Meet the Team
The general advisors of the Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors combine skills in coordination with general knowledge in science and agriculture to get relevant and practical information to producers. Based on your needs, a KBFA general advisor may connect you to an expert advisor.
Rachael Roussin, MLWS, A.Ag.
Program Coordinator and General Advisor
Rachael has a Masters’ degree in Land and Water Systems from the faculty of Land and Food at UBC and brings over ten years of experience with program coordination. Her technical background includes soil science, soil capability for agriculture, watershed management and climate change impacts and opportunities for agriculture. Rachael is an Environmental Farm Plan Advisor for BC, an educator on soil health & agricultural land, has operated a market garden, managed her local farmers’ market for over four years, and sits on several food and agriculture boards and committees.
Andrew Bennett, MSc, PAg, CID
Program Development and General Advisor
Andrew combines his technical background in agroecology with practical experience as the owner of a small mixed farm since 2011, direct-marketing meat, eggs, and vegetables in Rossland. Off-farm, he works as a writer, editor, and educator. His recent work includes compiling and editing the Salatin Semester manual (Acres USA, 2016). He also speaks at local food events, gives workshops on farm skills and design, is an Environmental Farm Plan Advisor for BC, and is a Certified Irrigation Designer with the Irrigation Industry Association of BC.
Email Andrew: [email protected]
Danny Smart, BSc
Danny is an environmental scientist who received an undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Management with a minor in First Nations Studies from the University of Northern British Columbia. For the past 5 years Danny has focused her work within the invasive plant management sector. She brings a wide range of experience in plant identification, data collection and analysis, project implementation and coordination, and developing large-scale management plans.
Email Danny: [email protected]
Mike has a lifetime of farming experience and has worked as a professional in agriculture since 1971, including 30 years for the Province of BC as a District Agriculturist and Regional Agrologist. Since 1979, Mike has co-owned and operated Fort Steele Farms near Cranbrook with his wife Sharon. His expertise includes forage crop production, beef cattle production, farm business management and economics, and rangeland management. Mike believes that farm profitability is an essential element for success in sustainable food systems.
Email Mike: [email protected]
Kylie Steedman, BCMM-PR
Kylie is a communications professional specializing in agriculture, tourism and marketing with a degree in public relations from Mount Royal University. Kylie specializes in content development, website management, copywriting, and digital communications.
Email Kylie: [email protected]
KBFA’s program advisors provide senior oversight and also work as farm advisors in certain regions and agricultural sectors.
Michael Keefer, MSc, PAg
President, Lead Visionary
Michael is a visionary leader with expertise in a broad range of fields that include plant ecology, ecological restoration, ethnoecology, the management of large and complex projects, communication, curriculum development, and others. A key theme in his career has been bridging knowledge sources and perspectives together to come up with positive solutions to complex environmental and social challenges. He is known widely as a top expert in the fields of ecological restoration, ethnoecology and native plant horticulture.
As an Adjunct Professor at Royal Roads University he helped to create the Growing Our Futures native plant horticulture training program, a curriculum designed for First Nations learners. Michael has the start-up of businesses that include: Keefer Ecological Services, Twin Sisters Native Plants Nursery, Tipi Mountain Native Plants and Tipi Mountain Eco-Cultural Services. As a volunteer, Michael was part of the start-up of the Columbia Basin Environmental Educators Network, led the growth of the Society of Ecological Restoration (SER) BC to being SER Western Canada when he was Chair, and has sat on a handful of other volunteer boards as a director.
Email Mike: [email protected]
Program Support Keefer Ecological Services
Jessica Lowley, MSc, PAg
Environmental Scientist, Project Manager
Jessica is an environmental scientist with an extensive background in environmental consulting. She completed her Bachelor of Science (honours) in 2012 with an undergraduate thesis in Soil Science and a certificate in Geomatics, and has since completed her Master of Science in Environmental Practice through Royal Roads University. Jessica received two awards for her Master’s research paper titled “Promoting Ecological Restoration of Degraded Mine Soils Using MSW Compost” which can be found here. Jessica is also the East Kootenay Regional Director for the Pacific Regional Society for Soil Science and is working to bring more soils courses to the area.
Previously, Jessica has worked in the oil and gas and forestry industries, performing a variety of environmental assessments and is well-versed in vegetation and soil identification and sampling, wildlife surveys, as well as construction monitoring. At KES, Jessica has been instrumental in managing and completing a number of projects including environmental management plans, socio-economic reports, feasibility studies, invasive plant management, recovery of the endangered whitebark pine, and soil and terrain mapping.
Mike Kuruz, BBA
Mike is a highly skilled business and administration coordinator with over five years’ experience working in financial and accounting environments. Mike completed his Bachelors of Business Administration at the University of Regina in 2008. From there he worked at Island Savings Credit Union, providing lending advice, operational support and accounting administration.
As an employee at KES, Mike coordinates and maintains the Occupational Health & Safety Plan; assists with purchasing, accounts payable and receivable, payroll and communications; and provides human resources support. Mike has been a member of an Occupational Health and Safety committee for over four years. He has maintained the highest level of performance standards within a diverse range of occupations. His education and experiences make him a uniquely qualified individual.
KBFA relies upon a large and expanding network of industry specialists to offer our producers the best available information. Expert advisors include university professors, government researchers, provincial agrologists, successful and experienced farmers and ranchers, and independent consultants.
Advisors and services will be added as the needs of sectors and geographic areas are identified, and as relationships are formed.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What services can the Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors provide my farm?
Farmers and producers in the Kootenay – Boundary region are able to access free services from KBFA including technical (pest management, soil management, land access), coordination services (farm status applications, farm planning, research), and educational services (field days, webinars, workshops).
What regions do the Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors serve?
KBFA works with farmers and producers in the Kootenay – Boundary region within the Regional Districts of Kootenay Boundary, East Kootenay, and Central Kootenay.
Where can I find resources for my farm?
Find an ever-growing list of resources for farmers in the Kootenays here.
How can my farm participate?
Please reach out to us! We will start by connecting with you to understand your farm and any resources.