GNG Farm in Morganza started with 300 acres 35 years ago. It’s now a 6,000-acre operation, producing sugarcane, soybeans, corn and wheat. But LaCour’s contribution with cotton is special. He played a critical role in re-establishing cotton in Pointe Coupee parish, where it had been abandoned in the early 1970s in favor of more profitable crops.
When the economics changed a decade later, farmers saw the advantage of cotton and its ability in surviving droughts. But there were several challenges, namely the lack of an infrastructure and a nearby gin.
LaCour took the reins in working tirelessly to build Tri-Parish Gin in Lettsworth on the northern end of the parish as a grower-owned ginning and whole-seed marketing operation.
In the process, LaCour embraced his role in leadership. Through the years, he’s served as president of the Southern Cotton Ginners, president of the Louisiana Cotton Producers and recently as immediate past chairman of The Cotton Board.
His work in advancing the agricultural industry has garnered worldwide respect. He has traveled as far as China and Vietnam to share his knowledge and evaluate the effectiveness of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program. He has been a frequent presenter at the Soybean Congress and Cotton Congress meetings, representing Monsanto.
For his enthusiasm and commitment to the cotton industry, LaCour earned the 2015 High Cotton Award from the Delta Farm Press and was named 2016 Ginner of the Year by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association.
Only the second woman to be inducted into the Hall of Distinction, Linda Zaunbrecher is a pioneer of female leadership in Louisiana agriculture. And while farming and ranching define her professional life, Zaunbrecher doesn’t come from an agricultural background.
That began after marrying her husband, Wayne, a successful rice and cattle farmer in Vermilion Parish. Her father-in-law also encouraged her to take on work not traditionally considered for women, both on the farm and in leadership.
In the 1980s, Zaunbrecher joined the Louisiana Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee and eventually served as chairwoman. In that role, she cultivated leadership opportunities for women in every parish of the state.
In 1990, Zaunbrecher was the first woman elected to the Louisiana Farm Bureau Board of Directors’ executive committee, serving as third vice president for 25 years. She was also the first woman elected to the Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance board of directors.
One of Zaunbrecher’s greatest contributions to the industry is her pivotal role in creating the Louisiana Farm Bureau Foundation, which helps fund the Louisiana Ag in the Classroom program, as well as scholarships for agriculture students. Reflecting her work, the foundation renamed the award as the Linda and Wayne Zaunbrecher Scholarship.
In 1995, Linda Zaunbrecher was recognized as International Rice Festival Honoree for her contributions to the industry. In 1998, she received the Rice Farming Magazine Award in recognition of her determination and ability in overcoming obstacles.