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Potato industry Leadership Institute


February 21-March 1, 2018

San Luis Valley, CO and Washington, D.C.

Cultivating Future Leaders

The Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) provides tools to help younger growers and industry members develop as leaders and motivate them to commit their time and energy to the betterment of the U. S. potato industry. The Leadership Institute is an eight-day program that provides an overview of the U.S. potato industry, the challenges and issues beyond the production sector, and the roles of the industry's state and national organizations in maintaining a positive business climate for potato growers.

This Leadership Institute takes participants to a growing region to conduct in-depth discussions with upper management on key industry issues, and then concludes in Washington, D.C., for an overview of public policy issues and lobbying training.

Institute graduates are one of the U.S. potato industry's greatest assets. Participants develop a broad understanding of the industry and a common bond that is envisioned to be a wellspring of leadership for the industry. Many important and complex decisions lie ahead for the industry. By creating this leadership base today, the industry is investing wisely in its future.

register or apply for the scholarship: 

Registration Form

Scholarship Application

The Potato Industry Leadership Institute is a joint venture of the National Potato Council and Potatoes USA and is sponsored by Syngenta and Farm Credit.







At the conclusion of each year's class, participants elect one of their classmates to serve as the Grower-Leader for the next year's class. This Grower-Leader then attends the following year's session, serving as a mentor to the new class, while also assisting Potatoes USA and NPC staff throughout the Institute.

Below are those elected Grower-Leaders of the PILI.

2018             Chad Platt, Washington

2017             Travis Meacham, Washington

2016             Bridget Lake Cheff, Montana

2015             Reid Mattive, Colorado             

2014             Eric Schroeder, Wisconsin            

2013             Derek Peterson, Idaho             

2012             Grant Morris, Washington             

2011              Rex Calloway, Washington             

2010             Nick Johnson, Washington             

2009             Eric Halverson, North Dakota             

2008             Ernie Ford, Colorado             

2007             Matt Porter, Maine             

2006             Ralph Child, New York             

2005              John Meyer, New York            

2004              George Cariveau, Minnesota             


2017 Potato Industry Leadership Institute

The Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) class of 2017 included 22 potato growers and industry representatives.  This year's class kicked off in Bangor, Maine, where the class received an overview of the local and national potato industry, including some of the challenges and issues faced in the Northeast including a limited growing season. John Toaspern of Potatoes USA gave a market update. Participants toured Crane Brothers Farm in Exeter to see washing and packaging and the latest storage technology.  Dominic LaJoie of LaJoie Growers and NPC Vice President of Environmental Affairs provided advocacy tips. Two highlights of the trip were visiting Maine Seed Potato’s Early Generation Nuclear Seed Facility and McCain Foods, where millions of pounds of fries in every shape are processed. The Maine trip concluded with a visit to the U.S.-Canada border to hear from U.S. Customs and Border Protection on agricultural and animal transportation from Canada into the U.S.

During the Washington, D.C, segment, attendees demonstrated their culinary skills at a cook-off held to show the healthiness, convenience and diversity of cooking with potatoes. Participants created unique appetizers targeted at busy food enthusiasts.

 The rest of the week featured public policy experts who explained the legislative and regulatory priorities of the U.S. potato industry. Attendees then practiced how to effectively deliver key messages to Congress. To culminate the week, the class put their sharpened communication skills into use during lobbying visits to Capitol Hill. Participants partnered with their state grower delegations to deliver the industry’s messages.

Maine_sign1.jpg Kelly_and_Lyla.jpg



Lucas Wysocki, Wisconsin Rapids, WI; Jay LaJoie, Van Buren, ME; Lynn Dickman, Hancock, WI; Lindsey Dodgen, Denver, CO; Suzanne Price, Washington, DC; Lyla Davis, Monte Vista, CO; Brant Darrington, Declo, ID; Matthew Skogman, Foster City, MI;  Braden Lake, Rupert, ID; Mike Larson, Rupert, ID; Sander Dagen, Karstad, MN; Russ Kehl, Quincy, WA; Nate Lancaster, Connell, WA; Jared Smith, Blanca, CO; Kelly Kuball, Bakersfield, CA;  Chad Platt, Kennewick, WA; Nathan Bula, Oxford, WI; Travis Meacham, Moses Lake, WA; Paul Streich, Kalispell, MT; David Fedje, Crystal, ND; and Scott Fenters, Klamath Falls, OR, Jordan Reed, Pasco, WA.

