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Assistant Horticulturalist

Requisition Number: 
Job Status: 
The assistant horticulturist for the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition works closely with Interpretive Programs staff in the exhibition structure to maintain the plants and butterflies and to facilitate the visitor experience during public hours. The assistant horticulturist also works with the Horticulture department and Visitor Services. The assistant horticulturist may also assist with the installation of plantings in the exhibition and setting up the pupa room. Weekend and holiday hours required.
Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

  • Perform general landscape installation (pre-exhibition opening) and ongoing maintenance tasks including watering, weeding, grooming, removing debris, path raking, fertilizing, and monitoring for plant health issues.
  • Care for the living butterfly collection by collecting and properly disposing of any caterpillars and dead butterflies, morning and afternoon releases of adult butterflies, and daily monitoring for pupae diseases and health of the adults. Collect, purchase, and prepare supplemental diets and monitor level of natural nectar sources. Replace as needed.
  • Comply with all USDA containment requirements and ensure that all workers follow proper procedures. Report all inconsistencies to the Plant Health Care supervisor.
  • Report all escaped butterflies/moths and plant, pupae, and butterfly disease and pest problems to the Plant Health Care supervisor.
  • Oversee and coordinate activities of plant and butterfly care volunteers.
  • Monitor the number and variety of species (adult butterflies, pupae, and plants) in the exhibition. Update exhibition signage and provide species identification for volunteers and visitors.
  • Interact daily with staff, volunteers, and the public. Speak to a wide variety of visitors, and answer questions from volunteers and visitors about the exhibition and butterfly gardening.
  • Assist with weekly replacement pupae orders and shipments. Receive weekly orders and maintain accurate shipment records. Mount and label pupae in emergence chamber.
  • Work with Interpretive Programs to staff interpretive positions and doors as needed to provide breaks and to cover for unexpected absences of scheduled staff and volunteers.
  • Maintain a high level of computer literacy for purposes of interdepartmental documentation and communication.
  • Assist with special exhibition programs, tours, or events as needed.

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: 

  • Successfully led a volunteer group in maintaining the garden.
  • Completed a horticulture training program or taken classes in gardening with experience in landscape maintenance and installation.
  • Completed some undergraduate or graduate studies in biology or entomology, or have a degree in any of the life sciences, and have a desire to learn about the life cycle and handling of butterflies.
  • A valid driver’s license and insurable by the Chicago Horticultural Society.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Able to and comfortable in responding to visitor questions.
  • A high energy level and passion for working with the public.
  • Excellent leadership, organizational, and communication skills.
  • Candidate should be available to work May through mid-September.
  • Availability on both weekdays and weekends.
  • An enthusiastic interest in working with volunteers.
  • The ideal candidate will be flexible, able to work in a fast-paced environment, and possess exceptional interpersonal skills. The ability to work both independently and as part of a team is essential. 
Physical Demands: 
Position requires extensive periods of walking and standing with light lifting/pushing (up to approximately 20 pounds). Most of the work is conducted outside, rain or shine.
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.

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.