Potato Industry Leadership Institute’s Class of 2023 Announced

Mike Phillips, Walther Farms in Three Rivers, Mich. will serve as 2023 Grower Leader

The Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) is pleased to announce the 2023 class of the Potato Industry Leadership Institute. Over the 10-day program, participants will receive an overview of the local and national potato industry, including some of the challenges and issues beyond the production sector, along with tours of local agricultural businesses while traveling through New York and Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

Additionally, participants will hear from public policy and communication experts and practice how to effectively deliver key messages. Finally, the class will join other growers from their state to educate members of Congress on U.S. potato industry policy priorities.

The 2023 Potato Industry Leadership Class includes: 

• Thomas Baker, Bakersfield, CA
• Chelsea Gray, Denver, CO
• Trey Jones, Blanca, CO
• Kelci Martinez, Monte Vista, CO
• Brogan Darrington, Declo, ID
• Dalan Lerwill, Albion, ID
• Luke Radford, Rupert, ID
• Danny Deprey, Mars Hill, ME
• Kenneth Irving, Caribou, ME
• Eric Makarewicz, Elmira, MI
• Ryan Pelletier, McMillan, MI
• Aaron Groves, Jackson, MO

• Ben De Jonge, Manhattan, MT
• Nick Desautel, Grafton, ND
• Cole Vculek, Crete, ND
• James Farris, Culver, OR
• Bryan Bender, Chambersburg, PA
• John Scheuring, Dalhard, TX
• Tressa Radach, Moses Lake, WA
• Chad Sullivan, Pasco, WA
• Paul Yamane, Moses Lake, WA
• Nicola Carey, Bancroft, WI
• Lucas Schroeder, Antigo, WI

Mike Phillips of Walther Farms in Three Rivers, Michigan – a 2022 graduate of the program and the Grower Leader for the 2023 class – shared, “It’s easy to get laser focused on your local industry and company. The program allowed me to see the bigger picture and meet some amazing current and future potato industry leaders. Networking during our travels from coast to coast, touring multiple operations, professional business training, and educating Capitol Hill on the industry, sums up the experience of a lifetime!”


Potato LEAF, a 501(c)3 organization, works to provide tools, training, and support necessary to develop growers and industry members as leaders. As part of its mission to encourage and train future leaders, the organization seeks to support graduate-level researchers driving innovation within the potato industry. To learn more, visit pleaf.org.  

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