Plants of Concern Research Assistant - Forest Preserves of Cook County

Requisition Number: 
Plant Science and Conservation
Job Status: 
Reports to: 
Manager, Plants of Concern
This eight-month, 35-hour-per-week position involves monitoring rare plants in the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) through the Plants of Concern (POC) program, a widely recognized community science program. The position is based at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Duties include collecting field-monitoring data, helping recruit and train volunteer monitors, entering/analyzing monitoring data including GIS applications, and assisting with reports. The research assistant will have the opportunity to present accomplished work at Plants of Concern volunteer and advisory group events. Two to three days of weekend work may be included. This seasonal position is anticipated to start in mid-April 2021.
Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

April through September  

  • Develop schedule for fieldwork.
  • Recruit, engage, train, organize, and support community science volunteers.
  • Act as liaison between FPCC ecologists and stewards and POC staff regarding plant locations and volunteer assignments.
  • Conduct rare plant monitoring fieldwork with volunteers and independently within the Cook County Forest Preserve system.
  • Conduct research project as directed by FPCC staff.
  • Organize and enter data.

October through December  

  • Complete data entry and analysis on multiyear dataset (using R statistical software).
  • Follow up with volunteers regarding report submission.
  • Follow up with site stewards on land-management activities.
  • Present accomplishments to FPCC staff at an advisory group meeting.
  • 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 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.
Application Deadline: 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.