Budburst Director

Requisition Number: 
Job Status: 
The Chicago Botanic Garden is looking for a creative thinker excited about providing opportunities for the public to engage in authentic research through community science. The Budburst director will lead the transformation of this phenology-based community science project, including app development, regional and national expansion, and research collaborations. The Budburst director will develop an active research portfolio and is expected to produce original peer-reviewed findings with the help of community scientists. The director will also oversee the education and outreach aspects of Budburst, including implementation in schools, natural areas such as parks and forest preserves, and museums and botanic gardens across the country. In this position, you will work with scientists at the Garden and across the country to develop a portfolio of critical ecological research projects that bring researchers, horticulturists, and community scientists together on a shared journey to uncover the stories of plants and animals affected by human impacts on the environment and tell those stories in ways that inspire conservation action. This position is allocated 75 percent education and 25 percent research, with work space available in both departments. The education duties are outlined below. The research time is available for the successful candidate to pursue their own research interests, participate in graduate student supervision, etc.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

  • Lead the Budburst community science program, including strategic direction, development of research projects, and education and community engagement initiatives.
  • Develop, implement, and manage Budburst research projects in collaboration with Garden scientists and outside researchers, including publishing peer-reviewed research findings using data collected by community scientists.
  • Work with research staff to develop additional Budburst research projects to create a portfolio that provides a opportunities to participate in community science that appeal to a range of interests and time frames.
  • Promote Budburst to broad audiences, including developing opportunities for public engagement and collaborations with local and national partners.
  • Oversee the education and outreach aspects of Budburst, including implementation in schools, natural areas such as parks and forest preserves, and museums and botanic gardens across the country.
  • Supervise education manager and community engagement manager.
  • Provide guidance for staff overseeing the day-to-day operations of Budburst and the Community Science Academy (CSA) including website content, research projects and seasonal campaigns, learning resources, data collection, outreach, online course instruction, and promotion.
  • Oversee Budburst social media strategy and presence, including newsletter, Twitter, Facebook etc., in collaboration with the communications department.
  • Work with database manager to ensure the Budburst website and data collection process stay functional and up to date.
  • Develop new strategic partnerships and maintain relationships with existing Budburst partners.
  • Manage a budget of more than $3,000,000.
  • Work with vice president of learning and engagement, and development department to fundraise (government and private foundation grants, individual donors) and steward donors.
  • Participate in other Chicago Botanic Garden education, outreach, and research activities as necessary.

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:


  • Ph.D. in ecology, botany, conservation biology, or related field
  • Experience in science communications, including demonstrated ability to distill and communicate scientific concepts verbally and in writing to a general audience in compelling ways
  • Experience managing national collaborations and projects with multiple and diverse partners
  • Experience working with formal and/or informal education communities including schools, natural areas such as parks and forest preserves, and museums
  • Ability to communicate clearly and effectively with internal and external partners
  • Ability to work independently while being an effective member of an interdisciplinary team
  • Strong problem solving and analytical skills and ability to be detail oriented
  • Proven organizational and time-management skills
  • Expertise in Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), as well as collaboration tools such as Google Drive, Slack, etc.


  • Research focus on plant phenology or ecology
  • Knowledge and experience working with plant-based science observations, data, educational materials, and/or community science initiatives
  • Familiarity with machine learning applications
  • Supervisory experience
  • Budgeting, grant writing, and management experience
  • Spanish language proficiency
  • Fluency with current generation social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, etc.) to create community and engage participants in desired activities


Physical Demands: 
Primarily office setting, with some fieldwork required. Frequent sitting, standing, walking, bending, listening, speaking, and keyboarding. Use of office equipment including computers, telephones, copiers, scanners, and fax machines. Some requirements for lifting, pushing, or pulling items up to 30 pounds. Some requirements for active outdoor gardening and teacher activities, including digging, planting, and shoveling.
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.

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, and 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.