A film about a high-school saving salmon

An Important Fishy Tale in Petaluma, California.


A century ago, the largest run of salmon on the Pacific Coast south of Alaska was in California’s Sacramento River, which runs through San Francisco Bay,. That original run was over a million fish a year. These days, its lucky to be over 100,000. According to a recent study, many species of salmon and steelhead trout could all but vanish from California within a hundred years due to the loss of habitat. One antidote to this problem comes from Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, CA, where high school students are trained to conserve salmon and steelhead by growing fish in their own state-of-the-art hatchery that raises 20,000-40,000 salmon or steelhead a year. http://uacg.org/  The hatchery was built by local people over  a number of years. This program has become so successful that state and federal agencies are using the UACG  kids to help, and the classes have recently been accepted for admission as lab sciences for the University of California system. There currently are 70 kids in the program. They run the hatchery, teach kids in lower grades about fish by helping them raise fish in classroom aquariums, and working with National Marine Fisheries to help restore salmon and steelhead runs in several local streams.

This proposal is for a 56-minute documentary film telling the story of Casa Grande High’s unique and highly-successful hatchery program narrated by a well-known celebrity conservationist.

The film will be shown on San Francisco PBS affiliate KQED, and distributed nation-wide.  It will inspire schools across the country to engage their students in hands-on environmental education, which has been proven to be the most effective way to develop an ecological conscience.  There are already many schools raising fish in aquariums in classrooms, but as far as we know, United Anglers of Casa Grande is the only high school in North America that runs a state of the art fish hatchery.


United Anglers of Casa Grande asked us to produce this film. We agreed to and KQED said they wanted to air it but could not fund production.  Just as we were about to begin to seek funding, fires broke out in Sonoma and Napa Counties of the North Bay. The school and hatchery were not touched, but many homes and businesses in that area were destroyed. Then, this year, more fires broke out in northern California.  Hence, the need to look for funding beyond northern California.

 Normally, PBS hour-long documentaries start at about $400,000 and can go upwards of a million dollars. We will produce this documentary for $150,000, thanks to some people volunteering their time and skills. 

If you’d like to help the whole country know about the United Anglers of Casa Grande program, and inspire schools across the continent to create environmental education programs that create tangible positive results, please donate. Donors will get rewards:  ($100 donors get a free UACG hat; $150 receives a free UACG T-shirt; and $200 will get a UACG sweat shirt. (Please include sizes and address and where to send.)


Who are the producers of this documentary? UACG has asked James Swan and his son, Andrew, to produce this documentary.  James is one of the founders of the field of environmental education and has been producing award-winning documentaries since the 1970’s. He and Andrew began to produce 20 years ago. More about the Swans at: http://jamesswan.com/snowgoose/index.html   One example of their work: In 2007-2009, at the request of the California Fish and Game Wardens Association, James and Andrew spent two years in the air, land and water riding along with game wardens, producing a documentary about California’s game warden shortage. The documentary  became an inspiration for the “Wild Justice” TV show on the National Geographic Channel that ran from 2010 to 2013. James was a Co-Exec. Producer of “Wild Justice” and Andrew was a cameraman. As a result of their documentary and “Wild Justice, ” the number of game wardens in California has increased from 192 to 360.


  • Joan Sample 
    • $40 
    • 11 mos
  • Mary Susan Anghinetti 
    • $25 
    • 12 mos


James Swan 
Rio Rancho, NM
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