b"Finding His Way Back to AgMark Phillips has been chosen as a Nuffield scholar this year but working in ag wasnt always his plan.BY: ASHLEY ROBINSONGROWING UP ON THE family potato and beef farm in Arlington, P.E.I., Mark Phillips loved helping his dad John out around the farm. His father, who chose to work on the family farm before finishing his university degree, pushed Phillips to further his education before entering the world of farmingwhich he did. When I did that, I got a little bit further away from the farm. And then, upon graduation of university, I was working the co-op program. I had a job lined up and the funding fell through at the last minute. So, I ended up back on the farm for summer, Phillips explains in a phone interview.Phillips had studied business with a focus on marketing at the University of Prince Edward Island and at the end of that summer a position as the market information officer at the P.E.I. Potato Board opened up. After working on the farm all summer, Phillips found himself falling back in love with agriculture and the job seemed like the perfect way to use his university education and still work in the industry he loved.When I found myself back on the farm, it was kind of a unique situation, because I enjoyed it immensely, Phillips says. It ended up kind of being a great thing for me career wise to(L-R) Nuffield Canada Scholar Mark Phillips and his dad John Phillips. kind of refocus my interests on the farm. And it was probablyPHOTO: BRADY MCCLOSKEY PHOTOGRAPHYone of the reasons I was able to land the job (at the Potato Board) too. more established in his career making Phillips believe the Phillips has been at the P.E.I. Potato Board now for 12 years,program was just for those who had been working in ag for a and during that time his job has evolved from being solelywhile. After Donald had finished his Nuffield studies, he started focused on markets information to now include promotions andencouraging Phillips to apply.marketing for the group. I believe Mark really is the ideal candidate for the Nuffield In 2019 his family sold the farm, WestCountry Farms, toscholarship, Donald says in a phone interview. It'll give him neighbours. At the time Phillips had debated returning to thea greater perspective on something that he feels really strongly farm, but with his job at the Potato Board and his life alreadyabout. And also, to learn from that and for the betterment of not established, it wasnt the right fit for him. only himself, but also our industry here that he cares so much for.Once (the neighbours) bought the farm, dad had theLate in 2021, Phillips was announced as one of Nuffield scholars opportunity to work for them. So, it's been kind of a nicefor the year. Phillips project will focus on learning more about the transition. Because I think dad would go crazy without still beingissues producers face with respect to developing public trust and involved in the farm in some way. So, its kind of you know, ithow to work with the general public to foster an understanding of was a good change, he explains. agricultural practices and the reasons behind them.There are great resources out there for things like public trust, Becoming a Nuffield Scholar the Canadian Center for Food Integrity and places like that. But Working at the Potato Board, Phillips has had the chance toI found some of the things I was encountering I would go and work with General Manager Greg Donald. In 2015, Donald waslook at things for specific instances we'd encounter, and I didn't picked as a Canadian Nuffield scholar. Donalds project focusedfind any resources, Phillips explains. I hope to define some the international potato industrys strategic plans for long termresearch to see what some of the best methods are to deal with critical success. the public and how to communicate with them what we do.Phillips watched his boss complete his Nuffield studiesPhillips will be completing his Nuffield studies and travelling travelling the world and was intrigued. However, Donald wasfor them throughout 2022. 34SPUDSMART.COM Winter 2022"