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Sonoma County Gazette
Penngrove Station by Lyndi Brown

What’s Hatching at the PGrove Hatchery?

Aug 1, 2018
by Lyndi Brown


Inquiring minds want to know what the action is at Penngrove Hatchery, so I talked with Dr. Bonita Bergin, president and CEO of Bergin College / University of Canine Studies. The group purchased the Green Mill building, but until permits and details of that site are worked out, they reside at the Hatchery with 10 staff members and groups of students at different times.

Bergin University student trains a service dog.Bergin invented the concept of the Service Dog to assist people with mobility limitations in 1975. At that time, she founded Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), the first nonprofit to train and place Service Dogs.

After leaving CCI In 1991, Bergin founded the Assistance Dog Institute, which was formally designated a university in early 2004. Today, the growing Bergin University of Canine Studies is the only university dedicated to teaching service dog trainers in the world.

The unique organization brings dogs into an academic area of study. It is accredited by the U.S Department of Education as both a College and a University to grant Associate, Bachelors, and Masters degrees.

Students study to become dog trainers and/or teach others how to train. Fourteen seminar students were in a 7-week seminar this summer. They trained a litter of puppies, worked with three mock clients, and did matching and placement of dogs. Puppies are at the site during the day, and with their foster families on weekends and nights. A graduation ceremony was held July 21.

In August, the bustle begins again, when Bergin welcomes groups of students into three programs: 10 in Associate, 20 in Bachelors and 15 in Masters.

Bergin is also president and CEO of a nationwide Paws for Purple Hearts (see The distinguished Dr. Bergin has been honored with numerous awards including the prestigious Presidential Points of Light Award; Oprah Winfrey’s “Use Your Life Award”.

Fishman Runs for 2nd Term on SRJC Board

I’m glad to see that my neighbor, Maggie (Margaret) Fishman, will run for a second term on the SRJC Board of Trustees. She joined the Board in 2014 and quickly evolved into a leader. She is serving her second term as Chair of the Board. The retired educator and long time Penngrove resident represents District 2 (Petaluma, Penngrove, the Lakeville corridor, south-western Sonoma county and a small portion of Marin County). Maggie has been involved in assessing the student housing crisis and working towards a solution. She has been active in planning and executing SRJC’s capital improvement programs funded by Measure H—the $410 million bond act approved by the voters in 2014.

120th Anniversary Celebration

Penngrove Community Churchcelebrates a big milestone on Sunday, August 19th from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm at Penngrove Park. An outdoor church service at 10:30 am is followed by a free chicken BBQ at 12:30 pm. The event harkens back to the origins of the church in 1897 when the Thompson Brothers came to Penngrove to hold revival meetings in a tent. Imagine that outdoor gathering, more than 120 years ago. The church was built in 1898 and is in need of new paint and structural support. Donations for building maintenance will be accepted at this event. Free tickets for BBQ must be ordered in advance. Call 795-5919 to reserve or go to Brown Paper tickets and search Penngrove Community Church.

New Postmaster in Town

It’s official. Penngrove has a new Postmaster, Astrid Shishkin Hill. She’s a familiar presence at our P.O. for the last 5 yrs. And has served on and off as Officer In Charge 2.5 years. She’ll will be sworn in as Postmaster in mid-August. Astrid is super knowledgeable about the kooky ins and outs of delivery in our area, so take your questions to her. Our P.O. serves some 1,370+ patrons, including more than 300 box holders. of the 500 total boxes. She’s a single mom of a 19-year old son and lives in the outskirts of Petaluma.

Italian Conversation

Drop in on small private Italian conversation and lesson groups on Thursday evenings hosted by SRJC instructor Nancy Chien-Eriksen at her home near Corona and Ely roads. Choose from intermediate or advanced groups. It’s a fun way to stimulate the brain cells! Molto divertente in a safe, intimate home environment. “We laugh a lot,” said Nancy. For info, contact


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