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Manager, Interpretive Programs

Requisition Number: 
Interpretive Programs
Job Status: 
This position oversees and manages a broad range of mission-based interpretive programs and a live butterfly exhibit for the Garden’s visitors. Volunteer management is an essential role of this position.

Through a variety of informal program formats, interpretive programs connect and engage visitors with the horticulture, science, and nature found at the Garden. Most of these programs rely on volunteer support. The Manager, Interpretive Programs, provides primary recruitment, training, ongoing direction, and support to the year-round group of Interpretive Programs volunteers and a team of paid, seasonal staff. The Manager also helps develop and implement year-round program schedule.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

  • Apply best practices and knowledge of learning theory, informal education, volunteer and staff management protocol to plan, develop, and implement interpretive programs including:
    • Volunteer-led Discovery Programs in the Arid Greenhouse, English Walled Garden, Fruit & Vegetable Garden, and Japanese Garden.
    • Manage operation of seasonal Butterflies & Blooms exhibition to ensure staffing (volunteer and paid) meets USDA regulations.
  • Assess volunteer needs on an ongoing basis and manage recruitment, interviewing, and training. Develop volunteer retention program that includes continuing education and enrichment opportunities. Work closely with Volunteer Services for volunteer needs and planning.
  • Perform managerial duties of hiring, training, monitoring, and evaluating performance.
  • Manage Garden Chef Series including booking and following up with scheduled chefs; work with Communications on signage and print pieces; work closely with Corporate Relations on fulfilling and managing sponsor requirements.
  • Work with departmental and interdepartmental teams on a variety of additional interpretive programs including science festival programming, book discussions, woods walks, themed weekends at the Fruit & Vegetable Garden, and Super Seed Weekend.
  • Provide special attention to the upkeep and maintenance needs of the Shoin House in the Japanese Garden; work with Construction/Maintenance on various projects to uphold the museum-quality of the structure.
  • Serve as an institutional resource for touring special groups or donor visits to interpretive garden areas.
  • Build close working relationships with horticulturists in interpretive garden areas to ensure program success.
  • Complete administrative responsibilities related to the position. Maintain program statistics and prepare reports as needed. Contribute to development of multi-year strategic plans and annual operating plans/budgets.
  • Keep current with education/programming as well as volunteer trends and practices by participating in professional meetings and conferences.
  • Support new Garden programs and initiatives; assist with other projects and duties as assigned to support Interpretive Programs and the Learning and Engagement Division.

Key Garden Competencies/Behaviors Desired

  • Picks up garbage when it is seen regardless of position.
  • Effective communication: communicates in a manner that gains the trust and support of others at all levels.
  • Ability to build alliances: works effectively with others despite differences of opinion and style.
  • 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.
  • 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:

  •  B.S. or B.A. degree in museum studies, education, recreation, environmental studies/life sciences or related field. Master’s degree preferred.
  • A minimum of three years’ experience in volunteer management/program development and implementation, preferably in an informal, outdoor, or museum setting.
  • Ability to work independently, demonstrate attention to detail and manage multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Experience in hiring, training, and leading staff.
  • Experience with program development, implementation, and evaluation.
  • A combination of cultural and/or plant science and educational knowledge (plus interest in learning additional subject matter) and its application in informal education settings is ideal.
  • Skilled with basic computer office software is required.
  • Ability to work a Wednesday through Sunday schedule (mid-April through early-October with select weekend work the remainder of the year); Monday through Friday work week primarily remainder of the year.
Physical Demands: 
This job requires a mix of office work (including computer keyboarding) and “on the floor” work around the Garden. Candidate must be able to work inside or outside, sitting or standing/walking/bending in varied weather conditions and on all types of terrain (paved, wood-chipped, lawn, and other garden surfaces). Excellent listening and speaking skills. Use of office equipment including computers, telephones, copiers, and scanners, and use of home-scale kitchen equipment (ovens, cook-top, dishwasher) for Garden Chef Series. Some requirements for lifting, pushing, or pulling items (especially program signage/opening and closing demonstration kitchen windows) less than 30 pounds.
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, 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.