2024 Spudman Impact Awards – Nora Olsen

Nora Olsen

Professor and Potato Specialist, University of Idaho

When she first got involved in the potato industry attending Washington State University, Nora Olsen fell in love — with both the crop and the industry as a whole.

Nora Olsen

“Once you start working in potatoes you are hooked. (They are) fascinating from a biological and agronomic perspective, and what an incredible food crop to feed the world,” Olsen said.

Olsen channels that passion in her role as professor and potato specialist at University of Idaho, where she just celebrated 25 years. Olsen’s job continues to challenge her, as each day is different and brings new opportunities to solve grower problems and keep the potato industry strong.

“This job is creative, with hands-on applied research and direct interaction with the industry,” she said.

Olsen appreciates working alongside and learning from others in the potato industry. The thing she most enjoys in her role is recognizing problems facing the industry, developing science-based solutions and relaying that information back to growers.

Olsen points to a number of mentors who have helped her in her career. Notable names include Bob Thornton (Washington State University), Gale Kleinkopf (University of Idaho) and Phil Nolte (University of Idaho.)

For others in the industry, Olsen offers several snippets of advice: enjoy what you’re doing, contribute, challenge yourself, learn every day and — most especially — be grateful.

75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345


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