Life Lab

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



Fall Opportunities    Winter Opportunities    Spring Opportunities    Summer Opportunities 

Year-round Organic Gardening Internships at the Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm – Just want to get your hands dirty and learn about organic gardening? email Jennifer at garden@lifelab.org

Come celebrate the harvest, make a difference at a local school, enjoy the outdoors with kids, and get school credit!
Multiple programs available: combine teaching with gardening, take on a special project!

All our interns receive training in garden-based environmental education, working with children, concepts in organic gardening & farming, games, songs, and much more!

2 UCSC credits available with 6 internship hours per week, 5 UCSC credits available with 12-14 internship hours per week. Credit can be earned through other institutions as well. Learn more about earning credit.

Spring Opportunities

Science Exploration at the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm

Lead groups of elementary schoolers on hands-on science investigations in the Life Lab Garden Classroom and explorations of the UCSC Farm.
When: Spring UCSC Quarter, Mon or Tues, 9:00-2:00
More program information  Contact Amy at amy@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

Seeds of Wonder Field Trips

Lead groups of pre-schoolers and Kindergarteners in hands-on garden explorations in the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm on Wednesday from 8:30-1:45.
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

Blooming Classroom Field Trips in Watsonville – transportation provided from the UCSC Farm

Lead groups of 3rd-5th graders in hands-on science and nutrition investigations at Life Lab’s Blooming Classroom site in Watsonville on Tuesdays from 1:00-6:00 and/or Thursdays or Fridays from 8:30-2:00.
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

Garden Crew – transportation provided

Wednesdays 8:30am – 2pm. Get your hands in the dirt at our Garden Classroom site on the UCSC Farm and at school gardens in Watsonville! (Transportation provided from the UCSC Farm on Watsonville days)
Grow your gardening skills, learn the basics of garden design and elements of a child-friendly garden, and work with kids in school gardens. Learn more and apply at www.lifelab.org/school-garden-crew/

Summer Internships/Volunteer Opportunities

Interns assist with our garden-based summer camps. Work with our counselors to make camp happen! Assist with teaching camp activities, leading hikes, and behind-the-scenes tasks such as setting up stations and stocking materials. Gain valuable experience in environmental education!

Garden Sprouts Camp (for 4-6 year olds) Come explore the garden and farm with us! Our camp days will include harvesting, making garden snacks, singing, storytelling, garden caretaking, garden crafts, and investigation of the natural world. Each day has a theme (past examples: Bugs, Seeds, Chickens & Eggs).

Wildlands & Watering Cans Camp (for 7-11 year olds) Come explore, harvest, prepare and enjoy fresh food from the farm, hike, create garden crafts, art, and music, play games, and form new friendships! Each day has a theme (past examples: Bug Day, Solar Energy Day, Chickens & Eggs Day) and each day begins with farm chores (Chickens, Fresh Fruit Popsicle-making, Farm Update, and Weather Report) and ends with storytelling under the walnut tree. The last Friday afternoon of each session families join us for a kid- harvested Farmer’s Market Party.

Interns receive training in: Garden-based environmental education, working with children in an outdoor setting, positive discipline, games, songs, activities, and much more!

For more information contact Amy at 831.459.4035, amy@lifelab.org.

Fall Opportunities

Farm to Fork Field Trips at the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm

Lead groups of elementary schoolers on hands-on harvest celebrations on the UCSC farm and Life Lab Garden Classroom.
When: Fall UCSC Quarter, Mon or Tues, 9:00-2:00
More program information  Contact Amy at amy@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

Seeds of Wonder Field Trips

Lead groups of pre-schoolers and Kindergarteners in hands-on garden explorations in the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm on Wednesday from 8:30-1:45.
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

Blooming Classroom Field Trips in Watsonville – Carpooling can be arranged; transportation provided from the UCSC Farm

Lead groups of 3rd-5th graders in hands-on science and nutrition investigations at Life Lab’s Blooming Classroom site in Watsonville on Tuesdays from 1:00-6:00 and/or Thursdays or Fridays from 8:30-2:00.
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

Garden Crew – transportation provided

Wednesdays 9am – 2pm. Get your hands in the dirt at our Garden Classroom site on the UCSC Farm and at school gardens in Watsonville! (Transportation provided from the UCSC Farm on Watsonville days)
Grow your gardening skills, learn the basics of garden design and elements of a child-friendly garden, and work with kids in school gardens. Learn more and apply at www.lifelab.org/school-garden-crew/