2016 POtato Industry leadership institute:

Jordan Driscoll, ID; Travis Meacham, WA; Brandon Price, WA; Rebecca Jones, WA; Clay Allen, WA; Mike Larson, ID; Casey Park, ID; Tanner Wahlen, ID; Jaren Raybould, ID; Ryan Crane, ME; Troy Sorensen, NE; Andy Schroeder, WI; Katie Walchli, OR; Benjamin Zechman, NE; Jared Erickson, ND; Bryan Fischer, MI; Patrick Morris, MI; Greg Campbell, ND; Thomas Hall, ND; Brian Mahany, NY; Tyler Thompson, CO; Michael Kirsch, OR; Bridget Cheff, MT; Karl DeJonge, MT


2015 potato industry leadership institute:

Shelley Olsen, Othello, Washington; Tyler Tschirky, Eltopia, Washington; Trever Belnap, Lewisville, Idaho; Megan Finney, Klamath Falls, Oregon; Thomas Campbell, Big Lake, Minnesota; Barbra Davis, Center, Colorado; Henry Nira, LaSalle, Colorado; Erin Nissen, Mosca, Colorado; Joe Howard, Boardman, Oregon; Donny Krautscheid, Kennewick, Washington; Scott Payton, Gaylord, Michigan; Reid Mattive, Monte Vista, Colorado; Tyler Backemeyer, Columbus, Nebraska; Dean Bair, Alliance, Nebraska; Josh Knights, Hancock, Wisconsin; Kevin Storm, Cass City, Michigan; Ben Harris, Moses Lake, Washington; Mark Telford, Arco, Idaho; Mary LeMere, Plover, Wisconsin; Jennifer Borowicz, Crookston, Minnesota; Kyle Jacobs, Hamer, Idaho; Robbie Irving, Caribou, Maine; Kyle Michael. Urbana, Ohio; Ragen Darrington, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Dana Rady, Antigo, Wisconsin; Bridgett Cheff, Ronan, Montana; Adam Novello, East Lansing, Michigan


Jordan Thomas, Hamer, Idaho; Derek Davenport, Pasco, Washington; Damon Johnson, Park River, North Dakota; John (JD) Schroeder, Antigo, Wisconsin; Dillon VanOrden, Pingree, Idaho; Sara Corey, Monticello, Maine; Stephanie Andersen, Blanchard, Michigan; Sean Edler, Arbyrd, Missouri.; Erin Cooper, Monte Vista, Colorado; James Macy, Culver, Oregon; Daniel Gundersen, Burlington, Washington; Reid Mattive, Monte Vista, Colorado; Peggy Grover, Rexburg, Idaho; Ashley James, Kennewick, Washington; Chris Hansen, Bliss, New York; Heidi Alsum-Randall, Friesland, Wisconsin; Brandon Rattray, Farmington, New Mexico; Loren Wernette, Weidman, Michigan; Lee Andersen, Iona, Idaho; Kevin Adamson, Bakersfield, California; Dan Hafner, Bryant, Wisconsin; Cory Myers, Center, Colorado; Timothy Droge, Manhattan, Montana; Eric Schroeder, Antigo, Wisconsin



Jennifer Coombs-Kelly, Elmer, New Jersey; Christopher Wada, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Remington Kendall, Boise, Idaho; Blake Thorlund, Greenville, Michigan; Megan Mattive, Monte Vista, Colorado; Randi Hammer, Pasco, Washington; Tanya Fell, La Salle, Colorado; Shawn Doyen, Mapleton, Maine; Mike Sitzmann, Tappen, North Dakota; Adam Naslund, Cody, Nebraska; Ryan Holterhoff, Moses Lake, Washington; Jennifer Gogan, Houlton, Maine; Kerry Heilig, Moses Lake, Washington; Michael Wenkel, Dewitt, Michigan; Jared Clavin, Oakdale, California; Reed Tobol, Ronan, Montana; Steven Tarbet, Mountain Home, Idaho; Klade Williams, Rupert, Idaho; Eric Schroeder, Antigo, Wisconsin; Brad Knights, Stevens Point, Wisconsin


