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 

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

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 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 Amy at amy@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

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

Garden Crew – transportation provided

Wednesdays 8:30am – 2pm. Get your hands in the dirt at our Garden Classroom site on the UCSC Farm and at school gardens in Watsonville! (Transportation provided from the UCSC Farm on Watsonville days)
Grow your gardening skills, learn the basics of garden design and elements of a child-friendly garden, and work with kids in school gardens. Learn more and apply at www.lifelab.org/school-garden-crew/

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 Amy at 831.459.4035, amy@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 Amy at amy@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

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 – 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 or 831.459.4035

Garden Crew – transportation provided

Wednesdays 9am – 2pm. Get your hands in the dirt at our Garden Classroom site on the UCSC Farm and at school gardens in Watsonville! (Transportation provided from the UCSC Farm on Watsonville days)
Grow your gardening skills, learn the basics of garden design and elements of a child-friendly garden, and work with kids in school gardens. Learn more and apply at www.lifelab.org/school-garden-crew/

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 Amy at amy@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

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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2 days ago

Life Lab

In the face of the myriad challenges of 2020, all of you in SGSOs across the country are innovating in creative and inspiring ways to sustain and enhance garden education for their students. We are eager for other SGSOs to learn from you!💚

We want to honor the time and expertise you all bring to the table and, therefore, with generous support from Whole Kids Foundation we are so pleased to be able to provide stipends for peoples’ contributions to these Working Groups.🌱

This year’s SGSO Institute is open to newcomers and SGSO Institute Alumni! Applications are due Nov 6, 2020.
To learn more about this exciting opportunity and apply, visit: lifelab.org/sgso See MoreSee Less

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5 days ago

Life Lab

The Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation is proudly celebrating five years of supporting nonprofits that teach students and communities about the goodness of fresh ingredients. This year, the Foundation awarded more than 110 Neighborhood Grants to nonprofit organizations, with Life Lab being one of them!

We are grateful for the continued support from Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation. Life Lab is honored to have been chosen as a recipient of the Neighborhood Grants. Our partnership reflects Sprouts Farmers Market’s core values of education, environmental stewardship, and nutrition.

With this support we have been able to launch and sustain BackPocketLearning.org, a robust directory of easy to use activities that require no screen time, promote healthy eating and inspires creativity. This site is perfect for teachers and parents alike! BackPocketLearning.org has garnished over 7k users from all over the world, in almost every continent, since our launch in April.

Sprouts Farmers Market

#sproutsfarmersmarket #MyLifelab #local #nonprofit See MoreSee Less

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1 week ago

Life Lab

🌱 Join the SGSO Leadership Institute 🌱

Every year, we host a School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute to provide an opportunity for school garden professionals from across the country to collaborate, learn from one another, and develop resources to share with a national audience. Collectively, SGSO Institute participants have improved their own work while also sharing ideas and resources to help others do the same.

In the face of the myriad challenges of 2020, all of you in SGSOs across the country are innovating in creative and inspiring ways to sustain and enhance garden education for their students. We are eager for other SGSOs to learn from you! With generous support from Whole Kids Foundation , we are pleased to be able to provide stipends for peoples’ contributions to these Working Groups.

This year’s SGSO Institute is open to newcomers and SGSO Institute Alumni!

🚨 Applications are due November 6, 2020 🚨

To learn more about this exciting opportunity and apply, visit: lifelab.org/sgso See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Life Lab celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day with special recognition of the land on which our gardens grow and by sharing beautiful family friendly resources highlighting indigenous storytelling and efforts of Native peoples to reclaim food sovereignty, cultural identity, and native land stewardship.

The Life Lab Land Acknowledgement, now shared at all formal gatherings in our Garden Classroom on the UCSC campus:

“The land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.”

*Land acknowledgement developed in partnership with the
Amah Mutsun Tribal Band Chairman and the Amah Mutsun
Relearning Program at the UCSC Arboretum.

