Don joined Life Lab in 2011 as associate director, working on finance, development, planning, and staff and board support. He served as co-director with Gail Harlamoff beginning in January 2012 and assumed the role of executive director in July 2012, when Gail left the staff and joined the board of directors. Since 2019 Don has been thrilled to partner with Judit Camacho to co-lead Life Lab’s team together with greater capacity, complementary perspectives and life experiences, and a shared vision for expanding Life Lab’s positive impacts in the world. Previously, Don served as development director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation, the leading national organic farming grantmaking and advocacy organization in the U.S. Prior to a decade with OFRF, Don worked for three seasons as an apprentice and then staff of the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, where Life Lab is located. In the 1990s, Don was a leader in urban agriculture and community food security programs, working in low-income communities across Los Angeles, co-founding the LA Community Garden Council and the LA School Greening Partnership, and co-chairing the Urban Agriculture Committee of the national Community Food Security Coalition. Don earned a BA in Geography/Ecosystems from UCLA, is a certified Master Gardener and Ecological Horticulturist, and completed the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at Stanford University. Read more about Don.
I am thrilled to be part of Life Lab’s extraordinary team and 40-year mission.
My experience with nonprofits extends over 20 years. I served two terms as the Executive Director for SACNAS- Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americas in Science whose mission is to diversify science nationwide. In between these times, I was invited to work at the National Institutes of Health to develop research programs for underrepresented communities. And most recently, I supported nonprofits in Mexico, Colombia and the US with strategic planning and fund development.
I hold an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of California Santa Cruz, graduate coursework in Public Health from Johns Hopkins and a master degree in Ontological Coaching from the Universidad San Sebastian in Santiago, Chile.
I look forward to deepening Life Lab’s roots in Santa Cruz County while cultivating a stronger network across the country. It will be a pleasure to meet each of you to expand the limits of education through the wonder of the garden classroom.
John came to Life Lab in 2000 with years of experience as an environmental educator in places such as Hidden Villa and in Honduras as a Peace Corps Volunteer. After a couple of years working at UCSC CASFS as Outreach Coordinator, creating a summer camp program, and expanding fieldtrips John came to Life Lab. With Life Lab he built and maintained the Garden Classroom and developed programming for children and UCSC interns. Currently John is focused on sharing the innovative work of Life Lab through communications, educator professional development, and networking across the state and nation. John attended UC San Diego and has a BA in Biological Anthropology. At home John tends a small flock of hens, a mini orchard, and a cut flower/vegetable garden with his wife and son. Read more about John.
Whitney Cohen is a teacher, trainer, and author with tremendous commitment to, and expertise in, place-based education; student-led inquiry; strategies for engaging a diverse student population; school gardens; and the intersection between environmental education, Common Core and Next Generation academic content standards, and the public school system. As the Education Director at Life Lab, Whitney leads educator workshops nationwide and has written and contributed to various activity guides, including The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids, The Growing Classroom, and The Soil Story Curriculum. Whitney is also a lecturer at UC Santa Cruz where she teaches a course on environmental education. Whitney received her MA in Education from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2002 and her BA in Sustainable Community Development from Vassar College in 1999. Prior to working with Life Lab, Whitney taught Earth, Life, and Physical Science and Introductory Spanish for five years in a low income, public middle school. At this school, Whitney worked with the local community to create a school garden and a watershed adoption project. In addition to classroom teaching, Whitney has worked in environmental education and public health in California, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Read more about Whitney.
Sara comes to Life Lab after working as a public school science teacher, science instructional coach and science education researcher for the past 14 years. Sara brings expertise in implementing and facilitating NGSS-aligned lessons for diverse learners in the classroom and other informal spaces and strongly believes in making science accessible to everyone. Her passion for children and the outdoors started as a child attending summer camp on a lake in northern Michigan and led her to a teaching career in Denver, Colorado where she worked with a variety of students using educational programs such as Expeditionary Learning, Amplify Science, and the International Baccalaureate program. More recently, she led professional development for science and engineering teachers while also conducting formalized research in her classroom related to the implementation of NGSS-aligned curriculum and best practices in science education. Sara received her MA in curriculum and instruction in secondary science from the University of Colorado, Boulder and her BS in biology from the University of Michigan. Sara enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 children, reading, and playing ultimate frisbee and volleyball.
