Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Whitney Cohen on Garden Based Education

Examining school garden support organizations to promote natural world learning.

Whitney is a teacher, trainer, and author with tremendous commitment to, and expertise in, inquiry- and place-based education; strategies for engaging diverse learners; school gardens; and the intersection between environmental education and public schools. She is the Education Director of Life Lab and a lecturer at UC Santa Cruz.

In This Podcast:  Greg is excited and a bit envious of the kids who have participated in the natural world learning experiences explained by the Whitney in this podcast. She paints a beautiful picture of the resources of Life Lab’s gardens and how the programs offer many unique and awesome natural world laboratories for kids to learn. Their discussion ventures into the world of school funding and how garden based education can fill multiple needs of the schools, yet seems to on budget cutting blocks often. Life Lab has developed a potential resource for school interested in keeping a natural world option in their curriculums and Whitney explains how they hope to share this program nationally.

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Listen in to Learn About:

  • How she started working with kids in the Redwood forest in Calif with Life Lab
  • How she was taking kids out to learn in the natural world for a week at a time as a young adult
  • Going back to school to get her degree in education and taking a class with the founder of Life Lab
  • Becoming a science teacher and teaching earth and life science through natural world lessons
  • Visiting her friend at the farm at UC Santa Cruz and deciding she wanted to work somewhere just as beautiful
  • The mission and program of Life Lab that teaches kids and shares resources with UC Santa Cruz
  • A description of The UCSC Farm and the space of the Garden Classroom of Life Lab
  • The ZOO Bed – a garden with plants that have animal names, and other
  • Nutrient cycling – and the definition that they use to teach kids about composting
  • The hands on learning that kids can do from growing, to harvesting, to preparing, to eating the foods on the farm
  • A story of the boy Marco who was truly touched by the visit on the farm enough to speak in school for the first time since moving to the area
  • How the gardens are living laboratories and are examples of what science education is leading towards
  • Social Emotional Learning
  • The challenge of finding an infrastructure to help implement a program to have garden based education programs
  • The struggles of planning education with the cuts in the education budgets across the countries
  • School Garden Support Organizations that support multiple school gardens across their regions
  • The need for documenting and sharing garden based education models
  • The 1st Annual School Garden Support Organization Institute – A program that came about after partnering with the Whole Kids Foundation which does professional training and allows educators from across the country to share, connect and develop a program for a national garden based education

As well as:

  • Her biggest success is how the garden based education programs are having such a social emotional impact on kids
  • And how that impact to teach kids they are valuable drives her to continue
  • Her advice to listeners is to “Dream Real Big, and Start Small”

 

Book written by Whitney:

FoodCorps Sprout Scouts Leaders Handbook  in partnership with Kendal Chavez, Erica Curry, and Cecily Upton.

The Growing Classroom: Garden-Based Science and Nutrition Activity Guide: Fourth Edition by Roberta Jaffe and Gary Appel. (4th Edition updates)

The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids with John Fisher.

Teaching Gardens Program with Margo Crabtree and Amy Carlson

Kids’ Garden: 40 Fun Indoor and Outdoor Activities and Games  Recipient of the Parent’s Choice, National Parenting Publications, and Independent Publisher Book Awards

Whitney’s Recommended Books:

The pedagogy of the oppressed by Paulo Freire

How Children Succeed by Paul Tuft

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1 month ago

Readers To Eaters

Time for Summer Gardening! Thrilled to partner on @big green’s #ReadAsYouGrow, "connecting the stories and ideas that they are exploring in these fantastic books to what they can observe while growing food in their garden," with Readers To Eaters books in English & Spanish. See video on prgrm+ resource bit.ly/3JLxGMe ..#SummerGardening #SummerLearning #SummerReading #KidsGardening #OutdoorEducation National Summer Learning AssociationNational Environmental Education Foundation – NEEFNational Farm to School Network Common ThreadsNational Agriculture in the Classroom Life Lab

