Advisory Board

Fisheries Enhancement Specialists, Planning, Volunteer Services, Engineering, Economist, Government Affairs, Project Development, Strategic & Public Affairs


Megan and Tom SorbyMegan & Tom Sorby (2)
True Blue Aqua
 True Blue Aqua has brought together a group of diverse aquaculture backgrounds to offer a unique perspective on every situation. Founders, Tom and Megan Sorby, have worked in both the research and commercial sectors, learning from each situation and bringing those facilities up to both environmentally and economically sustainable operation. Both hold Master’s degrees in Sustainable Aquaculture and have worked with multiple species across the spectrum, freshwater to marine, finfish to shellfish, and much more. Tom’s expertise and passion lies in optimizing growth through improved nutrition and feeding regimes, optimizing larval rearing protocols to increase survival, overall fish health, but also designing systems and utilizing new technologies in creating optimal culture conditions. Megan also enjoys being hands on in system building and design while focusing her efforts on improving broodstock management and incubation techniques, culture of live feed and enhanced nutrition, water chemistry and its effects on optimal rearing conditions, particularly in recirculating conditions, as well as facilities management, permitting and compliance, and diversification of facilities into new products. Together with their colleagues, they bring a well-rounded group with up-to-date experience and eyes towards future development.
To learn more about us or hear more about examples of our work, please reach out to the team by contacting us through our website,
Sean Nepper:  
Director of operations for one of the largest commercial salmonid hatcheries, contained broodstock and egg sales of SteelheaIMG_3638 (3)d, Coho and Atlantic Salmon eggs facilities in the US, rearing from eggs to market. One of the most knowledgeable and experienced in Salmonid broodstock management, spawning and rearing in the U.S.
He graduated from Washington State University with BS in Wildlife Biology and Aquatic Ecology. He has spent 20+ years in Salmonid Broodstock management and Commercial Production systems. His experience also includes 20+ years’ experience working with State, Federal, and Tribal stakeholders on various fishery enhancement projects and issues. He is the past president of United States Trout Farmers Association and he currently serves on the National Aquaculture Association Board of Directors. NWFE turns to Sean often for advisory, consult, assessments and recommendations.


Gregg BonackerGregg Bonacker
 A degree background that is non-traditional when compared to most in aquaculture, has been foundational to my thirty eight year career. This degree path started with a B.Sc. in Physical Geography (estuarine geomorphology), a M.Sc. in Resource Geography (marine resource management) and a minor in Economics. This academic mixture has served well both for employers and myself personally. My career track has included managing various species in wide-spread locations, from Atlantic salmon farms and hatcheries from Washington State to the coast of Maine, to a trout farm and hatchery in California, to a shrimp farm in Hawaii. Along the way I have designed RAS for hatcheries, consulted in aquaculture development both domestically and internationally and managed oyster and clam farms. Currently I’m working for a broodstock farm producing steelhead, coho and Atlantic salmon eggs. All but the mollusks required a firm grasp on feed from the nutritional aspect to feeding techniques, from performance and economic analysis to waste management. For just shy of 13 years I represented EWOS/Cargill (international feed company) in the Pacific Northwest where I grew up and obtained my education.
So, it is safe to say that I have had an eclectic career in aquaculture. This variety has provided a broad base of experience for dealing with issues that many managers in aquaculture face. I don’t get surprised often, but often enough to stay enthusiastically interested in the operational side of aquaculture.
Chief Dave LeitchAB- Chief Dave Leitch
Fire Chief Dave Leitch has been part of Yakima Counties Fire Service in Washington State for the past 40 years.  After 13 years as a volunteer firefighter Dave was hired fulltime as the Fire District # 12’s first fulltime Training Officer.   He was promoted to Deputy Chief of Operations & Safety in 1996.  He served as Fire Chief for 16 years recently retiring in 2016.  Dave is currently serving as a volunteer Fire Chief for Yakima County FD 1.   He has actively worked with, recruited and retained 85 to 100 volunteers with Yakima FD 12 during his career.   The Fire District served over 16,000 people spread over 100 square miles.   Chief Leitch has been an active member on Type II Incident Management Teams since 1997.   Serving as a Division Supervisor, Operations Chief and is now currently an Incident Commander for Washington state.  Dave and his fire teams have traveled across the western states managing large wildfires.  For 22 years Dave served on Washington State’s Labor and Industries Firefighter Safety Technical Review Team.   Dave has been recognized as a leader in Inter-Agency cooperation working with county, state, and federal agencies.   The Washington State Fire Chief’s Association honored Chief Leitch with their “Fire Chief of the Year Award” in 2008.   Chief Leitch is an avid outdoorsmen, re-engaging in many activities out of doors since his retirement.
Christopher Vandenberg J.D.
Advisory and Technical consultant Christopher Vandenberg was a seasonal fisheries technician and biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other state and federal agencies. In 1995 he graduated from Humboldt State University with a BS in Fisheries Biology. In 2010, Mr. Vandenberg graduated from Willamette University Law School with an emphasis in natural resource law and wildlife management. He is a volunteer commissioner on the Lewis County Washington Water Conservancy Board.  He previously served as an Advisory Board Member to Oregon State University- Oregon Hatchery Research Center, He currently operates a solo practice law firm in Chehalis, Washington and is an Advisory Board member for NWFE. Chris is an avid fly and tackle fisherman and enjoys the outdoors.
Jeff Hudson:
Is the Production Manager for one of the most modern hatchery and Recirculating Aquaculture System /RAS facility in the U.S., Jeff manages IMG_3638 (5)a contained Salmonid broodstock hatchery and their genetics management, rearing fish from eggs to spawning for the highest quality of Steelhead, Coho and Atlantic Salmon eggs for distribution to commercial growers and stock enhancement hatcheries. A USDA disease free certified facility. He is extensively experienced and instructs in modern fish hatchery management techniques and RAS; managing broodstock, spawn & timing, superior egg fertilization and hatch timing, water temperature and hyper-oxygenation management, milt management and cryo-preservation, egg fertilization with frozen /cryopreserved milt and more. Jeff manages millions plus of salmonid egg annually.    He has advanced his career from technician to manager with O.J.T. to many hours of advanced & ongoing industry training . Jeff ships the highest quality  salmonid eggs to commercial growers and stock enhancement programs in the U.S. and Internationally. NWFE turns to Jeff often.