Nikki joined the Life Lab development team Fall of 2019 just in time to celebrate our 40th Anniversary Gala. Nikki is a Washington state native and received an Intl Studies degree from the University of South Florida. Her past experiences working in education, the food and wine industry, and community advocacy bring insight and a deep network to Life Lab. Nikki loves to travel, nature, gardening, food, bringing people together, and being a mother of 2.
Hello! I graduated from CalPoly Pomona with a B.F.A in Visual Communications with a minor in marketing. I am excited to share the amazing work that Life Lab does in the greater Santa Cruz County and the national impact we have.
Amber Turpin was fortunate enough to grow up in a garden. Since then, she has dedicated most of her efforts towards the good food movement, promoting access to ethical, delicious, and pure food for all. From freelance food writing, working as Office Manager for Slow Food Nation, starting an artisan cookie company, or pulling weeds on her small farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Amber lends a diverse passion for all things food to her work at Life Lab. Read more about Amber
Amy was born and raised in Livermore California and enjoys living in Santa Cruz with her husband and 7 month old daughter, Sierra. Amy is a middle school teacher by trade, but has enjoyed her time with the Life Lab crew since 2018, specifically helping to coordinate logistics for workshops/SGSO and interacting with all of the sweet campers, field trippers, and workshop attendees who come to the garden. In her spare time you can find Amy running, surfing, mountain biking, or most likely taking Sierra for a walk to show her the trees, bushes, and flowers!
🥕 VOTE FOR LIFE LAB! 🥕Help us grow healthy children and reduce your carbon footprint. 🌿EVERY time you visit ANY New Leaf Community Market (@NewLeafCMarket) from now until June 20th, find the PAPER BALLOT in the store & VOTE FOR LIFE LAB to be a recipient of the Envirotoken program. 10 cents from every reusable bag can be donated to us. This support has provided a wonderful boost for us over the years–thanks for your votes! … See MoreSee Less
🏳️🌈. Happy #PrideMonth! 🏳️🌈We take the time to honor some of the leaders that have helped make the month of June a celebration. Pride month wasn’t always parades, rainbow flags and fun. The beginnings of Pride month started with the Stonewall Riots in 1969, however these protests were the culmination of decades of civil rights movements. We honor the leaders of these protests that not only created representation for the queer community but also created representation for black and trans members of the community. Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and Stormé DeLarverie were leaders in the Stonewall Protest. These trans women and women of color fought and advocated for LGBTQIA rights.This past month PVUSD joined in with California public schools in raising the Progress Pride flag, which includes black, brown, light blue, pink, and white stripes that brings awareness to marginalized people of color, trans individuals, and those living with HIV/AIDS and those who have been lost. Life Lab proudly stands in solidarity with the queer community we invite people to learn more about Stonewall, Pride, and the leaders who have helped us get to where we are today. … See MoreSee Less
🗣️PSA: Life Lab is Hiring 🗣️ We are seeking energetic, experienced and dedicated individuals to join the Life Lab team!We are hiring for 3 different positions:🌱 Pajaro Valley Partner Schools Program Coordinator (Bilingual)🥕 Nutrition Educator in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District🌸 Life Lab Garden Educator in the Pajaro Valley Unified School DistrictFor more information and how to apply, click the link below.lifelab.org/jobs/ … See MoreSee Less
Planting Seeds: A Conversation About Planned Giving 🌱Join us Life Lab Saturday May 15th at 10am for a gentle, free “no ask” opportunity to learn more about financial planning and the reciprocal personal and community benefits of planned giving🥕Similar to a garden, all that is needed is some planning and vision. “You don’t need to be wealthy to make an impact, just an opportunity to learn how to make the most of what you have.” 💚Message me for event link ✨#giving #lifelab #schoolgardens#retirement#plannedgiving#loveoflearning #sharingvalues #legacy … See MoreSee Less