The woodland ecologist is responsible for leading ecological restoration, management, and related research activities in the Garden’s woodland habitats, including the McDonald Woods, the Garden’s 100-acre remnant oak woodland. Work with the Garden’s team of ecologists to collaboratively manage natural areas across the Garden. Working with staff in the Garden’s Negaunee Institute for Plant Conservation Science and Action, as well as staff and programs throughout the Garden, the woodland ecologist will also help to develop and support related on-site research, learning, and community engagement activities. This includes ensuring a welcoming and inclusive environment while supervising and mentoring a diverse team of staff, students, and volunteers. Through strategic partnerships, including with the Forest Preserves of Cook County, on whose land the Garden is sited, the woodland ecologist will also help grow the Garden’s role as a leader in efforts to restore, manage, understand, and support sustainable use of woodlands in the region. This is a full-time, salaried position working Monday through Friday.
Duties and Responsibilities:
- MANAGEMENT: Lead efforts to maintain and continue to enhance and adapt management and restoration activities in more than 100 acres of remnant and restored woodlands at the Garden to support species diversity, ecological integrity, and staff and visitor safety. Includes active management of invasive species (including with the use of herbicides), conducting prescribed burns, collecting, seeding, and planting native species, removing or overseeing the removal of dead standing trees, trail maintenance, deer fence maintenance, maintain appearance (litter collection, etc.) associated with woodland roadways and boundaries, and related activities.
- MONITORING: Ensure continued collection and management of long-term data on plant and wildlife species in the Garden’s woodland habitats to measure restoration success and management outcomes. Also work with research staff to develop and implement a plan to synthesize and use these data to address priority management questions and inform future data collection and management efforts.
- RESEARCH: Develop a collaborative research agenda with staff ecologists, Garden scientists, undergraduate and graduate students in the PBC program, and outside collaborators in support of woodland restoration ecology and management at the Garden and regionally.
- LEADERSHIP: Ensure a welcoming and inclusive environment. Directly supervise and mentor woodland restoration technician and co-supervise (with prairie and river ecologist) the assistant ecologist – natural areas. Includes recruitment, payroll/time and effort reporting, performance reviews, personnel matters, and budget development/tracking for the woodland program.
- COMMUNICATIONS: Serve as a point of contact for communications (internal and external) regarding the Garden’s woodland program (including the McDonald Woods) to ensure accuracy and relevance of all communications.
- PLANNING : Support strategic planning, master site planning, and capital projects relating to the Garden’s woodland program that ensure appropriate and sustainable use. Help to identify and secure funding for priority projects related to the woodland program.
- INTERNAL COLLABORATION: Actively collaborate with other Garden departments, including:
- Learning/Engagement and Interpretation to develop and implement programs, classes, and interpretation that help diverse audiences learn about and experience the Garden’s woodlands.
- Horticulture and Collections to manage Garden grounds, particularly related to management of invasive species. This includes communicating about any new species invading natural areas, and sharing expertise related to managing invasive species.
- Volunteer Services to engage volunteers in work related to the woodland program.
- EXTERNAL PARTNERSHIPS: Forge and support strategic external partnerships and engage with community partners to advance regional efforts to:
- Research, manage, and restore woodlands, with a particular emphasis on supporting understory plant species diversity.
- Train and employ the next generation of diverse land managers and researchers, specifically and intentionally inclusive of individuals from groups historically excluded from conservation and land management.
- Make woodlands accessible while supporting their sustainable use by diverse audiences.
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.
- Minimum three years of hands-on experience in natural areas restoration, management, monitoring, and prescribed burning.
- Experience in, or desire to learn, use of chainsaws, ropes, and mechanical devises for safely felling mature, dead, or hazard trees.
- Bachelor’s degree required, M.S. degree in a related field preferred. Experience managing and mentoring staff, as well as volunteers and/or students.
- Commitment to fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment.
- Familiarity with plants of the Chicago region or upper Midwest preferred.
- Ability to key plant species out using a dichotomous key.
- Familiarity with midwestern invasive plant species and management approaches.
- Possess or willing to obtain an Illinois pesticide applicator license and prescribed burning certifications (including Chicago Wilderness Midwest Ecological Prescription Burn Training and State of Illinois Prescribed Burn Manager).
- Mechanical ability to use and do minimum equipment maintenance on tools such as chainsaws, brush cutters, string trimmers, and leaf blowers.
Frequent, standing, walking, bending, listening, speaking, lifting, pushing, including outdoors during inclement weather. Must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds. Licensed driver insurable by the Chicago Botanic Garden.