Dear Life Lab Friends,
This summer I am stepping out of my role as executive director of Life Lab to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a business owner in Santa Cruz. Soon my family and I will open Westside Farm and Feed at Mission and Swift Streets. This is an exciting time for me and for Life Lab, and I look forward to staying involved in new ways, including joining the board of directors in August.
I came to Life Lab by way of a Growing Classroom workshop in the late 1980’s, when I was a classroom teacher in a rural school in Prunedale. Life Lab had a profound effect on my teaching and my students. From the very first moment I learned of Life Lab, I knew that the philosophy and strategies for teaching were aligned with my own deep beliefs of how people learn. My own childhood was spent outdoors and in a garden, and I’m very aware of how that molded my formative years. Never very comfortable in a classroom or sitting at a desk as a child, I found it hard to learn in a traditional way. Being outside, the world made sense to me. When I started teaching, I looked for ways to engage all of my students in meaningful learning. With the prompting of a forward thinking principal, I attended my first Life Lab workshop and from that day forward I embraced all of the Life Lab principles and saw my students blossom into life-long learners. No matter their learning styles, my students felt empowered by learning in a garden. When offered the chance to participate in the LASERS program (Language Acquisition through Science Education for Rural Students), I jumped at the offer, and learned that garden-based science education was key to helping my students learn English too.
In 1997 I was offered a job at Life Lab to help create the Life Lab children’s garden, and I have been here ever since. My position has changed through the years, and my dedication and love for Life Lab has never diminished. Over the past few years my life has taken many tumbles and turns, particularly when my fiancé was in a serious accident, and although he lived, both of our lives were altered beyond anything we could imagine. Life Lab, as with any wonderful family, stood by me and supported me through what was the hardest time in my life to date. Following my hard year, the recession brought hard times for Life Lab. We all dug deep and stayed dedicated to making Life Lab flourish once again. I am pleased that we weathered the worst of it and are not only still here, but moving forward with enthusiasm and growth. With all the exciting growth and energy, it seems like the perfect time for me to move forward in my own life outside of Life Lab, too.
The motivation to grab dreams and making them happen often comes out of serious life struggle. My dream has been to open a feed store, so I can share my passion for sustainable living skills and animal husbandry. The idea of Westside Farm and Feed started long ago through discussions with my cousins. Over the last year doors opened for us and the plans have gelled into reality, and it is now time to focus my energy on my new endeavor and to leave Life Lab in the very capable hands of the dedicated staff and board. I will be at the store on Swift Street every day and hope you will come visit me, my goats and my little dog Zipper there!
It has been an honor to work for Life Lab and with the board and staff to build an organization dedicated to helping people better their lives. I leave my daily position and work here with much sadness but also a realization that Life Lab will prosper and continue to grow. Don and I have been working as co-directors this past year, and I have full confidence in his abilities and spirit for carrying Life Lab into the future with the staff, board and community. I’m looking forward to taking a seat on the Life Lab board and attending all the Life Lab events that I can possibly attend!
Thank your for your faith and support over these many years. Life Lab is a wonderful organization and I’m so honored to be part of it. My Dad was a Korean War veteran. When he returned home from the fighting, he said that it was clear to him that the most important thing in life is to get to the end and KNOW that you did something worthwhile with your life. I appreciate every moment I’ve spent at Life Lab. My time working as a member of the staff has been purposeful and worthwhile.