Don joined Life Lab in 2011 as associate director, working on finance, development, planning, and staff and board support. He served as co-director with Gail Harlamoff beginning in January 2012 and assumed the role of executive director in July 2012, when Gail left the staff and joined the board of directors. Previously, Don served as development director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation, the leading national organic farming grantmaking and advocacy organization in the U.S. Prior to a decade with OFRF, Don worked for three seasons as an apprentice and then staff of the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, where Life Lab is located. In the 1990s, Don was a leader in urban agriculture and community food security programs, working in low-income communities across Los Angeles, co-founding the LA Community Garden Council and the LA School Greening Partnership, and co-chairing the Urban Agriculture Committee of the national Community Food Security Coalition. Don earned a BA in Geography/Ecosystems from UCLA and a Master Gardener certificate from the UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles Common Ground Garden Program. Read more about Don.
John came to Life Lab in 2000 with years of experience as an environmental educator in places such as Hidden Villa and in Honduras as a Peace Corps Volunteer. After a couple of years working at UCSC CASFS as Outreach Coordinator, creating a summer camp program, and expanding fieldtrips John came to Life Lab. With Life Lab he built and maintained the Garden Classroom and developed programming for children and UCSC interns. Currently John is focused on sharing the innovative work of Life Lab through communications, educator professional development, and networking across the state and nation. John attended UC San Diego and has a BA in Biological Anthropology. At home John tends a small flock of hens, a mini orchard, and a cut flower/vegetable garden with his wife and son. Read more about John.
Whitney Cohen is a teacher, trainer, and author with tremendous commitment to, and expertise in, place-based education; student-led inquiry; strategies for engaging a diverse student population; school gardens; and the intersection between environmental education, Common Core and Next Generation academic content standards, and the public school system. As the Education Director at Life Lab, Whitney leads educator workshops nationwide and has written and contributed to various activity guides, including The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids, The Growing Classroom, and The Soil Story Curriculum. Whitney is also a lecturer at UC Santa Cruz where she teaches a course on environmental education. Whitney received her MA in Education from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2002 and her BA in Sustainable Community Development from Vassar College in 1999. Prior to working with Life Lab, Whitney taught Earth, Life, and Physical Science and Introductory Spanish for five years in a low income, public middle school. At this school, Whitney worked with the local community to create a school garden and a watershed adoption project. In addition to classroom teaching, Whitney has worked in environmental education and public health in California, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Read more about Whitney.
Emily Mastellone-Snyder – Associate Director of Development – 831-459-3833 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hailing from a tiny town in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts, Emily grew up exploring forests and playing in the garden. She attended Skidmore College in upstate NY, where she studied Sociology and Environmental Studies. California beckoned, and Emily worked for four years as a teacher naturalist at outdoor environmental education programs along the Central Coast. Emily also directed a bilingual teen center in Davenport, CA. When not teaching, Emily is drawn to the earth and she has worked on several organic farms. In 2009, she received a certificate in Ecological Horticulture through the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. Emily loves incorporating music into her teaching and is fluent in Spanish. She enjoys backpacking, hiking, riding her bike, growing and cooking good food, and practicing yoga. She excitedly joined the Life Lab team in 2012 as the Garden Educator, running our Wildlands and Watering Cans Summer Camp, as well as a variety of field trips throughout the school-year. Read more about Emily.
Liz came to Life Lab in December 2017 to work as development associate. She has a BA in Literature from UCSC. Over the last 20 years she has explored a variety of administrative work. She gradually found herself fundraising for schools and leading finance departments for farmers and lovers of good food and drink. All paths in her life lead to a love of children, nature, food and farming. In her free time you can find her sailing in the Monterey Bay.
Amber Turpin was fortunate enough to grow up in a garden. Since then, she has dedicated most of her efforts towards the good food movement, promoting access to ethical, delicious, and pure food for all. From freelance food writing, working as Office Manager for Slow Food Nation, starting an artisan cookie company, or pulling weeds on her small farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Amber lends a diverse passion for all things food to her work at Life Lab. Read more about Amber
It was such a pleasure reconnecting with all the garden educators from the Santa Cruz area yesterday. You all are doing an incredible job! We hoped that you all had a great time sharing your experience in working at your school’s garden. We look forward to seeing you very soon!
If were not able to make it to yesterdays Garden Educator Gathering, please sign up for our mailing list so you can keep up to date with all of our events. We have some really exciting 40th celebrations coming soon.
Thank you to all the educators that came out and participated in our Intro to NGSS workshop. It was great meeting all of you. An extra special thank you to Edible Schoolyard Japan (エディブル・スクールヤード・ジャパン) for coming all the way from Japan to be a part of our workshop!
Life Lab is hiring an Educator Training Specialist!!!
We are looking for an individual who is personable, approachable, and flexible nature; that has outstanding teaching and organizational skills.
Life Lab’s Educator Training Specialist will manage our on- and off-site educator workshops and lead some of our workshops. Tasks will include:
• Offsite Workshop Coordination • Onsite Workshop Coordination • Lead Educator Workshops • Curriculum Development
Key Qualities of the Educator Training Specialist are:
• a deep commitment to the mission of Life Lab, which is to cultivate children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education • cross-cultural competency, with a deep commitment to equity and inclusion in education • outstanding teaching skills • 3 or more years of experience teaching children in a school garden or other outdoor education setting • experience leading trainings for educators or other adult learners
If this sounds like a job made just for you please click here for more details.
Looking for ideas to keep your school gardens tended and active during the summer? Are you thinking of new ways to bring garden-based learning to a community garden or farm site? Join us for a webinar on the ins and outs of running kids day camp programs on educational gardens.
Erin Jackson, Education Director at Gallatin Valley Farm to School, and Amy Carlson, Garden Education Director at Life Lab, will share their years of experience and resources for creating day camp programs.
From promotions to post assessments and everything in between, this hour long webinar will provide you with inspiration and ideas to create or enhance summer programming on your educational garden or farm.
On this #ThankfulThursday, we want to spotlight the REAL Food in Schools Collaborative with Life Lab and Mt. Diablo Unified School District! The Collaborative is a public-nonprofit team integrating hands-on garden, nutrition and cooking education and REAL Certified healthy school food to support lifelong wellness and achievement for 32,000 students in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District of Contra Costa County, California. #EatREAL #KnowYourFood #HealthySchools
Are you a teacher? Do you struggle teaching about food and nutrition in your classroom? The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy wants to give you the tools and confidence you need to bring this seemingly complicated topic to life, through a NEW online summer course: Teaching Food & Nutrition For All.
Thanks Christine at KidsGardening.org for sharing a good winter time lesson from The Growing Classroom.Christine shares a hands-on garden planning lesson using mapping, math, and scale drawing skills from one of our best-known resources, The Growing Classroom!… … See MoreSee Less
Last week we were thrilled to have garden educators from around the country collaborate at our School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute.
Will you apply next year? Pictures (and smiles) tell it better than our words can.
Thank you all for participating!Kristen and Kat spent last week at the School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute hosted by Life Lab in Santa Cruz, California. The institute provided the opportunity for us to learn best practices in networking, sustainability, evaluation, school standards, and more from school garden organizations from all over the country. We also got to visit some truly dreamy and fully-integrated school gardens. We can’t wait to share our BIG goals and vision for OKC Harvest with you! … See MoreSee Less
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.