Richard V. “Dick” Haapala, P.E.   AB Dick Haapala    
Agricultural Engineer Education
B.S., Irrigation Science, University of California at Davis, 1965
Professional Registrations
Agricultural Engineer: California, No. 158, 1976
CH2M HILL Certified Project Manager: 1995


Distinguishing Qualifications
  • Experience on irrigation canal and pipeline evaluations, design, upgrades, and rehabilitation
  • Familiarity with automatic control systems for pump stations, diversion structures, and canals
  • Design, construction management, and commissioning of small hydroelectric facilities
  • Design and construction management of fish protective and rearing facilities
  • Design and construction management of emergency repairs to irrigation facilities
  • A senior agricultural engineer and project manager with CH2M HILL in Eastern Washington
Relevant Experience
Mr. Haapala is an agricultural engineer and project manager with more than 46 years of experience specializing in irrigation system operation, maintenance, design, repair, and rehabilitation. Prior to joining CH2M HILL, he served in active combat duty overseas with the US Army Corps of Engineers and as the District Engineer for a large irrigation district in northern California. With CH2M HILL, he has managed the evaluation, design, and construction management of several major irrigation water conveyance facilities, including master plan development, fish protective screens, diversion dams, pumping equipment, hydroelectric facilities, pipelines, and open canals in the US and overseas. Many of the projects have been associated with the rehabilitation or replacement of older structures. Additionally, Mr. Haapala brings expertise in automatic control systems for pump stations, diversion structures, and canals. Several projects have included land application of industrial wastewater. He has designed and managed the design and construction of emergency repairs to irrigation conveyance facilities.
Organizations: American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
Training: Health and Safety, Construction Safety Awareness, Confined Space Entry Supervisor.
Sunnyside Canal Improvement Project, Sunnyside Division Board of Control, Sunnyside, WA. Project Engineer/Construction Manager. Provided planning, design, and construction management services for three re-regulation reservoirs, 31 new canal control structures, and a complete SCADA control system for a 64-mile-long irrigation water delivery canal for the Sunnyside Division Board of Control. Provided design and review of check structures and reservoirs for the project. Coordinated the electrical and control systems requirements between the CH2M HILL team, subconsultants, and the owner. Performed construction management and construction observation duties. The work included extensive use of membrane reservoir liners and shotcrete concrete canal lining techniques.  Fee: $4,100,000
Rehabilitation Project, Yakima-Tieton Irrigation District, Yakima, WA. Project Engineer/Construction Manager. Served as a project engineer during the planning, design, and construction of the pressurized pipe system to replace a deteriorated open canal system that served irrigation water to the 27,000-acre district. The $72-million project includes 200 miles of pipelines, one regulating reservoir, six pump stations, two hydroelectric stations, and SCADA system. Managed the final construction and startup and testing of the two hydroelectric stations. Continues to support the District with improvements and maintenance. Currently working with the district to evaluate alternative methods to replace 12 miles of open conveyance flume with more reliable facilities.
Feasibility Design of the Walla Walla River Water Exchange Conveyance System, Milton-Freewater, OR. Project Engineer. Provided engineering support for the alignment, hydraulic sizing, and interface with existing water users in the Walla Walla River Basin. The project involved pumping 175 cubic feet per second (cfs) of irrigation water from the Columbia River approximately 32 miles via a 72-inch- diameter pipeline to the irrigated area near Walla Walla and Milton-Freewater.
Water Conservation Project, Selah-Moxee Irrigation District, Moxee, WA. Project Manager. Managed the funding application, feasibility study, design, permitting, and construction management of water conservation projects involving converting open canal irrigation systems to low pressure pipeline systems. A completed portion of the conservation work included installation of flexible membrane canal liner to reduce seepage and improve canal bank stability.  The project will eventually convert approximately 30 miles of open ditches into pipelines and lined canals.
