Plants of Concern Research Assistant - Entry Level

Requisition Number: 
Conservation Projects
Job Status: 
Reports to: 
Manager, Plants of Concern
This is an entry-level, full-time, Monday to Friday, 40 hour per week position, involves assisting the Plants of Concern program, a widely recognized community science rare plant monitoring program. The office is based at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

  • Collecting field monitoring data
    • Counting or estimating number of individuals in rare plant populations, measuring population areas, recording GPS locations, identifying associate and invasive plants, and identifying threats and management
    • Identifying plants and collecting cover data for floristic quality assessments
  • Helping to recruit, train, and coordinate volunteer monitors
  • Organizing and leading volunteer field events
  • Creating and distributing program communications (newsletter, social media)
  • Entering, managing, and analyzing monitoring data
  • Managing and analyzing spatial data
  • Assisting with reporting to partner agencies and grant funders
  • Presenting work accomplished

January through May. Assist with preparations for landowner meetings across northeastern Illinois, including working with the Plants of Concern database and website to prepare materials and attend meetings.  Help finalize reports to funders and secure permits. Perform data management. Develop field schedule and begin monitoring. 

May through September. Help develop assignments for, and provide support to, volunteer monitors. Organize field outings. Assist with intern supervision. Monitor plants in the field and conduct Rapid Floristic Quality Assessments for project partners.

October through December.  Supervise office volunteers in organizing monitoring data and database development. Enter data and conduct statistical analysis for presentation at an advisory group meeting and in grant reports. Use GIS to map population locations and other spatial data. Help finalize Plants of Concern reports. Contribute to website and database development and maintenance.

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 degree in ecology, botany, biological sciences, or related background.
  • Master’s level coursework or equivalent experience a plus.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Ability to work well independently, as well as on a team. 
  • Ability to communicate effectively with a large, diverse group of volunteers and staff.
  • Plant identification skills, including use of a dichotomous key. 
  • Love of outdoor work. 
  • Experience in plant monitoring or field research. 
  • Experience with the Microsoft Office suite.
  • Basic statistical and GIS software experience (R & ArcGIS experience a plus). 
  • Experience with database software (Access or SQL) a plus. 
  • Ability and willingness to travel within the Chicago region for field and office work.
  • A driver’s license and access to a personal vehicle required.
  • Availability for occasional weekend work.

Application Deadline: May 3, 2021 or until suitable candidate found. No phone calls please  For information on how to apply:

In addition to the Chicago Botanic Garden application materials, please submit
(1) A cover letter that includes why you are interested in this position and briefly outlines relevant experience and (2) A resume, including contact information for three references.

Physical Demands: 
Field work involves traversing steep or otherwise difficult terrain, or traversing distances of up to 2 miles while carrying equipment. Bending, stooping, and kneeling are often necessary. Field work may occur during hot weather when insects are active. Office work involves sitting, standing, typing, and using computers and copy machines.
May 3, 2021
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, 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.