Winter Opportunities

Blooming Classroom Field Trips in Watsonville – transportation provided from the UCSC Farm

Lead groups of 3rd-5th graders in hands-on science and nutrition investigations at Life Lab’s Blooming Classroom site in Watsonville on Tuesdays from 1:00-6:00 and/or Thursdays or Fridays from 8:30-2:00.
More program information  Contact Cara at cara@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

Feeling Fine with Fresh Foods at the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm

Lead groups 3rd-5th graders in hands-on cooking and nutrition investigations in the Life Lab Garden Classroom and on the UCSC Farm.
When: Jan-March, Tuesdays 9:00-2:00
More program information  Contact Amy at amy@lifelab.org or 831.459.4035

Kids Cook – Classroom Cooking

Our Kids Cook program teaches 3rd-5th grade classes about nutrition and healthy food choices in Watsonville Elementary Schools. You need your own transportation.

Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays 9am-2pm (less hours per day also an option)
Contact Aisling Mitchell at aisling@lifelab.org

How To Get College Credit

See Environmental Studies DepartmentCommunity Studies Field Program or Independent Study for more on getting UCSC credit as a Life Lab intern. We also serve interns from other institutions such as Cabrillo Work Experience and CSUMB Service Learning, as well as non-student volunteers.

Quotes From Past Interns

“Interning at Life Lab was one of my favorite experiences at UCSC. The kids, the staff and the atmosphere are unparalleled. You don’t know how much I regretted finding out about Life Lab during my final year; I would have been there starting freshman year if I had known. You won’t find a better place to be anywhere on campus.”

“I just wanted to write and express my thanks to all of you. I just applied and was offered the position of Garden Education Manager at Harding Elementary School in Santa Barbara. This position is honestly a dream come true and I know I couldn’t have made it here without the knowledge and support I received from all of you. I hope the gardens I help to build and create over the next 2 years bring even a fraction of the wonder and joy that the Life Lab Science Program and garden has brought to it’s visiting students and interns.  Thank you! All the best!

– Emma Hodges, 2010

“I just wanted to thank you so much for all the encouragement and wisdom you have passed my way. I did end up getting a job with Playworks, a non profit organization that energizes classroom learning through safe, healthy, and inclusive play out on the recess yard. I’m also running a leadership program with 35 4th & 5th graders and an after school enrichment program with 15 students. I can not tell you how helpful it is to draw back on all my previous experience with kids. Life Lab does such a wonderful job of sustaining an entire quarter’s worth of action and reflection. – Rachel Evernden, 2010

“Introducing kids to the many faces of Mother Nature during my Life Lab internship at the UCSC farm made college a holistic experience, grounded on nutrient-rich, compost earth; there is nothing more fufilling than nurturing the bonds between the next generation and permaculture. Kids with a connection to dirt and bugs and our food sources are kids that are going to make a paradigm shift in the modern ecological idiom from a planet in environmental degradation to a happenin’ biodiverse party in our bubble.”

– Molly McCalla, Anthropology 2002-2005

“Life Lab was a great opportunity for me to close my books for a while, leave the library and get outside to spend interactive time with kids! Life lab helped balance my time at UCSC and gave me the opportunity to witness the growth I was going through by being in college. It was a fun way to continue learning, but it gave me a chance to practice using my skills that I will need post-graduation! Thanks Life Lab!”

– Vanessa Shaw, Community Studies Class of 2006

“Life Lab was one of the most fun things I did in Santa Cruz, I wish I’d known about it earlier. I probably would have tried to be there every quarter!”

– Milli Chennell, History and Environmental Studies Double Major, 2000-2004

Read about the impact our program has had on our interns

The UCSC Farm offers the following Farming, Gardening, and Food System Opportunities

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3 days ago

Life Lab

As we all navigate the dynamics of distance learning education, Life Lab would like to offer support.

