Advisory Board

Fisheries Enhancement Specialists, Planning, Volunteer Services, Engineering, Fish Culture, Fish Genetics, Hatchery mangement, 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.
Megan Sorby, MS, Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Scotland U.K. Tom Sorby, MS, Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Scotland U.K.
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, www.trueblueaqua.com

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 a rarity in fisheries, a lawyer with a field background of actually working in the field/ rivers, streams, hatcheries, research and with a working knowledge of fisheries, is an avid fly and tackle fisherman and enjoys the outdoors.

Jeff Hudson:

Hatchery International Top 10 Under 40 winners revealed- Jeff Hudson announced as a Top Ten winner -After evaluating an outstanding line-up of nominees from the across the world, the editorial team at Hatchery International is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Top 10 Under 40 – see https://www.hatcheryinternational.com/hatchery-international-top-10-under-40-winners-revealed/

Jeff 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.

Dr. Jesse Trushenski PhD

undefinedDr. Jesse Trushenski is a fisheries scientist with specific interests in fish culture and conservation.  Her career path has included prominent appointments in academia (tenured Associate Professor at Southern Illinois University), the public sector (Fish Pathologist Supervisor for Idaho Department of Fish and Game), and private industry (Director of Science for Riverence Holdings).  Whether it’s fish nutrition, physiology, or health, Jesse has always been driven by the practical applications of science, going from data to information and information to action.  Jesse has also fulfilled numerous leadership roles within the fisheries and aquaculture communities.  She has chaired or served on multiple advisory panels and other committees addressing aquaculture research, regulation, and policy on a national scale, and is the immediate Past-President of the American Fisheries Society. 

Jesse is a leader in the fisheries science world, NWFE turns to her often for guidance whether for hatchery or wild fish projects.

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
CH2MHILL logo
CH2M HILL /Jacobs Engineering Certified Project Manager: 1995

NWFE turns to Dick on Water and Water management issues, he also brings the resources of the CH2M Hill/ Jacobs engineering group.

  • 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 /Jacobs in Eastern Washington
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, Design and construction management of fish protective and rearing facilities, . 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/ Jacobs, he has managed the evaluation, design, and construction management of several major irrigation water conveyance facilities, including master plan development, fish protective screens, fish rearing facilities, 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.
Project Manager, Washington and California, South America. Mobilized engineering staff and construction resources to quickly and cost effectively restore failed irrigation structures to service.
https://www.ch2m.com http://www.jacobs.com

Jim, -planting Cooke raised Triploid Rainbows into Riffe Lake for NWFE and recreational fisherman!

Jim Parsons

His background in aquaculture research dates back to 1978 in research fish genetics, research and development. His work in Aquaculture, Stock Enhancement and Commercial aquaculture is extensive. Jim is a leader in Fish Genetics and Aquaculture communities.

He serves on national and regional committees and associations;

NOAA MAFAC -Marine Aquaculture Committee member- advising the US Secretary of Commerce and NOAA on marine resource matters, USDA’s National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics Board; Industry Advisory Council for the Western Regional Aquaculture Center. USDA’s Subcommittee on Aquatic Animal Health.

NAA -National Aquaculture Association past President and board member; US Trout Growers Association, Northwest Aquaculture Alliance board member.

Jim is developing Tribal Aquaculture programs -Washington state’s Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to farm sablefish (black cod) and sterile triploid, all-female rainbow trout and working with tribal and (NOAA’s) Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Manchester Research Laboratory and the University of Washington on black cod aquaculture research.

Jim is the General Manager for Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, he has worked with many state and federal agencies, His background in aquaculture research dates back to 1978 in research genetics and research and development at numerous companies, including Trout Lodge, Weyerhaeuser, Clear Springs Foods, Pisces Investments, and Blue Lakes Trout Farms and now as NWFE Advisory Board member.

Jim is an avid outdoors-man and Fisherman when not raising, advising or managing fish.

Humbolt State BS; Fisheries Science. Washington State University MSc; Fish Genetics.

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.