Plants of Concern Research Assistant – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Requisition Number: 
Plant Science and Conservation
Job Status: 
Reports to: 
Manager, Plants of Concern
As part of a cooperative program with Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Plants of Concern is recruiting for a seasonal research assistant. This seven-month, 35-hour-per-week position involves a suite of studies on rare plants at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, including those restricted to the unique dolomite prairie habitat. The Midewin program is part of a broader Plants of Concern regional rare plant monitoring program. The research assistant will will travel to Midewin, near Joliet, Illinois, and nearby sites for approximately 30 days of fieldwork. The remaining time will be spent at the Chicago Botanic Garden or working remotely from home. Field duties involve recruiting, training, coordinating, and working with volunteers to monitor selected species through demographic study, censusing, sampling, and photopoints. Office duties include data entry and statistical analysis, report writing and GIS applications. The research assistant will have the opportunity to present accomplished work at Plants of Concern volunteer and stakeholder events. Three to four days of weekend work might be included.
Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

May through September  

  • Develop or modify field datasheets.
  • Become oriented to Midewin monitoring sites and familiar with data to be collected.
  • Develop schedule for fieldwork.
  • Recruit, engage, train, organize, and support community science volunteers.
  • Conduct rare plant monitoring fieldwork with volunteers and assist with other Midewin data collection, as necessary.
  • Organize and enter data.

October through December.

  • Complete data entry and analysis on multiyear dataset (using R statistical software)
  • Organize and catalog monitoring and other photos (digital format)
  • Work with supervisor on annual report to submit to granting agency

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:

  • Bachelor of Science in ecology, botany, biological sciences, or related background
  • Plant ID skills, including use of a dichotomous key
  • Field experience in plant monitoring or field research
  • Love of outdoor work
  • Experience with Microsoft Office suite, particularly Excel, Word, and PowerPoint
  • Basic statistical and GIS software experience (R & ArcGIS experience a plus)
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Interest in working with community science volunteers
  • Ability to work well independently as well as on a team
  • Ability to communicate effectively with a large, diverse group of volunteers and staff
  • A driver’s license and access to a personal vehicle
  • Availability for occasional weekend work


Application Deadline: March 21, 2021, or until suitable candidate is found. No phone calls please. For information on how to apply: In addition to the Chicago Botanic Garden application materials, please submit a cover letter that includes why you are interested in this position and briefly outlines relevant experience and a resume including contact information for three references.


Physical Demands: 
Fieldwork involves walking over uneven terrain, or traversing distances of up to two miles while carrying equipment. Bending, stooping, and kneeling are often necessary. Fieldwork may occur during hot weather when insects are active. Office work involves sitting, standing, typing, and using computers and copy machines.
March 21, 2021, or until suitable candidate is found
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.