January, 12, 2011 -- Representatives of California Inland Fisheries Foundation, Inc. (CIFFI) recently made a presentation to Casa Grande High School students, involved in a salmon-raising project in Petaluma. They were given a tour of the fish hatchery by students Morisa Watland and Greg Gillis, who provided past history and an explanation of the steps salmon eggs take to reach maturity.

Several months ago, Mike Aughney, Board of Directors member of the High School made a presentation to CIFFI requesting assistance. The fish hatchery program, initiated in 1983 by Tom Furrer has had enormous success. Teacher Dan Hubacker, for the past 12 years has been the hatchery tech and teacher, conducting classroom, hands-on training for 15-20 students, all dedicated and responsible teenagers. They rescue stray salmon from the Petaluma River, collect and fertilize the eggs then raise the fish in the raceways through the following Spring. In May, they Wire-tag the fish, and take the smolts to the Tyee Club net pens in Tiburon, where the fish stay and grow until October, when they are released. Thousands of people attend this event, providing a great educational tool for the public. It’s a small but comprehensive hatchery, complete with a sophisticated water circulation system and this year, the students are maintaining approximately 25,000 hatched fish.

CIFFI’s donation provided waders and boots, used not only for collecting salmon, but also doing creek restoration and clean-up projects. The students are very dedicated and committed to their project, spending many additional hours above their normally scheduled class time. The program depends on fund raising, donations and volunteers. Over the years, many graduates of the class have gone into outdoors related careers, including marine biology and working for the Dept. of Fish and Game.

Rod & Sue Browning, Sep & Marilyn Hendrickson (CIFFI), Dr. Larry Eng (Ret. DFG biologist), Mike Aughney (Board of Directors Casa Grande) Joe Costarella (graduate of the program and B of D Casa Grande) were all involved in this presentation.

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