Meet Global Food Challenge Emerging Leader, Nic Pothoff

Thursday, May 20, 2021 - 12:30pm

Nic Pothoff, a 2020-2021 Global Food Challenge Emerging Leader from the University of Minnesota, has had an interest in agriculture systems his whole life: from a childhood spent working on his family’s farm to his role as an admissions ambassador for the University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS).

In the interview below, he answers questions about his involvement with the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge (GFC) Emerging Leader program, his U of M experience, and how he hopes to make an impact.

Q: What prompted your interest in the Global Food Challenge program and becoming an Emerging Leader? 

I served as a state Future Farmers of America (FFA) officer in Minnesota. As officers, we get to connect with a lot of leaders across the agriculture industry, as well as smaller ag businesses. I connected with Land O’Lakes at one of those industry meetings, which is where I first heard about the Global Food Challenge internship. Some of our past officers had been awarded the internship in previous years, and their experiences really drove me to apply.

Q: What do you hope to learn and achieve as an Emerging Leader?

As an Emerging Leader, I hope to grow my understanding of agriculture systems, and the ways they operate on a global scale. I am minoring in international agriculture and majoring in agricultural communications and marketing, so I’m particularly interested in how consumers perceive agriculture and how it’s marketed across the globe. Through the Global Food Challenge, I also want to learn more about how other countries are feeding their populations, addressing food access and insecurity, and improving agricultural communications. That’s been a core value for me throughout my college career as well.

Q: Could you talk a little bit more about that?

Yes, definitely. Agriculture and food systems are a big part of who I am as a person, and how I identify. I grew up on a 1,200-acre corn and soybean farm in Jackson, Minnesota—my family’s farm. Growing up so closely intertwined with agriculture systems in Minnesota really drove me to study agriculture in college, and long-term, I hope to find ways to strengthen those systems to better serve communities. I’m excited about the Global Food Challenge because I feel like the values of the program really align with my personal values around sustainability and ag business.

Q: What are you involved with outside of GFC Emerging Leaders? 

I actually just joined a new student group at the University of Minnesota this year, which will be my tenth! I’m a part of the soils club; the ag education, communications and marketing club; the ag business club; and I serve as an admissions ambassador for CFANS. I’m also a part of FarmHouse Fraternity, and do a lot of communications work running our website and social media. As a group, all of us in FarmHouse also try to do service projects in the Twin Cities area. 

This year, I also started working at the University’s visit office, which has completely changed my college experience. I’m a very service-driven person, and at the visit office I get to answer prospective students’ questions, give them tours, share my passion, and help them make the choice that’s right for them.

Q: What are your plans for the future? 

As I mentioned earlier, I’m really interested in global food and agriculture systems, and I feel like having conversations with people across the industry will make me a better advocate for sustainable and strong ag systems. I actually just finished an application for studying abroad in London next fall, and I’ve been reaching out to farmers in the UK and Ireland and other countries to see if they might be open to connecting while I’m there.