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Research Intern Plants of Concern/Cook County Forest Preserve

Requisition Number: 
Conservation Science
Job Status: 
This 35-week, 35 hour/week position involves monitoring rare plants in the Cook County Forest Preserves through the Plants of Concern (POC) program, a widely recognized citizen 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. Occasional weekend work.
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
  • Helping to recruit and train volunteer monitors
  • Assisting with data entry, management, analysis, and reporting
  • Acting as liaison between FPCC ecologists and stewards with POC staff regarding plant locations and volunteer assignments
  • Presentation of work accomplished

April through September: Attend a POC training workshop. Monitor fieldwork throughout the Cook County Forest Preserve system. Reach out to volunteer stewards at sites where POC monitoring occurs. Help train and provide field support to volunteer monitors as needed. Begin data entry and any analysis projects requested by FPCC. 

October through December: Follow up with volunteers regarding report submission. Follow up with site stewards on land management activities. Enter data and assist POC research assistant in conducting statistical and GIS analysis for presentation to Cook County Forest Preserve staff at an advisory group meeting and in grant reports. Help finalize POC reports. 


Our ideal candidate will have the following: 

  • B.S. in ecology, botany, biological sciences, or related background 
  • Plant identification skills, including use of dichotomous key 
  • Experience in plant monitoring or field research 
  • Experience with all Microsoft Office functions, especially Excel and Access 
  • Basic statistical analysis experience a plus
  • Ability to work well independently as well as on a team 
  • Ability to communicate effectively with a large, diverse group of volunteers and staff
  • Good organizational skills are necessary
  • Personal cell phone needed for field coordination
  • Driver's license required
  • Although a company vehicle is normally available, access to a personal vehicle a plus
  • Licensed driver insurable by the Garden 
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, using computers and copy machines.
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.