Life Lab

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

Participant Hub - SGSO Leadership Institute 2022

December 4, 2022 at 4pm – December 9 ••• Mission Springs Conference Center, Scotts Valley, CA

School Garden Leaders
2020 Leadership Institute Participant Group Photo

Questions or Concerns? Text or Call Kelsey at 831 200 1864


Helpful Links

Where and When?

Mission Springs Conference Center, 1050 Lockhart Gulch Road, Scotts Valley, 95066

Directions: Map It / Driving Directions
Enter at the second driveway, park, leave your stuff in your car, and check in at the Tabernacle Room.

We will provide transportation from and to SFO or SJC for those arriving on the 4th and leaving on the 9th. Look for an email from for carpool information. Plan to arrive at Mission Springs no later than 4pm on December 4.

Mission Springs Conference Center

Items To Pack

  • Attire for changing weather. At this time of year, we often have daytime temps in the 50s or 60s and evenings in the low 40s. Check the forecast before you come. Rain is definitely possible.
  • Sun hat and good walking shoes for the garden and redwood forest
  • Sunscreen
  • Water Bottle and Reusable Mug
  • Laptop computer, if you have one – We will be creating documents using google docs (wifi will be available in some areas of the conference center)
  • Appropriate chargers for your devices
  • Note-taking supplies
  • Personal toiletries
  • (Optional) small flashlight

COVID 19 Policy

In an effort to reduce the risk of COVID transmission, we ask that all participants take a self COVID test the evening of December 3rd or the morning of December 4th and share your negative test results via this form. The form will allow you to upload an image of your negative COVID test result saved on your computer. If you are using your phone to submit the form, you will be able to upload an image file or take a photo of your test result when you get to the “Upload an Image” question of the form.

Participants who test positive will be asked not to attend and a refund will be provided.

At this time, masks will not be required. Masks may be required if COVID numbers spike or a meeting host venue requests the use of masks.

We will have masks and Covid rapid tests at the conference center.

2022 Participants

Organization State Attendee Attendee Job Title
Academy for Global Citizenship IL Kris De la Torre Director of Sustainability & Wellness
Chicago Public Schools IL Ilana Marder-Eppstein CPS Garden Specialist
Boulder Valley School District CO Susan Cousins Operational Services Communications Manager
Boulder Valley School District – School Food Project CO Miriam Holleb School Food Project Food System eeCorps Member
City Blossoms DC Rafael Woldeab Executive Director
City Blossoms DC Darian Artis School Garden Partners Coordinator
Columbus City School OH Katie Young Farm to School/Nutrition Coordinator
Columbus City Schools OH Victoria Johnson PreK teacher
Friends of the National Arboretum DC Allie Arnold School Garden Program Manager
Friends of the National Arboretum DC Ashley Rattanawan School Garden Program Manager
Gardeneers IL Selma Sims CEO + Head Grower
Gardeneers IL Rebecca MacDonald Director of Curriculum + Learning
Growing Healthy Kids – Mount Diablo USD CA Laney Cline King Program Director
Growing Healthy Kids – Mount Diablo USD CA Alice Burns Garden Educator/Trainer
Grow Pittsburgh PA Redding Jackson Learning Garden Educator
Grow Pittsburgh PA Adia Effiong Director of School Garden Programs
GrowingGreat CA Adriana Bikouvaris Early Childhood Program Manager
GrowingGreat CA Meghan Nealon STEM Program Director
Houston ISD Nutrition Services TX Phyllicia Moore Agriculture Specialist
Houston ISD TX Matthew Graham Farm & Garden Educator
Life Lab CA Aisling Mitchell  Pajaro Valley Unified School District Partner Schools Program Lead
Life Lab CA Alyssa Ellis  Pajaro Valley Unified School District Partner Schools Program Lead
Life Lab CA Sasha Retford Gonzalez  Pajaro Valley Unified School District Partner Schools Garden Lead
Life Lab CA Geoff Palla Live Oak School District/ Santa Cruz City Schools Partner Schools Manager
Life Lab CA Whitney Cohen Education Director
Life Lab CA John Fisher Director of Programs & Partnerships
Life Lab CA Judit Camacho Co-Executive Director
Life Lab CA Regi Jones National Curriculum and Training Specialist
Office of the State Superintendent of Education DC Sam Ullery School Gardens Specialist
Openlands IL Jessica Fong Director of Education
Openlands IL Danielle Russell School Gardens Coordinator
Pittsburg Unified School District CA Mary Helen Nicolini Garden Specialist
Pittsburg Unified School District CA Elizabeth Oberender Child Nutrition Supervisor
Prescott Unified School District No. 1 AZ Sara Reveile Farm to School Coordinator
Skyview School AZ Ashley Fine School Garden Coordinator/ Educator
Saint Paul Public Schools MN Kirsten Saylor School Garden Specialist Consultant/Grow Our Own Program Coordinator
Saint Paul Public Schools MN Chelsea Moody Environmental Specialist 2
Santa Clara County Office of Education CA Jennifer Mutch Science Coordinator
Santa Clara County Office of Education CA Marie Bacher Director of Environmental Education-Walden West
Schenectady City School District NY Rebekka Henriksen Farm to School Project Manager
Schenectady City School District NY Nicole Marriner STEM/Media Specialist
SGSO Network TX Tristana Pirkl Director
Upland Unified School District CA Cassidy Boardman Farm to School Program Manager
Upland Unified School District CA Ksenia Glenn Director of Nutrition Services
Waukee Community Schools IA Kaitlyn Scheuermann Dietitian
Waukee Community Schools IA Ali Locker Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning
Ysabel Barnett Elementary/TVHS CA Andy Hintz Garden Lead
Temecula Valley USD CA Meghan Manion Garden Lead
2022 SGSO Leadership Institute Participating Organizations

What and Who?

Every year, the School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute provides 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. In this way, we all become able to better support school gardens in our regions, and also advance the national school garden movement.

The 2022 SGSO Leadership Institute will prioritize school district-based programs. These are programs that have district school garden program staff, have a strong partnership with one or more school districts, or are working toward partnership with a school district. Each team invited to attend will send 2 key leaders to the Institute. Teams can be comprised of two people from the same organization, or two individuals from different organizations who work closely together to support multiple school gardens in their region. If you’d like to remind yourself about the general idea of the institute, you can read about it here:

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