Potato Industry Leadership Institute

Cultivating Future Leaders

The Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) Class of 2020 brought together 24 outstanding potato growers and industry representatives for eight days of training and professional development. The annual program, held this year from Feb. 20-27, is administered by the National Potato Council (NPC) and Potatoes USA.

This year's class kicked off in Detroit, Mich., where the class received an overview of the local and national potato industry, including some of the challenges and issues beyond the production sector. Highlights included a tour of the Better Made chip facility in Dearborn, a tour of Michigan State University’s research farm and labs, a visit to Techmark, Inc., an agricultural engineering firm in Lansing specializing in storage and production systems, and a tissue cutting demonstration at Sklarczyk Seed Farm.

Attendees then flew to Washington, D.C, and heard from public policy and communication experts speaking at NPC's 202 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.

register or apply for a scholarship: 

Applications for the 2021 program will be available in August 2020. 

For questions about the program email Hillary Hutchins at hillaryh@nationalpotatocouncil.org


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.

2021             Guthry Laurie, Michigan
2020             Blake Matthews, Idaho
2019             Eric Jemmett Idaho
                     Jason Stoddard, Idaho
2018             Dave Warsh, Colorado
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