Leadership Development

For more than 60 years, the foundation and success of the potato industry has been built on the hard work and participation of its grower leaders.

Recognizing the need for a continued investment to grow people who grow potatoes, the 501(c)3 nonprofit Potato Leadership Education and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) was created in 2020 to lead the leadership development efforts for the industry.

To learn more visit pleaf.org.

The Leadership Institute provides up-and-coming leaders with the tools they need to achieve success in the potato industry. Applications for the Leadership Institute are accepted annually from August to October for the following year.

This 10-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. The 2024 program will begin in Idaho with leadership training and industry tours (traveling from Boise to Idaho Falls) and conclude in Washington, D.C., where the class will participate in NPC’s Washington Summit.  

“The Potato Industry Leadership Institute not only highlights the challenges we face as an industry but equips you with the knowledge and skills to effectively combat the issues.” – Thomas Baker with Allied Potato, Inc. in Bakersfield, Calif., and a 2023 Leadership Institute participant

Additional information can be found here

Upcoming dates:
February 21 – March 1, 2024, Idaho to Washington, D.C.
February 19-28, 2025                                 
February 18-27, 2026
February 17-26, 2027


Potato LEAF’s newest program, Leadership in the Field: From Battlefield to Potato Field, will offer unique opportunities that utilize the resources of America’s most revered battlefield to help facilitate experiential teaching and support effective leadership development.

The program will be held July 15-18, 2024, at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The program will educate visitors about elements of the battle, including how ordinary people were asked to do extraordinary things that impacted the war.

Applications are being accepted through March 1 and are open to anyone in the U.S. potato industry. Participants will be selected with preference given to individuals who have participated in leadership programs and are currently serving or have served in industry leadership roles.

Additional information can be found here


A $10,000 academic scholarship is awarded annually to one graduate-level student conducting research for the benefit of the potato industry. The winner is selected based on several criteria, including academic achievement, leadership abilities, potato-related areas of graduate study, benefit to the U.S. potato industry/commercial value, extracurricular activities, and grades.  

Application Information is made available annually in April. 

Jacob Meeuwsen, Ph.D. student at Washington State University (WSU), was the recipient of Potato LEAF’s 2023-24 Academic Scholarship.