Meet Our Staff

Darrell Petras, P.Ag.


Darrell Petras embodies the maxim that, “You can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.” Growing up in Viking, Alberta, he was surrounded by agriculture, including the Petras family beef operation. Despite that immersion, including joining the family farm and helping take it through a full business exit, he chose then-Red Deer College’s pre-chiropractic program. It didn’t stick, and he soon transferred to the University of Alberta, majoring in Agriculture Sciences with a specialization in Economics—the perfect mix for a young guy with a hankering for ag, an interest in technology, and a penchant for business.

His early career set him up for long-term success as he came under the influence of exceptional professionals who mentored him in the world of entrepreneurship and steeped him in the processes and rigour required to build a technology company from the ground up while protecting and benefiting from its core intellectual property:

Ideation to Lab to Minimally Viable Product to Startup to Market (all while focused on the customer)

Not satisfied to sit on the sidelines and only watch others benefit from his guidance, Darrell has walked the talk, co-launching or purchasing successful enterprises himself over the years.

His experience in, and passion for, business and agriculture make him an ideal CEO for CAAIN with its focus on supporting the development of Canadian agtech and encouraging the growth of SMEs that are the lifeblood of our nation’s economy. Because of his background, Darrell believes he has a responsibility to help fast-track the adoption of the agri-food innovation needed to ensure food security domestically and internationally.

Darrell, his wife, and their three children call Sherwood Park home, but they are never far from his rural roots, and when they are not attending basketball games and martial arts tournaments, the family can be found hiking, horseback riding, and taking their quads for a spin.

Darrell can be reached at

Tracy Bowers

Executive Assistant

Tracy Bowers, our remarkably competent Executive Assistant, sees her position with CAAIN as a return to her roots (pardon the ag pun). After all, she’s an Edmonton-area farm girl who launched an eventual 30-year Government of Alberta (GOA) career with the department of Agriculture as a summer student. Her broad practical experience, which includes stints with the GOA’s Agricultural Research Institute, Livestock and Meat Agency, and the ministries responsible for Pensions and Children’s Services, has been bolstered by certifications in human resources, benefits, and project management.

A firm believer in the importance of family and work-life balance, late in her government tenure Tracy took a year off to travel the rodeo trail with her teenage daughter. Which brings us neatly back to her personal and professional agricultural background and the impetus of a decision to leave the GOA in favour of Team CAAIN—a move we wholeheartedly applaud. Tracy grew up on a farm, and she lives on one now with her husband of 20 years, a daughter, two stepsons, and a menagerie that includes 13 horses, four goats, three dogs, an alpaca, a cat, and her “baby” Taco, a 136-kilogram micro mini pig. What more proof of her love of agriculture do we need? Right? Right!

Tracy can be reached at

Garson Law, MSc

Program Manager

Garson Law has spent his entire adult life in a range of positions across the research continuum. His impressive portfolio includes diverse roles, ranging from graduate student to funding program administrator, with stops in between as academic researcher, industry funding partner, and project lead. Being active throughout the research spectrum has instilled in Garson a strong appreciation for, and deep understanding of, the needs and qualities of stakeholders along the innovation value chain, which makes him a valuable member of Team CAAIN. When not working, he enjoys exploring the great outdoors at home and abroad, as well as chasing balls, pucks, and curling stones.

Garson can be reached at

Patience Palmer, PhD

Program Manager

To say that Patience Palmer is highly qualified for her role of CAAIN Program Manager is to state the obvious. Born and raised in the West African nation of Ghana, the Edmonton resident boasts superb academic credentials, with master’s degrees in Animal and Food Science earned at universities in Sweden and Finland, respectively, as well as a PhD in Animal Science from the University of Alberta.

Dr. Palmer’s professional background is no less impressive, including early experience with Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority and the country’s Cocoa Board. While completing her doctorate, she joined the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as a Developmental Meat Inspector. When she finished her studies, she remained with CFIA, working at slaughter and processing plants in Lacombe and Edmonton. From there, she transitioned to CAAIN, which she sees as a natural progression, leveraging, as it does, her significant livestock project management experience, while keeping her involved in agricultural innovation and satisfying her passion for ensuring the efficiency, safety, and quality of our agri-food sector.

Away from the office, Patience prioritizes faith and family, volunteering as a Sunday school teacher and cooking for, and spending time with, her husband and their two daughters.

Patience can be reached at

Julie Thibeault, BBA

Finance Manager

Julie’s 25 years of public- and private-sector experience in all things finance and accounting make her the perfect person to develop, implement, and maintain CAAIN’s financial management tools, functions, and procedures. Her duties require that she work closely with the members of our funded projects to ensure their compliance with Government of Canada fiscal reporting requirements. Julie holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Corporate Finance. Fluently bilingual, she moved to Alberta from Quebec 15 years ago.
Julie can be reached at

Eric Morin, CMP

Communications & Marketing Manager

Fluently bilingual and a Certified Communications Management Professional, Eric has spent the bulk of his 30-year career working in and for not-for-profit and public-sector organisations. A generalist skilled in project planning and management, writing and editing, public and media relations, crisis communications, and stakeholder engagement, he believes passionately in the intrinsic value of his profession. When not communicating at work, he enjoys doing so at home with his wife, Kathy, their two teenagers, and the family’s beloved Rottweiler-Coonhound cross, Dexter.

Eric can be reached at

Ryan Furtas

Business Partner, Knowledge & Networks

There are four reasons why Ryan Furtas is perfectly suited to be CAAIN’s Business Partner, Knowledge & Networks. First, he grew up helping his parents on the family’s mixed grain and cattle farm in east-central Alberta, so agriculture is in his blood. Second, he has a BSc in Agriculture Economics, which is pretty much self-explanatory. Third, the bulk of his career has been spent marketing and selling Alberta crops and dealing with primary producers in the Calgary and Edmonton regions, so he gets the issues of importance to the agricultural sector. And last but not least, in addition to being highly competent, he’s a really nice guy, which makes him ideally suited to build our network and grow our brand with a diverse range of stakeholders. Don’t believe us? Just ask the friends of his adolescent kids whom he coaches in minor hockey and baseball. Better yet, send him an e-mail and set up a meeting, and you’ll realize what the rest of his team members do: that we’re lucky to have him, and that he really is the perfect person for the job.

Ryan can be reached at