Life Lab

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



Fall Opportunities    Winter Opportunities    Spring Opportunities    Summer Opportunities 

All internships are currently on hold due to COVID. Hope to see you soon!

Year-round Organic Gardening Internships at the Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm – Just want to get your hands dirty and learn about organic gardening? email Jennifer at garden@lifelab.org

Environment Education Internships: Come celebrate the harvest, make a difference at a local school, enjoy the outdoors with kids, and get school credit!
Multiple programs available: combine teaching with gardening, take on a special project!

All our environmental education interns receive training in garden-based environmental education, working with children, concepts in organic gardening & farming, games, songs, and much more!

2 UCSC credits available with 6 internship hours per week, 5 UCSC credits available with 12-14 internship hours per week. Credit can be earned through other institutions as well. Learn more about earning credit.

Spring Opportunities

Science Exploration at the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm

Lead groups of elementary schoolers on hands-on science investigations in the Life Lab Garden Classroom and explorations of the UCSC Farm.
When: Spring UCSC Quarter, Mon or Tues, 9:00-2:00
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org

Seeds of Wonder Field Trips

Lead groups of pre-schoolers and Kindergarteners in hands-on garden explorations in the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm on Wednesday from 8:30-1:45.
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

Blooming Classroom Field Trips in Watsonville – transportation provided from the UCSC Farm

Lead groups of 3rd-5th graders in hands-on science and nutrition investigations at Life Lab’s Blooming Classroom site in Watsonville on Tuesdays from 1:00-6:00 and/or Thursdays or Fridays from 8:30-2:00.
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

 

Summer Internships/Volunteer Opportunities

Interns assist with our garden-based summer camps. Work with our counselors to make camp happen! Assist with teaching camp activities, leading hikes, and behind-the-scenes tasks such as setting up stations and stocking materials. Gain valuable experience in environmental education!

Garden Sprouts Camp (for 4-6 year olds) Come explore the garden and farm with us! Our camp days will include harvesting, making garden snacks, singing, storytelling, garden caretaking, garden crafts, and investigation of the natural world. Each day has a theme (past examples: Bugs, Seeds, Chickens & Eggs).

Wildlands & Watering Cans Camp (for 7-11 year olds) Come explore, harvest, prepare and enjoy fresh food from the farm, hike, create garden crafts, art, and music, play games, and form new friendships! Each day has a theme (past examples: Bug Day, Solar Energy Day, Chickens & Eggs Day) and each day begins with farm chores (Chickens, Fresh Fruit Popsicle-making, Farm Update, and Weather Report) and ends with storytelling under the walnut tree. The last Friday afternoon of each session families join us for a kid- harvested Farmer’s Market Party.

Interns receive training in: Garden-based environmental education, working with children in an outdoor setting, positive discipline, games, songs, activities, and much more!

For more information contact Cara, cara@lifelab.org.

Fall Opportunities

Farm to Fork Field Trips at the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm

Lead groups of elementary schoolers on hands-on harvest celebrations on the UCSC farm and Life Lab Garden Classroom.
When: Fall UCSC Quarter, Mon or Tues, 9:00-2:00
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org

Seeds of Wonder Field Trips

Lead groups of pre-schoolers and Kindergarteners in hands-on garden explorations in the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm on Wednesday from 8:30-1:45.
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org

Blooming Classroom Field Trips in Watsonville – Carpooling can be arranged; transportation provided from the UCSC Farm

Lead groups of 3rd-5th graders in hands-on science and nutrition investigations at Life Lab’s Blooming Classroom site in Watsonville on Tuesdays from 1:00-6:00 and/or Thursdays or Fridays from 8:30-2:00.
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org

Winter Opportunities

Blooming Classroom Field Trips in Watsonville – transportation provided from the UCSC Farm

Lead groups of 3rd-5th graders in hands-on science and nutrition investigations at Life Lab’s Blooming Classroom site in Watsonville on Tuesdays from 1:00-6:00 and/or Thursdays or Fridays from 8:30-2:00.
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

Feeling Fine with Fresh Foods at the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm

Lead groups 3rd-5th graders in hands-on cooking and nutrition investigations in the Life Lab Garden Classroom and on the UCSC Farm.
When: Jan-March, Tuesdays 9:00-2:00
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org

Kids Cook – Classroom Cooking

Our Kids Cook program teaches 3rd-5th grade classes about nutrition and healthy food choices in Watsonville Elementary Schools. You need your own transportation.

Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays 9am-2pm (less hours per day also an option)
Contact Aisling Mitchell at aisling@lifelab.org

How To Get College Credit

See Environmental Studies DepartmentCommunity Studies Field Program or Independent Study for more on getting UCSC credit as a Life Lab intern. We also serve interns from other institutions such as Cabrillo Work Experience and CSUMB Service Learning, as well as non-student volunteers.

Quotes From Past Interns

“Interning at Life Lab was one of my favorite experiences at UCSC. The kids, the staff and the atmosphere are unparalleled. You don’t know how much I regretted finding out about Life Lab during my final year; I would have been there starting freshman year if I had known. You won’t find a better place to be anywhere on campus.”

“I just wanted to write and express my thanks to all of you. I just applied and was offered the position of Garden Education Manager at Harding Elementary School in Santa Barbara. This position is honestly a dream come true and I know I couldn’t have made it here without the knowledge and support I received from all of you. I hope the gardens I help to build and create over the next 2 years bring even a fraction of the wonder and joy that the Life Lab Science Program and garden has brought to it’s visiting students and interns.  Thank you! All the best!

– Emma Hodges, 2010

“I just wanted to thank you so much for all the encouragement and wisdom you have passed my way. I did end up getting a job with Playworks, a non profit organization that energizes classroom learning through safe, healthy, and inclusive play out on the recess yard. I’m also running a leadership program with 35 4th & 5th graders and an after school enrichment program with 15 students. I can not tell you how helpful it is to draw back on all my previous experience with kids. Life Lab does such a wonderful job of sustaining an entire quarter’s worth of action and reflection. – Rachel Evernden, 2010

“Introducing kids to the many faces of Mother Nature during my Life Lab internship at the UCSC farm made college a holistic experience, grounded on nutrient-rich, compost earth; there is nothing more fufilling than nurturing the bonds between the next generation and permaculture. Kids with a connection to dirt and bugs and our food sources are kids that are going to make a paradigm shift in the modern ecological idiom from a planet in environmental degradation to a happenin’ biodiverse party in our bubble.”

– Molly McCalla, Anthropology 2002-2005

“Life Lab was a great opportunity for me to close my books for a while, leave the library and get outside to spend interactive time with kids! Life lab helped balance my time at UCSC and gave me the opportunity to witness the growth I was going through by being in college. It was a fun way to continue learning, but it gave me a chance to practice using my skills that I will need post-graduation! Thanks Life Lab!”

– Vanessa Shaw, Community Studies Class of 2006

“Life Lab was one of the most fun things I did in Santa Cruz, I wish I’d known about it earlier. I probably would have tried to be there every quarter!”

– Milli Chennell, History and Environmental Studies Double Major, 2000-2004

Read about the impact our program has had on our interns

The UCSC Farm offers the following Farming, Gardening, and Food System Opportunities

