National Potato Council announces LEAF foundation to aid industry leadership development

At Potato Expo 2020, the largest annual potato industry event held in North America, growers and allied industry partners joined together to launch a new initiative dedicated to growing future leaders. The Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (LEAF), a new 501(c)3 organization, was created to provide tools, training, and support necessary to develop growers and industry members as leaders.

“Like most family farms, developing the next generation of leaders is part of our DNA. But as family farms become more complex, the demands upon our leaders become more intense,” said Shelley Olsen of LJ Olsen Inc. in Othello, Washington, and Potato LEAF chair. “I’m pleased to see the industry come together to launch the Potato LEAF organization dedicated to growing leaders who will thrive in the competitive global marketplace of the future.”

Potato LEAF also serves to encourage members to commit their time and energy to the betterment of the U.S. potato industry as a whole. Potato LEAF supports the cultivation of future leaders through three key programs:

Leadership development. Growers and industry members will learn what it takes to become effective communicators, influencers, and decision-makers for the industry.

Educational training. Future leaders will be taught how to broaden their understanding of the key opportunities, practices, and challenges affecting national potato production.

Advancement opportunities. Participants will build their industry network through opportunities for collaboration with grower-leaders from around the country.

During the keynote luncheon on Jan. 15 at Potato Expo, the National Potato Council announced a $2 million initial fundraising goal for LEAF for the rest of 2020. NPC chief operating officer Mike Wenkel then said the council would get that effort started with a $100,000 contribution.

Current Potatoes USA President Phil Hickman said the organization would match any contribution up to $500,000.

More information or to contribute to the Potato LEAF organization, visit

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