Lauren has a strong background in science education, having earned a master’s degree in education, a BA in environmental studies, and a BS in marine biology, all from UC Santa Cruz.
Her academic work focused on sustainable agriculture and field-based education. Previously a high school science teacher and garden leader at Sage Hill School in Newport Beach, she took a hiatus from teaching to manage school programs and communal farm spaces at the Ecology Center, a small nonprofit in Orange County.
Eager and ready to get back into teaching, Lauren found herself at home amongst the chickens and fruit trees in the garden. She is excited to share her passion for the natural world with the students of Nueva in her new role as the garden coordinator and lower school science teacher. When she isn’t tending the garden, she spends her time playing ukulele, surfing, or painting.
1. Now that you are getting established in the space, what are some of your major hopes or goals for the garden this year?
I hope to establish the garden as an inspiring community space for all members of the Nueva community. I want students to feel like the garden is their space to learn and grow. In addition, I hope to make some expansions and additions to the garden, including expanding the coop and raising chicks, building a rain garden, developing the outdoor classroom space, transforming the shed into a student-centered space, growing food — and more!
2. In an earlier conversation, you said that viable and authentic entry points for everyone’s curriculum could be found in the garden. What is the most interesting or unique garden or ecology-based project you have worked on with a colleague?
I designed a camp called Design-Build-Sew for kids to explore design and science in the garden. They engaged in foraging for plants and making their own dyes and watercolors, designed and built their own mason jar bee homes, created nature-based art modeled after Andy Goldsworthy, and designed and built their own tree forts.
3. What is a moment, image, or memory from your first month at Nueva that has stuck with you and that you would like to share with the community?
I have really enjoyed harvest days, which take place every Wednesday in the garden. Students have the opportunity to harvest what is abundant and do a seasonal taste test. The big favorites have been the cucumbers and the pears from our tree. This is the one time I see kids excited to eat fruits and veggies and explore the garden in a hunt for all things ripe.
4. What are the learning goals you hope to realize in working with Nueva’s youngest scientists?
Nueva’s youngest scientists are really good at asking questions and exploring. One of my biggest goals is to get them to engage in close, detailed observation, which takes time and a shift in energy.
5. If you could create a new, non-GMO organic fruit or vegetable hybrid, what would it be?
I love mangos and Fuyu persimmons. We could call the hybrid a Manguyu (Mango + Fuyu). It is important to note that this would never happen in nature because these two species are in completely different plant families. Apriums (Apricot + Plum) only happen because they are closely related species of the rose family.
October 27, 2017