Producer & Executive PNWCA Board of Directors

One of the first major tasks after the PNWCA received a Certificate of Incorporation was finding an executive director and up to 10 producers from ID, MT, OR, and WA who are passionate about this industry and committed to seeing the organization succeed. It didn't take long to fill the slate!  We are thankful for those on the inaugural board who wanted to be part of the vision and mission of the PNWCA, and all who have served as directors and officers. 

Read about our current PNWCA Board of Directors and you'll see that it's quite evident they are all a perfect fit for the task at hand.

20210630_Karen in Kopf canola

Karen Sowers, Executive Director

Tucson, AZ

I grew up near Manhattan, Kansas, graduating from Kansas State University with a degree in Agronomy, followed by a M.S. in Soil Science from Washington State University. My husband, Brett, and I have two wonderful children (Megan and Colton) and two grandchildren. I was an Extension and Outreach Specialist with the WSU Oilseed Cropping Systems Project until 2019, when we moved to Tucson, AZ.  The idea of getting a canola association reestablished in the PNW gained traction in 2016, and that became reality when the PNWCA was incorporated in July 2017. I initially served as interim executive director, becoming executive director in 2019. After 17 years of working alongside farmers, the ag industry, government agencies, and university colleagues throughout the PNW who are involved with canola production, it is clear to me that the canola industry is here to stay in the PNW. I am grateful for our amazing board of directors, and for the opportunity to lead the PNWCA and continue to grow the industry in the 4-state region.


Chris Riggers, Nezperce ID 
Producer Director

Chris Riggers


I grew up on the Camas Prairie in North Central Idaho where I recently joined our family farming operation as a partner with my father. Our farm has a history of raising a diverse rotation of crops, of which Canola has been a staple for many years. We are excited to see and participate in the growth of canola production in the Pacific Northwest in recent years and look forward to exchanging knowledge and expertise with many other excellent canola producers in the region!

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Joel Wasem, President


I'm a 5th generation farmer in Cottonwood. My wife, Jordan, and I are raising our three children on the original homestead from 1890 and hope one day that one of them will farm as well. Previously I worked for CHS Primeland for 11 years in various roles, last of which was Group Location Manager. In this role I gained a great deal of insight and knowledge about canola production in the PNW and formed a passion for learning everything about canola, advancing the farming practices around it, and being able to educate other growers. Currently, my dad and I farm together growing winter canola, winter wheat, and a varying spring crop. Dad started no-till farming over 20 years ago and I hope to expand on those practices utilizing new precision technology, tillage, and seeding techniques. I look forward to sharing my experiences and learning from the other members of the PNWCA. Together, we can grow the organization and expand its impact on the canola industry. 


Dale Flikkema (board of directors)

Dale Flikkema


I farm outside of Bozeman with my wife Nancy and daughters Samantha and Sophia. I'm the fourth generation on our family farm with plans of passing it on to the fifth. We run a cow-calf operation and raise a vast variety of crops, including alfalfa, barley, canola, corn, peas, sunflowers, and wheat. By being on the PNW Canola Association board, I plan to be involved with growing the industry and continuing to help it improve.

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Casey Nickol


I grew up on the family farm near Ledger, MT. I am currently the fourth generation to farm our original homestead alongside my Dad. We grow winter wheat, spring wheat, barley, lentils, and canola. Canola has been a mainstay in our rotation for 7 year to improve weed control, improve soil quality, and to diversify our marketing. I went to Montana State University in Bozeman and returned full time to the farm in 2015. I also work in the agronomy division at Ben Taylor Inc in Shelby where I work with local farmers to help them bring more profitability to their operations within their chemical and seed decisions. Being on the PNWCA board is a great opportunity to grow the production and marketability of canola. 

producer board member Mike Bekker from Scobey, MT

Mike Bekker


I live on the family farm outside of Scobey, Montana with my wife Kristin. We grow spring wheat, durum, peas, lentils, flax, canola, mustard and alfalfa. We include an oilseed, mostly canola, to spread our rotation to three years. I can see the agronomic benefits of stretching rotations and spreading risk by including oilseeds. The PNW Canola Association can help grow the canola industry and educate farmers on the benefits of including canola in their rotations.


David Brewer

David Brewer

The Dalles

With my wife Margaret, we are the fifth generation to operate the family farm in the rolling hills of north central Oregon.  We have diversified our no-till cropping system with the addition of winter canola, sunflowers, spring cereals and grass finished beef in a traditional winter wheat/fallow area.  Winter canola, while a challenge some years to establish in an 11-12” rainfall zone, has been a great addition to the rotation for what it brings in the way of weed control options, market diversity, wildlife habitat, and especially disease suppression and soil health benefits.  The best wheat we grow every year is that following a canola crop.  I am happy to represent Oregon and support the Association in helping growers realize the potential of this crop in the PNW. 


Ben Maney


I'm a fifth-generation dryland wheat farmer north of Helix in South Juniper, Oregon. Our primary crop rotation is summer fallow winter wheat, and more recently we've added spring canola to the rotation. My family also runs a small cow-calf operation. I recently represented Oregon and the PNW as President of the Oregon Wheat Growers Association in 2022. I graduated from Helix High School in 1997 and received a B.S. from Oregon State University in Agri-Business in 2001. In my spare time I volunteer as a director for the Happy Canyon Association and as Secretary and Treasurer of the board. My wife Julie is from Walla Walla and teaches in the Athena School District. We have been married for 17 years.  Our son, Rhett is 2 years old and ready to drive tractor now. I'm extremely excited to represent canola in the PNW - it is a true first option for dryland wheat and is a great addition to improve soil quality and management to every farm operation.



Braidy Haden


I farm with my wife, Amy, and our two children Tate and Macy.  I am a graduate of Washington AgForestry Leadership (class 39).  In 2016 my wife and I established BA Farms.  Our farm was primarily winter wheat up until 2018 when we planted our first winter canola crop.  Canola has remained in our rotation as it has proven to provide many benefits to our farm.  I am excited to have the opportunity to be part of the PNWCA and look forward to being involved with such a growing industry.   

Heidi Kopf, Second Vice-President


My husband Keith and I farm near Pullman, Washington and Moscow, ID, and raise winter wheat, legumes, spring barley, and spring canola.  We modified our rotation to include spring canola in 2014 as a way to tackle herbicide-resistant Italian ryegrass that is a major problem in all of our crops. We see improvement in the soil health where canola is grown, resulting in at least a 10% yield increase in winter wheat yield following canola versus following legumes.  We will continue growing canola for weed control, soil health benefits., and the ability to deliver to the local crushing facility in Warden, WA. We joined the PNWCA when it first started and I now serve on the board because education and research about canola production is important to me - we have so much more to learn about a crop that is still relatively 'new' to the PNW. 

Brendan Sherry, Walla Walla
Producer Director

Brendan Sherry, Vice-President

Walla Walla

I raise canola on our family farm along side my wife, parents, and sister in Walla Walla, Washington. After graduating from Boise State University in 2010, I returned to the farm where we have increased our focus on crop rotation. Canola has been a great tool for dealing with the problems that arise from farming in an area where a wheat-fallow rotation is standard practice. My hope is that the association will continue to provide valuable resources for canola growers while attracting new growers to this under utilized crop.