March 2011
Spudman 7: Chris Voigt

Chris Voigt is the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission (WSPC) and director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs. Chris was raised in a rural part of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. He served as the State FFA President in Oregon and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in agriculture economics. In 1997, he started work at the U.S. Potato Board and was responsible for industry communications. He left the board in 2002 to work as the executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, focusing on developing a new marketing campaign and started their involvement in governmental affairs. As executive director of the WSPC his primary responsibility is legislative and regulatory affairs, but lately he has focused on spreading the word about potato nutrition. He and his wife, Stephanie, have two children, Christopher, age 9, and Madeline, age 6.

What are the best words of advice you have received?
“If you ain’t first, you’re last.” – Ricky Bobby, from the movie Talladega Nights.
(OK, maybe that’s not the best advice I’ve heard but it’s the one that makes me smile)

What are your goals for the next year?
Convince USDA not to restrict consumption of potatoes in the school lunch and breakfast program, get potatoes into the WIC program and be a good dad and husband.

What do you do to relax or get away from work?
I love just hanging out with the family, but if I really want to relax I pack up the family, get to an ocean and grab a surfboard, or I slip on a backpack, grab the fly rod and head for the mountains. Both activities contain extended moments of peace and sudden bursts of adrenaline.

What would you like to be your lasting legacy?
It probably doesn’t matter what I’d “like” my lasting legacy to be. The reality is that my obituary will probably say that I was the crazy potato diet guy!

What are the Top 3 things on your bucket list/must do list?

  1. Start and operate a small produce farm.
  2. Take 50 laps in a NASCAR without having to worry about paying for any damages.
  3. Teach my future grandkids to snow ski.

What would you be doing if you weren’t with the Washington State Potato Commission?
I would have a squatter’s cabin or hut, either in the Alaskan wilderness or on a deserted tropical island, living off the land and off the grid, catching fish, caring for a garden, enjoying the scenery and quietness. Which means my wife, Stephanie, is very grateful I’m employed by the Washington growers and will do everything in her power to ensure I remain employed.

What is one truth you’ve learned about the potato industry?
Potato growers are the best people on earth.

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