The Potato Leadership, Education and Advancement Foundation, or Potato LEAF for short, is the funding arm the U.S. potato industries’ effort to support leadership development, educational programs, and other advancement efforts.
Vice President Mike Wenkel says Potato LEAF was founded two years ago and has so far, thanks to the generosity of the industry, been successful. “Our campaign for the Founders Society, collectively, we brought in pledges and contributions through that campaign of over $2.1 million to advance leadership development within the potato industry here in the U.S.”
Wenkel says part of that goes to the Potato Industry Leadership Institute. “Which is a class of between 20 and 24 individuals from the industry that we spend ten days with developing leadership skills, seeing some other areas of potato production from where they’re at, and learning how to tell the story of potato production to their elected officials as well as consumers in general.”
The institute is not a new idea. “The program’s been going on for a long time. We actually have over 300 graduates within the industry that have participated in that. A lot of them are leaders both in Potatoes USA, National Potato Council, and many of the state organizations that have gone through the program and been able to use those skills to advance the industry.”