Life Lab

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

Garden as a Classroom


Learn to use a garden to breathe life into standards-based lessons based on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core Language Arts and Math. Participants in this course will also explore best practices for establishing and maintaining a positive, engaging culture of learning and fun in a garden setting. We will learn how to set the tone for equitable and inclusive instruction; garden class routines; and specific techniques to maximize student engagement and participation using Life Lab’s The Growing Classroom activity guide for grades K-6 and our newly released NGSS-aligned lessons. 


Graduate education units available.


Opens March 8th and Closes May 7th

Live Sessions:  Thursdays 3:30 – 5:00 PST

March 18th,  April 1st,  April 15th,  April 29th


  • Responsive outdoor management and positive discipline strategies
  • Experiential learning pedagogy for the garden classroom
  • How to link garden-based lessons to the 3 dimensions in NGSS
  • How to use garden-based lessons to reinforce Common Core Math and English Language Arts standards


  • Four (4)  90-minute synchronous virtual sessions that include discussions, sharing of resources, hands-on demonstration lessons, and community building.
  • Asynchronous content that can be completed on your own time 
  • A one-on-one personalized coaching session that includes specific feedback catered to your needs. 
  • Relevant resources in digital format
  • A copy of The Growing Classroom 
  • Free Seeds!


 K-6 classroom teachers, garden educators, organizations interested in supporting garden-based learning on small and large scales.


24 participants



  • Complete all 4 courses in the series: 
    • Building Connections in the Garden
    • The Garden as a Classroom
    • Plant to Plate
    • School Garden Program Sustainability
  • Demonstrate positive and effective instruction in the coaching session for each course 
  • Attend all synchronous sessions in each course (4 per course)
  • Complete a final reflection on the Life Lab approach to garden-based education, and how it applies to your work and community after all 4 courses have been completed.

Ideally participants complete the series of courses over 1 year.  However, if there are extenuating circumstances participants can become certified if they take all required courses within 2 years.  The next set of courses will begin again in the fall of 2021 

  • People who have taken a previous in-person Life Lab workshop within the last 3 years can count that workshop towards the certification. Workshops that transfer to the certification program:
    • Plant to Plate workshop → Plant to Plate Course
    • School Garden Program Sustainability workshop → School Garden Program Sustainability Course
    • The Growing Classroom → The Garden as a Classroom Course
  • If you are interested in earning the full certification and want to use your completion of a previous workshop towards the certification, please contact Nicole at for more information on how to register.

Upon successful completion of each course, 2 University of the Pacific graduate education credits can be earned for an additional fee of $80 per credit hour, payable to University of the Pacific.  Most people seeking these credits are educators who are looking to increase their salary on a credit-based pay scale or for relicensure credit.  Most institutions do not accept UofP credits towards a specific graduate degree however, if there is a specific program you intend to pursue, it may be worth checking with that institution.

Life Lab offers a limited number of course fee reductions based on need and anticipated impact. To apply for financial assistance click FinancialAssistanceApp. If you are a Santa Cruz County Educator, we also offer a significant discount. Please email or call (831) 400-2016 for details. 

We understand that plans can change.  Should you wish to cancel your registration, please submit, in writing, your cancellation to  Your registration fee will be refunded, less a $50 administrative fee.  Regretfully, we will not be able to refund any fees if cancellation is made within 1 week of the opening course date except, of course, in cases of illness or emergency.

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