Life Lab

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

School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute

January 21-26, 2018, Santa Cruz, California

Apply Here by July 31, 2017
Organizations selected to attend the institute will be notified by August 18, 2017.

 If you applied last year, and would like a copy of your original responses for reference, please email Sandy Lansdale at Thanks!

View what took place at our 2016 School Garden Support Organization Institute.

Join the National School Garden Network E-list to be part of a national dailogue of school garden support organizations.


Join School Garden Support Organizations from across the nation for a 5-day Leadership Institute in Santa Cruz, CA to learn from peer organizations and create an organizational action plan for accomplishing some or all of the following in your region:

  • Training and supporting educators to implement garden-based learning
  • Building and maintaining multiple school gardens
  • Funding school gardens or helping schools to create sustainable funding streams for gardens
  • Facilitating regional networking between school garden educators
  • Evaluating school garden programs

Institute lodging and food expenses for each team of 2 will be covered in full (double occupancy). Travel to institute to be covered by attendees. Travel scholarships will be available. In exchange for participation in the SGSO Leadership Institute, participants will pledge to provide one or more trainings and networking opportunities for school garden educators in their regions between February and June 2018, report on their progress, and share successes and challenges with a national audience. The leadership institute will take place at Mission Springs Conference Center with excursions to exemplary school garden programs.


This Leadership Institute is designed for teams of 2 from School Garden Support Organizations (SGSOs). A SGSO may be a nonprofit organization, university, government agency, foundation, school district, or other entity focused specifically on supporting garden-based learning for multiple schools in their region. SGSOs work to elevate the quality and sustainability of school garden programs across their region, serving thousands of children.    Primary SGSO activities are listed above in the "What" section.

Each SGSO is invited to attend will send 2 key leaders to the Institute. We are particularly seeking SGSOs that:

  • Have been actively supporting school gardens in their region for 8 years or fewer
  • Primarily support elementary school gardens
  • Have a primary focus on providing trainings for garden-based educators in their region, and
  • Plan to host garden-based professional development for educators between February – June 2018


School gardens have tremendous lifelong benefits for children. Research has shown that when children participate in a school garden program, they show marked improvement in healthy eating; social emotional skills; environmental attitudes; scientific achievement; and attitudes toward learning (

But school garden programs need support in order to unlock their full potential. Without well-trained educators, strong curriculum, and supportive networks, garden programs often become underutilized or even forgotten. With support, however, they thrive, become institutionalized into school cultures, and inspire children for decades.

Regional School Garden Support Organizations (SGSOs) have emerged as a key determinant in the success of school garden programs across the country. This Institute is designed to provide SGSO leaders with the inspiration and information they need to effectively support school garden programs in their regions, and to share best practices with other SGSOs nationally.

Apply Online by July 31, 2017.

Apply Here

 If you applied last year, and would like a copy of your original responses for reference, please email Sandy Lansdale at Thanks!


Connect wtih other School Garden Support Organizations on the National School Garden Support Organization Forum.


Hosted by Life Lab in partnership with Whole Kids Foundation 


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Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside

Life Lab has been the most innovative and relevant organization in this field. From providing the best curriculum to their cutting edge professional development, we have relied on Life Lab as our go to organization for support, ideas, and collaboration.

Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps

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.

Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary

Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.

Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom

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.