Check out our website Lifelab.org/Covid-19/ for resources outlining the potential for outdoor learning spaces to provide "extra “classroom” space; allow for social distancing; and provide strategic and cost-effective tools for improving academic, mental and physical well being. #outdoorlearningspaces #outdooreducation #schoolgardens #lifelab #notallclassroomshavefourwalls #livinglaboratory #socialemotionallearning See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Today’s Thankful Thursday shout out goes to our @pajarovalleyusd Partner Schools: Hall District Elementary, H. A. Hyde Elementary, Starlight Elementary, Amesti Elementary, Ohlone Elementary, Ann Soldo Elementary, & McQuiddy Elementary🌱We look forward to another school year of bringing learning to life through nature based education🌻#schoolgardens #lifelab #thankfulthursday #nature #education See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Change is good and delicious #Blackberry #schoolgardens #outdoorlearning #LifeLab #gardeneducation See MoreSee Less

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4 weeks ago

Life Lab

We are grateful for the continued support from @newleafcmarket Life Lab is honored to have been chosen as a community non-profit benefactor of their Bloom Wellness products that are all organic, non-GMO, & gluten free. Our partnership reflects New Leaf Community Markets’ core values of education, environmental stewardship, and nutrition. #thankyouthursday #schoolgardens #lifelab #newleafcommunitymarket #gardensofgratitude See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

🌱Moment of the Month🌱

Life Lab Summer Camps are always a beautiful and nurturing way to share the interconnections of nature with children. Although our campers could not join us in the Life Lab Garden Classroom this summer, we wanted to make it possible for them to have fun at home! So our camp team assembled Summer Activity Care Packages full of materials, recipes, and advice for 225 children who had already registered for camp. They then carefully and lovingly hand delivered them to each family, occasionally getting to say Hi! from a safe distance, too.

"Thank you so much!! I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for pooling your ideas together for non-screen fun and learning opportunities. We can’t wait to dive in!
With much gratitude,"
Ellie

We are grateful to each and every camp family for their kindness, generosity, and patience as we all navigated the new realities of this year. As a community, the camp families even donated more than $12,000 of their camp fees towards ensuring that Life Lab will continue cultivating children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education during this challenging time.

While we cannot deliver care packages to everyone in our broader Life Lab community, we hope that our growing BackPocketLearning.org website will help families seeking simple, fun, nature based activities and healthy family recipes to enjoy together at home this summer!🌈🐝🌻🌞

#lifelabmomentofthemonth #mylifelab #lifelab #summercamp #summerfun #gardenbasededucation #gardenlife #garden See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

Our “Share Your Garden Saturday” video series continues with a sweet share from Emma Christie in the Life Lab garden at Starlight Elementary School in Watsonville🌸#shareyourgaredLL #school gardens PVUSD Food & Nutrition Services #LifeLab AmeriCorps See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

In love with our @reneesgardenseeds flowers❤️thank you Renee for years of support & providing seeds for Life Lab gardens. We appreciate you! #reneesgardenseeds #lifelab #outdooreducation #gardensofgratitude #schoolgardens See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

“Education is a practice of Freedom” #emancipation #juneteenth #americanhistory #blackhistory #teachablemoments See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Happy National Eat Your Veggies Day!😋🥕

To celebrate today we wanted to share some of our impacts this past school year. In our seven PVUSD Partner Elementary Schools, 98% of kindergarten, 1st and 2nd teachers reported that the Fall 2019 NGSS in the Garden programs improved their 1,900 students’ attitudes towards fresh fruits and vegetables, their emotional well-being, and their connection with nature.

Our Kids Cook presentation brought exciting hands-on cooking and healthy eating to more than 1,500 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at these schools, too, in January, February and March. In tastings surveys 72% of the children reported liking or loving the fresh, healthful foods they ate, with 63% said they were trying a new fresh produce item for the first time.

278 second-graders from our partner schools enjoyed hands-on learning in field trips to our Blooming Classroom this school year. 59% reported tasting new healthy food items for the first time in lesson-based tastings, and 70% said they loved or liked what they tasted.

We would also like to remind you to eat a rainbow 🌈🥗

A diverse and colorful diet nourishes a strong and healthy body. All fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. In addition, they contain phytonutrients, which give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors and also play a wide range of roles in keeping our bodies healthy.

Thank you to our partners and sponsors for making this work possible. @sagegardenproject @pvhealth @pajarovalleyusd
@unfi @foodcorps

#eatyourveggies #EatYourVegetablesDay #mylifelab #vegetables See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

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Stock up your Garden Classroom

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
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