Blog Update
Peri Warren’s grandfather and great-grandfather were farmers. But as she got older, the distance between her and agriculture grew. However, she got another taste of ag during her time as a 2017 Emerging Leader with the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge. This internship included spending time on a smallholder coffee farm in Tanzania; visiting blueberry, hazelnut and hop operations in Oregon; and having a discussion with a USDA official in Washington, D.C., about food deserts and food injustice.
Blog Update
Everyone knows that agriculture doesn’t look the way it did 100 years go. But, even in the past 10 years, technology has changed the way food is grown —if not at the speed of light, then at a speed nobody quite anticipated.

Making Emerging Leaders: Behind the scenes of an incredible journey

Posted by Brandi DeVries, Program Manager, Tue, December 12

Last week, 2017-2018 emerging leaders were announced from a record high of 163 eligible applicants. If you are reading this and applied, a virtual high-five and thank you is coming at you!


Since the Global Food Challenge program was launched in 2014, 31 students have walked through the doors of Land O’Lakes as sophomores curious about what the future will hold. It’s a similar and familiar feeling we’ve all had, whether it be your first day at school or your first day on a new job. Most arrive in shock and awe. They may wonder, “How did I get selected as an emerging leader when everyone who applied is so smart?”


As the program manager, I’m fortunate to see the amazing transformation of each sophomore to emerging leader to young professional. I may even go so far to say the favorite part of my job is helping each emerging leader tap into their full potential.


Believe it or not, this transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It happens in the six months while emerging leaders are on campus and during the unforgettable 12-week summer internship at Land O’Lakes. More importantly, it starts with desire and initiative to learn about agriculture and food insecurity. This wasn’t demonstrated only by the emerging leaders selected, but from over 400 sophomores who have applied to the internship in the last four years.


Months of planning goes into this process to find the emerging leaders each year. It began last spring when the program announced it would be adding five, new key universities to recruit talent. In the fall, 14 information sessions took place on 10 university campuses. There, I had the opportunity to meet nearly 350 students. Each time a student asked a question or introduced their self I couldn’t help but wonder, “Will this person become an emerging leader?”


You can only imagine my excitement, and relief, after the applications were reviewed and 23 students were offered an interview.  Three Land O’Lakes executive leadership members had the privilege to learn about each finalist on a personal level to select this year’s emerging leaders. If you get the chance, ask any Emerging Leader what it’s like to interview for 10 minutes, online none-the-less, with the COO of a Fortune 500 company. One word comes to mind: nerve-racking. 


In January, 10 more Emerging Leaders will walk through Land O’Lakes’ doors. I’m already feeling the excitement for them when they will exit those same doors at Land O’Lakes in August 2018 like the leaders before them, as young professionals and ambassadors for the food and agricultural industry. Follow along on this experiential learning opportunity by following us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I hope that each of you may become an emerging leader in your own way.