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1 week ago

Readers To Eaters

Great opportunity for young beekeepers! 🐝🐝 Check out Bee Grant from Whole Kids Foundation in partnership with The Bee Cause Project.Both WKF and BCP have been wonderful partners in promoting bee education and food literacy. See• WFK "World of Honey Bees," wonderful resource including Bee Activity Box featuring The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter. bit.ly/3h5SEb4• BCP Q&A with BEE author/illustrator Shabazz Larkin on #creativity #mindfulness & how we can take steps to care for the earth. bit.ly/3AoptJmGreat sharing for September #FoodLiteracyMonth and October National #FarmToSchoolMonth! ..#Bees #Pollinators #BeeEducation #BeeGarden #SaveTheBees #GiveBeesAChance #SchoolGarden #GardenEducation #OutdoorEducation #EnvironmentalEducation #ClimateEducation #FarmToSchool #AITC #AgClassroom #AgLiteracy #ScienceEducation #STEM #STEAM #FoodLiteracy #FoodEducation National Farm to School NetworkNational Agriculture in the ClassroomAmerican Farm Bureau Foundation for AgricultureJunior Master Gardener ProgramThe American Horticultural Society FoodCorps Common Threads Farm Center for Ecoliteracy Life LabThe Edible Schoolyard Project Edible Schoolyard NYCBzzt! Bee grant applications are now open! If you are interested in receiving an educational beehive or support for bee programming at your school or organization, apply for our bee grant in partnership with The Bee Cause Project. Learn more and register for our 9/15 webinar at: bit.ly/3DDfkL3

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4 weeks ago

Save Our Shores

Annual Coastal Cleanup is just around the corner and we are still looking for site captains for 7 of our region’s sites. This is a tremendous opportunity to join the region’s biggest annual volunteer effort to help protect our life-giving waters! For teens who are willing to partner with a parent or guardian, it’s also a fabulous way to practice leadership skills while earning community service credits!Ready to join us as a site captain? Sign up at docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfEoLUWDzybzQ_iUyKQhCetuywE8eKlnmZSi6neKIjdBHLSgQ/viewformWant to volunteer on Sept 18? Sign up at docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScdrSlrMTFOR7PBuGjwmSxx0DItsoctuloI5EI7eisRx8H6jw/viewformFriends of Santa Cruz State Parks Santa Cruz County Bank KindPeoples California State Parks Foundation California State Parks Kayak Connection Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center – Unofficial Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Monterey Bay Aquarium FishWise Seafood Watch Surfrider Foundation Santa Cruz Chapter The Bird School Project Life Lab Santa Cruz County Office of Education City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Lookout Santa Cruz County of Santa Cruz Aqua Safaris Scuba Center Live Like Coco Good Times Santa Cruz Santa Cruz Sentinel KAZU 90.3 Return of the Natives Restoration Education Project Santa Cruz State Junior Lifeguards

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4 weeks ago

Life Lab

🌱 We only have 2 spots left in our School Garden Educator Certification Program! 🌱 Sign-up today for the entire series of courses on our website. Our first course, Building Connections in the Garden, starts with asynchronous work on September 1st and our first synchronous session will be on Wednesday, September 8th from 3:30 – 5:00 PST. You may continue to sign up through August 31st or until all spots are filled. Upon completion of the 4 courses, participants will receive a certificate and the distinction of being a Life Lab-Certified Garden Educator. Each course will last approximately 4 weeks long and include 4 synchronous meetings, at-home work, and a unique coaching model tailored to each individual’s needs.lifelab.org/educator-certification-program/💚 We look forward to working with you!💚

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1 month ago

Nikki Patterson

Beautiful way to end this spontaneous day. Thank you Don💐 Thank you Life Lab Thank you UCSC CASFS Farm and Thank you Matthew Raiford#grateful #Interconnections #bressnnyam #blackfarmers #heritagefarm #yeschef #badass #organicgardening @bookshopsc ❤️

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1 month ago

Philip Lee

Good read during summer zucchini season! See Booklist review of LAS CALABACITAS DE ZORA, translated from Zora’s Zucchini: "By story’s end, Zora has learned the importance of growing, harvesting, and, above all, sharing food. [Anna] Raff’s appealing watercolor illustrations are soft and inviting, and an author’s note explains the ‘Donate, Preserve, Share’ concepts behind growing gardens. The translation’s well-chosen Spanish is simple to read aloud in a classroom or storytelling setting." bit.ly/3jWFZcGWe’re thrilled that LAS CALABACITAS DE ZORA audiobook is out this spring from Live Oak Media!Come hear author Katherine Pryor discuss ZORA and connecting food & literacy, on Big Green‘s webinar, along with Marie Dennan, BG’s Memphis program manager, and Micheál Newman-Brooks, program manager of school gardens with Chicago Public Schools. 8/18 @ 1PM ET / 10AM PT. Free register@ bit.ly/2XuQsV3Get zucchini recipes, food swap ideas@ bit.ly/3xx996Z..#SpanishChildrensBooks #Zucchini #SummerReading #SummerGardening #KidsGardening #SchoolGarden #BackToSchool #GardenEducation #FoodSwap #FoodWaste #FarmToSchool #AgClassroom #AgLiteracy #AITCThe Edible Schoolyard Project Edible Schoolyard NYCSlow Food USA School Garden Network Green Bronx Machine Life Lab Common Threads Farm Center for Ecoliteracy