Learn more about the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the
www.amahmutsunlandtrust.org/

Life Lab is honored to support the film, GATHER (Gather) with a
FREE virtual screening on October 30th at 7pm

📷 credit: Amah Mutsun Land Trust website See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Looking for some #garden #joy? Join us for a sweet sharing of Life Lab Reimagined: program updates, inspired learning, and community at our Fall Benefit this Saturday at 10:30am 🌱Register at Lifelab.org/fallbenefit 🌱Learn about our New Curriculum, New Life Lab Educator Certification Program, New Staff, and New Garden Additions👀Plus all the beautiful work we’re doing to support school garden education locally and nationally🌻Participants are automatically eligible to win a raffle prize courtesy of @synergyclothing ❤️ #schoolgarden #education #kisstheground #teachtheyouth #landstewardship #fundraiser See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

It’s Harvest Festival Week🌻happening virtually October 5-10th. A collaboration between the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems UCSC CASFS Farm Life Lab​, and students of UCSC Food Systems Working Group
Mark your calendar! The week-long series is full of fun virtual activities for all ages, with live streamed musical performances, a lecture on agroecology from a panel of experts, and ending the week with Life Lab’s #Funtastic Fall Benefit highlighting new program updates and staff/garden additions. Register at www.LifeLab.org/fallbenefit

Visit bit.ly/ucscharvestfest for a complete schedule of events and registration instructions.

Monday, October 5
7:00 PM – 7:45 PM
Life Lab Backyard Chickens Q&A

Tuesday, October 6
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Saving Seeds, Sustaining Our Communities

Wednesday, October 7
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
The evolution of agroecology as a practice, a research discipline, and a social movement

7:00 PM – 7:45 PM
Nurture Yourselves With Nature!

Thursday, October 8
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Cider Donut Workshop and The Everything Apple Panel

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Celebrating Queers and Nature

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Giant Green Anemone! Going Deep Into Local Tide Pool Explorations

Friday, October 9
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Planting Seeds For Success: Community Connections to Water Your Garden for Wellness!

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
What is the Food Systems Working Group and what does it do?

5:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Rachel Carson Garden Cooking + Poetry Workshop/Mic!

Saturday, October 10
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Life Lab Fall Benefit Gathering
#schoolgardens #gardeneducation #lifelab #harvest #gratitude See MoreSee Less

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4 weeks ago

Life Lab

Happy weekend everyone ☀️Enjoy this sweet share of the UCSC Farm featuring Life Lab 🌱and our chickens! 🐓We look forward to sharing more with all of you as part of our upcoming Fall Benefit on October 10th. Register at Lifelab.org/fallbenefit youtu.be/uEAv4SabLoA See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

In celebration of the Fall Equinox 🍁we are excited to share a poignant new film called Kiss the Ground Movie🌱Life Lab is honored to have partnered with Kiss the Ground to develop middle school curriculum and accompanying training video for educators, focused on the process of capturing and storing carbon in living organisms such as soil, plants and algae.🌿

This hopeful film showcases part of the solution to climate change that is right under our feet: biosequestration in the soil. Life Lab invites you to join a Global Watch Party for the film, followed by a live Q and A at 6pm PST / 9pm EST. For more info, go to Kiss the Ground Movie 🌍 #Lifelab #regenerativeagriculture #schoolgardens #soilhealth #earthactivist #climatechangesolutions See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

It’s World Gratitude Day! 💐Life Lab is grateful for our community and to continue our 40+ year mission of cultivating children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden based education🌱#life lab #schoolgardens #education #worldgratitudeday #gratitude See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

Join us on October 10th at 10:30am for Life Lab’s Fall Benefit: A Celebration of Learning and Community.
Register at LifeLab.org/fall-benefit
This virtual event includes a tour of Life Lab’s evolving work and vision. Plus we have a surprise announcement! We are thankful for your encouragement and support as a member of our Life Lab community. Despite the challenges of this unprecedented year, Life Lab is moving forward with grace and creative innovation. The events of this season have provided opportunities to support our local community and national networks in new ways, expand our reach through virtual connections, and dive more deeply into justice and equity in all of our work. We are strengthening the roots that feed Life Lab programs as we continue to transform the Nature of Education. Continued cultivation of children’s love for learning and connections with healthy food and nature during COVID is essential and brings hope, wonder, and a much needed breath of fresh air. We are excited to share the inspiring work of our dedicated staff with you! #gratitude #schoolgardens #education #lifelab #fundraiser #gardens
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Stock up your Garden Classroom

Life Lab 40th
Life Lab’s 40th Gala – Sunday, October 13th  Celebrate 40 years of bringing learning to life in gardens. Learn more  
Life Lab's 40th Gala
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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