2012 Potato Industry Leadership Institute:

Jeff Howard, Michigan; Tyler Wagstaff, Oregon; Derek Peterson, Idaho; Jonathan Webster, Idaho; Grant Mattive, Colorado; Richard Donaldson, Washington; Michael Hoverson, North Dakota; Mark Finnessy, Wisconsin; Nathan Bender, California; Brian Meisner, Colorado; Matt Funk, Washington; Troy Meacham, Washington; Jonathan Schutter, Montana; Devin Taylor, Idaho; Grant Morris, Washington; Lance Peterson, Oregon; Grant Monie, Texas; Wade Stults, Colorado; Brandon Berce, Maine


2011 Potato Industry Leadership Institute:

Gary Mahany, New York; Hollis Baley, Oregon; Britt Raybould, Idaho; Tyler Mitchell, Colorado; James Mortenson, Wisconsin; Joe Seis, Wisconsin; Laura Bahn, Idaho; Mike Hawley, Washington; Keith Groven, North Dakota; Jack Meyer, Montana; Terrance Lindauer, Idaho; Lance Hapka, Minnesota; Jon Iverson, Oregon; Jeffery McCullough, Colorado; Marc Staunton, California; Trent Munden, Washington; Donald Kitchen, Michigan; Rex Calloway, Washington; Jason Wollard, Maine; Grant Morris, Washington; Chris Johns, Florida; Ryan Haynie, Colorado


2010 Potato Industry Leadership Institute:  

Kael Koompin, Idaho; Pat DuRussel, Michigan; Brianne O'Leary, Maine; Reagan Bush, Colorado; Todd Gerratt, Idaho; Jason Davenport, California; Casey Hoverson, North Dakota; Andrew Houser, Colorado; Pascal Bolduc, Washington; Steven Gangwish, South Dakota; Gary Wysocki, Wisconsin; Daniel Snyder, Idaho; Nick Johnson, Washington; Alex Tiede, Idaho; Jeremy Arnold, Idaho; Gregg Garrison, Maine; Rex Calloway, Washington; Steve Streich, Montana; Greg Harris, Oregon; Tyler Breum, Washington


2009 Potato Industry Leadership Institute:

Eric Halverson, North Dakota; Eric Wahlen, Montana; Erica Fitzpatrick-Peabody, Maine; Amanda Leo, California; Travis Blacker, Idaho; Carrie Wohleb, Washington; Nora Olsen, Idaho; Nick Johnson, Washington; Randy Leavitt, Maine; Mike Macy, Oregon; Adam Boyd, Alaska; Mike Bonemeyer, Colorado; Rick Vivatson, North Dakota; Jared Gehring, Idaho; Rob Schroeder, Wisconsin; Doug Poe, Washington; Chris Long, Michigan; Eric Davis, Washington; Miguel Diaz., Colorado; Brian Kirschenmann, California


2008 Potato Industry Leadership Institute:

Bryan Wada, Idaho; Lisa Hickman, Nebraska; Jenn Holzer, Washington; Jeremy Peterson, Oregon; Ernie Ford, Colordao; Chris Slagell, Oklahoma; Tim Venhuizen, Montana; Keith Tinsey, Michigan; Layne Polatis, Idaho; Jon Schodde, Idaho; Jay LaJoie, Maine; Jeffrey Blanksma, Idaho; Douglas Somers, Wisconsin; Cortney Felmlee, Colorado; Matthew Smartt, Colorado; Ryan Sams, Washington; Kristopher Butcher, Washington; Christopher Matthews, Oregon; Alan Moir, Maine; Eric Halverson, North Dakota

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