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2 months ago

Philip Lee

See Our School Garden! author Rick Swann present on connecting school garden & literacy on 8/10, last of the Food Literacy Summer Author Series from Clemson Extension School & Community Gardening and South Carolina Farm to School Also presenting will be Tracy Miskelly at SC Ag in the Classroom. Register at bit.ly/3C2WjkyRick is a former Seattle school librarian. His work researching on creating a garden for his school led to his poems for OUR SCHOOL GARDEN! See discussion guides on OUR SCHOOL GARDEN from The Bee Cause Project Book Club. bit.ly/3rU2D7URead more about the Summer Author seriest: "Clemson Extension launches author series aimed at improving food literacy for SC youth." bit.ly/2Vlzc3A..#Poetry #FoodPoetry #FoundPoem #SchoolGarden #GardenEducation #SummerReading #SummerLearning #FarmToSchool #AgClassroomJunior Master Gardener ProgramSlow Food USA School Garden Network Common Threads Farm Life Lab FoodCorps

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Magical seeds are being planted at Starlight Elementary in Watsonville that will blossom into a garden and teaching kitchen where students will learn, grow & thrive. Community Foundation staff was thrilled to visit the site last week, meet with partners, and learn more about the project (a recipient of a 2021 community grant. (Pictured from left to right: Judit Camacho, Jennifer Holm, Michelle Rodriguez, Hilary Bryant, Kevin Heuer, Jackie Medina, Don Burgett, Francisco Estrada, & Julie Edwards)with:Emeril Lagasse Foundation Life Lab Community Health Trust of Pajaro ValleyPajaro Valley Unified School District

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2 months ago

Readers To Eaters

Happy National Urban Beekeeping Day! See info on urban bees from Detroit Hives. Good day to share The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter. See author/illustrator Shabazz Larkin read the book for PBSThirteen WNET New York with wonderful message at the end on how to take care of bees, our environment, and ourselves! bit.ly/32LQ0S0..#nationalurbanbeekeepingday #urbanbees #beekeepers #beeeducation #savethebees #givebeesachance #pollinators #pollination #farmtoschool #agclassroom #agliteracy #AITC #summerlearning #summerreading National Agriculture in the ClassroomMichigan Agriculture in the Classroom New York Agriculture in the ClassroomWisconsin Ag in the Classroom ProgramEdible Schoolyard NYC The Edible Schoolyard Project Life Lab Big Green Common Threads Farm Slow Food USA School Garden Network

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3 months ago

Life Lab

¡Estamos emocionados de anunciar la versión en Español del curso GRATIS aclamado, Enseñando en el Aula de la Naturaleza! Conéctese con otros educadores y desarrolle nuevas estrategias y maneras de ver el aula al aire libre. Es una gran oportunidad tanto para educadores nuevos a la enseñanza al aire libre y educación basada en el jardín como para los más experimentados en esta práctica. Lea más y registrese aquí: wischoolgardens.org/EAN-curso/Wisconsin School Garden Network _________________________________We are excited to announce a Spanish language version of the acclaimed FREE course, Teaching in Nature’s Classroom! Connect with educators and develop new strategies and ways of seeing the outdoor classroom. A great opportunity for educators new to outdoor and garden-based learning, as well as educators who are experienced in the field. Learn more and register here wischoolgardens.org/EAN-curso/Wisconsin School Garden Network

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Stock up your Garden Classroom

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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