Tomorrow's Leaders Trained at 2016 Potato Industry Leadership Institute

Participants in the 2016 Potato Industry Leadership Institute: 
Front row, left to right: Greg Campbell, Grafton, N.D.; Bryan Fischer, Kalkaska, Mich.; Troy Sorenson, Alliance, Neb.; Toby Price, Kennewick, Wash.; Jordan Driscoll, Pocatello, Idaho; Katie

Participants in the 2016 Potato Industry Leadership Institute:


Front row, left to right: Greg Campbell, Grafton, N.D.; Bryan Fischer, Kalkaska, Mich.; Troy Sorenson, Alliance, Neb.; Toby Price, Kennewick, Wash.; Jordan Driscoll, Pocatello, Idaho; Katie Walchli, Hermiston, Ore.;

Middle row, left to right: Rebecca Jones, Moses Lake, Wash.; Andy Schroeder, Antigo, Wis.; Jared Erickson, Grand Forks, N.D.; Tyler Thompson, Center, Colo.; Jaren Raybould, Saint Anthony, Idaho; Ryan Crane, Exeter, Maine (2017 Grower-Leader); MikeKirsch, Madras, Ore.; Karl DeJonge, Manhattan, Mont.;

Back row, left to right: Bridgett Lake-Cheff, Ronan, Mont. (2016 Grower-Leader); Ben Zechman, Minden, Neb.; Patrick Morris, Lansing, Mich.; Tanner Wahlen, Aberdeen, Idaho; Casey Park, Rexburg, Idaho; Brian Mahany, Arkport, N.Y.; Clay Allen, Pasco, Wash.; T.J. Hall, Hoople, N.D.; Travis Meacham, Moses Lake, Wash.

March 01, 2016
The Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) Class of 2016 brought together 23 outstanding potato growers and industry representatives. The annual program, administered by the National Potato Council (NPC) and the United States Potato Board (USPB), identifies and trains the next generation of industry leaders.

From February 17-24, Potato Industry Leadership Institute participants traveled from potato growing regions across the United States to attend eight days of industry training and professional development. This year's class kicked off in Grand Forks, N.D., where the class received an overview of the local and national potato industry, including some of the challenges and issues beyond the production sector.

NPC Executive Vice President and CEO John Keeling provided attendees with an overview of the industry's pressing public policy issues. USPB Chief Marketing Officer John Toaspern gave a market and consumer update and highlighted international export opportunities for potatoes and potato products. Participants toured Hoverson Farms and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Potato Research Worksite and were able to attend an exciting University of North Dakota hockey game on their last night in Grand Forks.

Attendees then flew to Washington, D.C, and heard from public policy and communication experts speaking at NPC's Potato D.C. Fly-In. While in Washington, D.C., they were immersed in the legislative and regulatory priorities of the U.S. potato industry and practiced how to effectively deliver key messages to Congress. The program finished with a day of lobbying visits to offices on Capitol Hill, where participants joined their state grower delegations for the Fly-In to meet with members of Congress and advocate for industry priorities.

Bridgett Lake-Cheff of Lake Seed Inc. in Ronan, Mont., served as the group's Grower-Leader, after being elected to the position in 2015.

Bridgett Lake-Cheff:

“The PILI program has helped me grow within the industry, preparing me to become the best person and leader I can possibly be”
At the conclusion of the event, the 2016 class elected Ryan Crane of Crane Brothers Farms in Exeter, Maine, to serve as the 2017 Grower-Leader.

The Potato Industry leadership Institute is made possible each year through a major sponsorship from Syngenta.