Since then, the United Anglers have dealt with and overcome many challenges to create an internationally recognized student-run fish hatchery, the only one of its kind in the country.
"We are the model for student-run fish hatcheries in the country," said interim hatchery director Dan Hubacker. "What we do here is being studied in Japan. We were contacted by high schools in Nagasaki and Hiroshima a few years ago and now we are talked about in their textbooks."
The United Anglers program and fish hatchery evolved from just a greenhouse in the 1980s to a state-of-the-art fish hatchery, which opened in 1993 thanks to students who raised more than $500,000 to build it.
"We are a completely self-sustaining project," said Hubacker. "It's a successful program and it's fascinating when you look at education right now and see all the cutbacks being made, while here you have this program that costs $50,000 a year to operate. The students raise that money every year."
The United Anglers program receives all of its funding through personal donations, grants and its annual dinner fund-raiser, to be held Saturday, Nov. 6 at the Petaluma Community Center.
"The dinner is our main fund-raiser," said Hubacker. "It has been much more of a challenge raising funds in the past few years. Students have been going every day of the week to businesses, and many of them have stepped in to do what they can, but we are being turned down by many businesses right now because money is tight."
The United Anglers' program focuses on three fish: steelhead trout, rainbow trout and Chinook salmon.
"The steelhead trout are not raised in the building," said Hubacker. "Our focus with them is monitoring their health in Adobe Creek, which is across the street from the high school. Through the students' efforts, we continue monitoring the health and strength of that run of fish."
The students also raise a couple hundred rainbow trout each year as part of learning about the fish and helping the trout population. The trout are eventually released.
During the fall, students turn their attention to the fall run of Chinook salmon.