Water Conservation Project, Union Gap Irrigation District, Wapato, WA. Project Manager. Managed preparation of a water conservation plan, design, and construction management of water conservation projects involving converting open canal irrigation systems to low pressure pipeline systems including at least one re-regulation reservoir. The project will eventually convert approximately 20 miles of open ditches into pipelines and membrane lined canals. Provides on-going support for operation and maintenance work.
Water Conservation Project, Kittitas Reclamation District, Ellensburg, WA. Project Manager. Managed the preparation of a water conservation plan, feasibility study, design, and services during construction for portions of the 47,000-acre irrigation district. The project includes canal and pipeline design; ongoing maintenance of Easton Diversion Dam, emergency canal repairs, and ongoing operations and maintenance support to the District. Work has included replacement and rehabilitation of existing concrete canal lining using shotcrete and urethane joint sealants. Fee: Ongoing at approximately $30,000 per year
Project Manager, Outlook Irrigation District Rehabilitation, Outlook Irrigation District, Outlook, Washington. Directed the study, design, and construction of new pipeline facilities to replace open canals. A project feasibility report including an environmental impact assessment and economic evaluation was prepared in support of federal and state funding. The project included replacement of the district’s 70-cfs pump station, installation of 5,000 feet of 48-inch-diameter pipeline, and construction of approximately 10 miles of low-pressure concrete pipelines. A similar project was completed for the Grandview Irrigation District.
Work in Foreign Countries. Managed and supported irrigation work in Egypt, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Canada, and Brazil.
Project Manager, Emergency Repair of Irrigation Facilities, Washington and California. Mobilized engineering staff and construction resources to quickly and cost effectively restore failed irrigation structures to service. Projects and clients have included:
  • Yakima-Tieton Irrigation District – Several concrete canal repairs
  • Naches Selah Irrigation District – Wood flume replacement with steel pipe
  • Methow Valley Irrigation District – Wood flume replacement with steel pipe
  • Wenatchee Reclamation District – Concrete lined canal repair
  • Oakdale Irrigation District – Concrete lined canal repair
  • Kittitas Reclamation District – Concrete lined canal repair
  • Cascade Irrigation District – Wood flume replacement with two pump stations


Ryan RodruckRyan Rodruck
Ryan Rodruck is the Owner and Principal Consultant at Columbia Public Affairs. Specializing in government, non-profit and public-sector communications and advocacy, Columbia Public Affairs builds and launches substantive communications and public affairs campaigns to help clients more meaningfully engage with their key audiences and stakeholders. Projects range from providing strategic communications advisory services; to guiding messaging and positioning; to tailoring traditional, digital, and social media solutions.
Ryan has previously worked as Director of Communications and Marketing for Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU) in Yakima, Washington. At PNWU, Ryan was responsible for a wide range of communications duties including presenting the University’s message to community and stakeholder groups, interacting with the press and media, and oversight of the University’s marketing department.
Prior to joining PNWU, Ryan was the General Manager of KYVE 47, Central Washington’s PBS affiliate. At KYVE, Ryan was responsible for overall station operations, production of local broadcasts, community outreach, and occasional on-air hosting duties.
Ryan has also served as a senior staff member to former U.S. Congressman Doc Hastings in Washington’s 4th District. Ryan worked on a wide range of issues directly affecting the residents of the Central Washington community and worked to advocate to the government on their behalf.
Prior to serving with the federal government, Ryan worked in the association management field as Assistant Director for three of the largest commercial real estate development associations in the Pacific Northwest. Ryan has also worked in the marketing field, helping to develop marketing and communications strategies for the real estate industry.
He has also served as staff to a member of the Washington State Legislature, developing electoral and constituent outreach strategy.
Ryan attended Central Washington University where he graduated with a degree in Political Science.