Get to know the U of M’s Emerging Leaders

Thursday, December 28, 2017 - 5:45pm

Sarah Vater is excited to put her supply chain and operations management major into action. "It is beyond my wildest dreams that this internship exists," she says.

"I look forward to learning more about agriculture," says Vater. "My grandparent’s are pheasant farmers in central Wisconsin, but that is one small part of the industry, so I am excited to learn more about it."

Sierra Williamson was attracted to the program's emphasis on food insecurity solutions. "The internship closely aligns with my personal and professional goals to help feed the world,” she says.

"I am very grateful to be a part of communities where agriculture is important, both in my hometown and at CFANS," says Williamson. "They have given me the education and experience that I needed and I am thrilled for the year I have ahead of me."

Two U of M students landed coveted spots in the most recent cohort of Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders at Land O’Lakes. This year, ten new interns have been selected out of a pool of 163 applicants—a record high. The interns are college sophomores who are working with Land O’Lakes to find new ways to meet the challenge of feeding nine billion people by 2050.  


Meet Sarah Vater

Hometown: Osceola, Wis.

College: Carlson School of Management

Studying: Supply chain and operations management, Spanish

Why did you apply to the program? “It’s an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on something that is a huge issue in our world today. Land O’ Lakes is also such an amazing company. I love their culture and I think they’re doing awesome things, which I am really excited to be a part of.”

What was your reaction to learning you were accepted? “I was shocked, excited, and so happy. I could not stop grinning for a couple of days afterward. The night before my interview I only got about two hours of sleep because I was so nervous and excited!”

How do you describe this internship to friends and family? “I tell them that this summer, I have an opportunity with Land O’ Lakes to work on a team that aims to solve the issues presented by the world’s population growth and how to feed everyone.”

“This is a valuable chance to tackle big global supply chain issues, problem-solve, and empower people in a real-world context. It’s one thing to learn about what is going on in the world in the classroom, and it’s another thing to actually see it for yourself. I have a feeling this next summer, especially the time spent in Africa, will play a huge part in the rest of my life. ”

Learn more about Sarah


Meet Sierra Williamson

Hometown: Sherburn, Minn.

College: College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences

Studying: Agricultural and food business management

What are your professional passions? “I hope to continue to have innovative ideas and be exposed to passionate leadership within the agricultural and food security industry so that my career can contribute to meeting future food demands, making sure food supplies are safe and nutritious, and making sure agriculture is safely creating jobs to help the economy.”

What's excites you about this opportunity? “At the end of the day, we all eat food—it’s a way we come together. Witnessing food insecurity in a developing country first-hand will help me understand how I want to contribute to food security solutions. The emerging leaders also get to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with policy-makers, which is an area I am not really familiar with so I am excited to learn more about that side of the industry.”

What was your reaction to learning you were accepted? “I called my parents right away and they were just as excited as I was.”

“I am so grateful to Land O’ Lakes for putting me in a position where I can help their company and agriculture, as well as advance my professional career. Witnessing food insecurity in a developing country first-hand will help me understand how I want to contribute to food security solutions.”

Learn more about Sierra


Learn more about the Emerging Leaders program

photo credits: Sierra Williamson, Land O'Lakes