Life Lab

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

Resources and Information for 2016 School Garden Support Organization Institute Participants

Your Hosts:  Sandy 831 750 7115  •  John 831 471 7831  •  Whitney 831 428 2064

Institute Documents

2016 SGSO Leadership Institue Documents (Key Actviitity Resource Folders, Key Actvity Working Group Templates, Your Site's PD Planning Sheet, etc.)
Can't access?? Text John at 8314717831 with your google user account emaill

COMPLETE BY MONDAY 12/5 AM  SGSO Pre-Participation Survey – one survey per team, answer as a team if you came with a team other 

Institute Agenda

Participant Roster

National School Garden Support Organization Forum

Institute Feed and Multimedia

instaAlso view #sgsoinstitute feed on Instagram 

Getting Here and Preparation Logistics

1. Institute Agenda –  We will have a printed agenda for you upon arrival. Note the pink text which summarizes what you will need related to particular agenda topics.
We recently learned that we will not be able to access our retreat meeting room until 3pm and our lodging rooms will not be available until 4pm. Some of you may be arriving earlier. In that case you have options to poke around a bit in the city you land in, drive into Santa Cruz and say hi to the Pacific Ocean, or arrive to the retreat center before 3 and take a stroll in the redwoods. Feel free to call one of the hosts listed above for suggestions.

Check in at Mission Spring in the Fireside Lounge starts at 3pm.

We will gather at 5pm on Sunday to begin our agenda.


2. Pre-Institute Homework To make the most of our gathering we’d like you to take the time to do the following before we meet:

By November 23rd, have one of your team answer this pre-participation survey  see which organizations have responded and what they had to say


Come to the Institute prepared to give a 5-minute introduction to your organization. If you are using Powerpoint slides, please limit to no more than 5 slides. You can bring slides on a jump drive when you arrive on Sunday or email them prior to 12/4 to Sandy at See details of what we are looking for you to share in your presentation on Monday of the institute agenda.


Come prepared to share your best practices and favorite resources for training garden educators and resources/ideas on our 5 SGSO Key Activities. If any of your very favorite resources are not digital, please bring hard copies for people to see.  The Key Activities we’ll focus on are:

  • Identifying and Measuring Our Impact
  • Regional Networking
  • Models for Financial / Program Sustainability ​
  • Professional Development Models
  • Designing, Building, and Maintaining Multiple School Gardens


​Get your social accounts ready to “flirt” with us! Use #sgsoinstitute to tag your posts


If you find the time you may wish to read about the organizations that will be attending


3. Items to Pack:

  • Personal Toiletries
  • Attire for changing weather. We expect daytime 60s and evenings in the low 40s. Rain is definitely possible.
  • Sun hat and good walking shoes for the garden and forest
  • Laptop computers, we will be creating documents using google docs (wifi will be available in some areas of the conference center)
  • Note-taking supplies
  • Appropriate chargers for your devices
  • Travel Mug and/or Water Bottle


4. Transportation to Retreat Center You should have received an email from Sandy Lansdale regarding transportation from the airport to Mission Springs. If you have not or have any questions on transporting yourself from the airport to Mission Springs please connect with Sandy 831 750-7115. The car rental company said that all drivers can be listed to use the car for no additional cost so please have all your drivers list themselves as drivers of the car. We have also been informed that we need to pay the $12/per day insurance for the vehicle. Please have one of your carpool mates pay and submit reimbursement with Sandy. 

Mission Springs is located at 1050 Lockhart Gulch Rd, Scotts Valley, CA 95066  Map it here

  • San Jose Airport to Mission Springs is about 40 minutes without traffic which there shouldn’t be too much of on Sunday afternoon or Friday between 9am and 1pm
  • ​San Francisco Airport to Mission Springs is a little over an hour’s drive without traffic which there shouldn’t be too much of on Sunday afternoon or Friday between 9am and 1pm


5. Learn more about Santa Cruz. We will be staying at Mission Springs Conference Center which is 15 minutes outside of Santa Cruz in the mountains. View their Guest Information Brochure

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Teaching a Growing Classroom Workshop at @OakSpringGardenFoundation in collaboration with I feel like I’ve fallen into a small French village. This is the former estate of Paul and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon in Virginia. Mrs. Mellon was an avid horticulturalist who designed the White House Rose Garden! I am staying in the room where Jackie Kennedy stayed when she visited here!! Sharing a weekend in this space with teachers who love kids and gardens is a truly unforgettable experience. ... See MoreSee Less

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Just when I thought we’d seen it all ... this is an agrophotovoltaic school garden underneath massive solar panels at @Manzo.Ecology in Tucson. The elementary school students here gather and analyze data on how the shade from the panels helps the plants grow and how the plants help cool the panels and increase their efficiency. What?!?! It’s amazing and gives me hope. Oh, and also they have a desert tortoise in their courtyard. ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program at their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
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What happens when Whole Kids Foundation partners with you to bring 50+ leaders from School Garden Support Organizations from across the country together to get to talk shop, inspire each other, problem-solve around shared challenges, and eat amazing food prepared and served by happy 5th graders? MAGIC. That's what happens. #sgso2018 ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program for their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
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We are so grateful to be starting 2018 with such strong support! Because of so many generous gifts from our supporters like you, we surpassed our 2017 fundraising goal of $124,000, with all campaign donations totaling $125,835.

These funds will help make Life Lab field trip and summer camp programs possible for children from families and schools that could otherwise not afford them. We believe that ALL children deserve the chance to love learning, healthy food, and nature. Thanks to your support, this year we will serve even more children in Santa Cruz County and across the nation.


#beapartofit, #startingstrong, #changinglives, #isupportlifelab
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Happy almost 2018, Life Lab fans! We are only $809 dollars away from reaching our $124,000 year-end fundraising goal! Before you ring in the new year, will you help us ensure a promising 2018? 100% of the funds necessary to do this important work come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that we can continue to deepen and expand our reach, so that even more children can experience the joy of loving learning, healthy food, and nature? Your tax-deductible gift made by midnight tonight will go directly to supporting our programs.
#beapartofit, #changinglives, #optoutside, #gardenbasededucation, #happynewyear
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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.
Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside
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