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Aquatic Plant Harvester Operator

Requisition Number: 
Aquatics - Restoration Ecology
Job Status: 
The Garden's 60 acres of lakes benefit from periodic "mowing" to help keep submerged aquatic vegetation and surface algae mats in check. The Chicago Botanic Garden is looking for an energetic, mechanically adept, seasonal employee to operate our aquatic plant harvester in summer 2018, and ideally in subsequent years as well.

Located 25 miles north of downtown Chicago, the Garden's 385-acre campus includes 60 acres of lakes. Over the past 17 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 removes 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 to mulch. 

Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for operating and providing basic maintenance on the Garden's aquatic plant harvester and conveyor equipment. The equipment was brand new in 2017. 


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 without 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 2018 employment term for this position begins in mid- to late May and will likely continue through early September. The normal work schedule is Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., although flexibility in schedule and working hours is possible. Candidates with an interest and ability to work over a similar timeframe in subsequent years (i.e., beyond 2018) are strongly preferred. 
  • When you submit your application, please be sure to also include a detailed letter of introduction. 
Physical Demands: 
Ability to sit for extended periods of time (while operating the harvester), ability to board the harvester from the water, 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.