Aquatic Plant Harvester Operator

Requisition Number: 
Restoration Ecology - Aquatics
Job Status: 
The Chicago Botanic Garden is looking for a mechanically adept seasonal candidate who has the ability and desire to perform strenuous outdoor work in a variety of inclement weather conditions (e.g. rain, heat, cold) to operate our aquatic plant harvester in summer 2021, and ideally in subsequent years. Located 25 miles north of downtown Chicago, the Garden's 385-acre campus includes 60 acres of lakes. Over the past 20 years, a half-million native aquatic and shoreline plants have been added along 4.5 miles of our lakeshore. To help maintain desirable submerged plant communities and overall lake aesthetics, periodic trimming of excessive submerged vegetation growth and algal mats is conducted. The harvester equipment has underwater blades that cut submerged plant stems and then remove them from the lake via conveyor belts. When the on-board storage area for cut plant material has been filled, the harvester connects to a shore-based conveyor system that offloads the harvester’s cut plants into a dump truck. The cut plant material is then driven to the Garden’s landscape waste processing area where it is converted into mulch. This is a Seasonal position that begins in mid- to late May and will likely continue through early to mid-September. The normal work schedule is Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., although flexibility in schedule and working hours is possible.
Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

  • Operate and provide basic maintenance on the Garden’s aquatic plant harvester and conveyor equipment (new equipment in 2017).

Key Garden competencies/behaviors desired

  • Communicates in a manner that gains the trust and support of others at all levels.
  • Works effectively with others despite differences of opinion and style; builds alliances.
  • Has a tolerance for opposing points of view.
  • Strives for collaboration. Works cooperatively, as a positive contributor to the team.
  • Demonstrates a positive attitude and shows kindness in all workplace interactions.
  • Makes decisions appropriate for level of responsibility.
  • Can effectively adapt to change; can shift gears comfortably; is flexible, and embraces change with a “can-do” attitude.
  • Is self-aware; knows personal strengths and weaknesses; seeks feedback and is open to negative feedback as an opportunity for improvement.
  • Is cool under pressure; can be counted on to hold things together during tough times; can handle stress; is not knocked off balance by the unexpected; is a settling influence during a crisis.
  • Recognizes problems, constructively identifies and articulates solutions.
  • Picks up garbage when it is seen regardless of position.
  • Follows safety guidelines to ensure a safe working environment and consistently demonstrates safe work behaviors.
  • Is welcoming of new hires.



Our ideal candidate will have the following:

  • Mechanical aptitude required, knowledge of diesel engine operation a plus
  • Experience in towing and backing up a trailer
  • Experience navigating boats on water required
  • A strong work ethic and an ability to function independent of continuous supervision
  • A high comfort level being in and around water and an ability to swim should the need arise in an emergency
  • Employee must be comfortable operating diesel and gasoline engines
  • Be a licensed driver with a clean driving record and insurable by the Garden
  • The season for this position begins in mid- to late May and will likely continue through early to mid-September. The normal work schedule is Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., although flexibility in schedule and working hours is possible.  Candidates with an interest and ability to work over a similar time-frame in subsequent years (i.e., beyond 2021) are strongly preferred.
  • In your cover letter, be sure to address your interest in the position and how you meet the qualifications outlined in the position description.
Physical Demands: 
Ability to sit for extended periods of time (i.e., while operating the harvester), ability to board the harvester from the water, ability to bend to remove jammed plant material from the harvester and conveyor, ability to lift and carry 50 pounds, and must be able to work outdoors in all weather conditions.
Why Apply?: 

Come work in a setting that is like no other as you support our mission: We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life. Take the first step toward being one of the employees who make the Garden one of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Apply today. Please note that applicants who do not meet the required qualifications will not be considered.

Disclaimer: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities and qualifications required of personnel so classified.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a M/F, Disabled, and Vet EEO/AA Employer.

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, or basis of disability, or any other federal, state, or local protected class.

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the Chicago Botanic Garden does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its programs or activities, including in employment or admissions. Please call (847) 835-8264 to contact our Title IX coordinator should you have questions or concerns.