Sounds like you're putting in the leg work. Hopefully it'll bear fruit. Have you tried contacting Meg from the AA directly? She's fairly responsive, and would probably love to hear that you're beating the bushes.
I'm from Wisconsin and broke, so not likely to make it to a class
I don't know Walt, but I do know that in the US - at least on the mainland - there's a growing sense with many people that the aqua-shysters have taken over and all the information out their is dishonest self-promotion. I don't think that's the whole story, but there is some truth to it. He could be reacting to that sentiment.
My experience with fish farmers is that they're largely a salt-of-the-earth humble bunch who I often hear say things like "I've been growing fish for 30 years and still have a lot to learn." When they meet some aquaponic (or RAS) upstart saying something like "I've been doing aquaponics three years and now I'm an aquaponics engineer / guru and would you like some consulting?" they can be turned off.
All that's to say if I were you I'd try and take a humble approach, under-promise and over-deliver, and be patient for the first few years. If aquaponics proves commercially viable in the PNW folks will come round.
I'd love to meet you too someday.