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1 month ago

Readers To Eaters

Love this new review on Sandor Katz and the Tiny Wild from Shelf Awareness! bit.ly/3bG3czi "Martin and Lee incorporate quotes from Katz throughout their energetic, onomatopoeic text… Julie Wilson’s casual, enthusiastic, earth-toned illustrations suit the subject and Katz’s effervescent personality. The entertainment value here is rivaled by expansive backmatter including an afterword by Katz addressing readers, a visual guide to kraut-making, long author and illustrator notes (including ethnographic research) and additional resources.A fizzy and informative celebration of fermentation that enthusiastically supports curious experimentation and food literacy."..#FoodLiteracy #FoodEducation #FoodHeroes #FoodBiography #FoodWriter #Fermentor #Fermentation #NoHeatCooking #TinyWild #Microbes #FoodScience #STEM #LGBTQ #Queer #QueerCommunity #SummerReading #SummerLearning #SummerCooking #SummerGardening #KidsGardening American Farm Bureau Foundation for AgricultureNational Farm to School Network Tennessee Library Association Tennessee Agriculture in the ClassroomSlow Food Middle TennesseeJunior Master Gardener Program The American Horticultural Society Big Green Life LabChelsea Green Publishing

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2 months ago

Philip Lee

So excitd about #MDSNAPEd #EatYourWords kickoff Thur! Check out video on summer program connecting #NutritionEducation & #EarlyLiteracy, giving away 50,000 Sylvia’s Spinach at schools and #FarmersMarkets. Event info+ kickoff w author Katherine Pryor+ resources @ extension.umd.edu/eat-your-words..#SNAPEd #EarlyLiteracy #FoodLiteracy #FoodEducation #Nutrition #NutritionEducation #EatingFresh #EatingVegetables #KidsGardneing #SchoolGarden #FarmToSchoolSlow Food USA School Garden NetworkBig Green Common Threads Pilot Light Life Lab

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#tbt to that time two weeks ago we were at the School Garden Support Organization – SGSO – Network conference organized by Sprouts Farmers Market and Life Lab !Check out this cool recap video Jen put together – love how we’re #growingschoolgardens together!#veggiecatethefirststate #STEMeducation #handsonlearning #schoolgardens #kidswhogarden

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3 months ago

Life Lab

www.lifelab.org/jobs Full-time Bilingual Garden Educators at PVUSD School Gardens and Summer Program Staff at Garden Classroom on UCSC Farm

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3 months ago

Life Lab

Full-time Career and Summer Staff Positions in @pajarovalleyusd school gardens and the Life Lab Garden Classroom. On the @ucscagroecology farm @ucsc @pvusdschoolfood lifeLab.org/jobs

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3 months ago

Readers To Eaters

Thrilled that The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter is NC Farm Bureau "Ag in the Classroom" #BookOfTheMonth! Check out their terrific Activity Guide, including a few fun facts:• The honeybee is the state insect for North Carolina and 15 other states? • In North Carolina, bees help to pollinate strawberries, apples, and broccoli to name a few.bit.ly/3tE6nLASee this reading of author/illustrator Shabazz Larkin for PBS/ Thirteen WNET New York. bit.ly/32LQ0S0Good sharing for United Nations #WorldBeeDay on 5/20 and June #NationalPollinatorsMonth. ..#AgClassroom #AgLiteracy #AITC #FarmToSchool #Bees #Pollinators #Pollination #FoodLiteracy #FoodEducation #DiverseBooks National Agriculture in the ClassroomAmerican Farm Bureau Foundation for AgricultureNCLA: North Carolina Library AssociationNC School Library Media AssociationState Library of North CarolinaASAP – Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture ProjectNational Farm to School Network The Bee Cause Project The Pollinator Partnership North Carolina State Beekeepers AssociationNC Beekeepers Forsyth County Beekeepers Association of N.C.Whole Kids Foundation Big Green FoodCorps Life LabThe Black Church Food Security Network The Brown Bookshelf Multicultural Children’s Book Day We Need Diverse Books

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Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom
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