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Director of Education
Category: Education

New England Wild Flower Society
Framingham, Massachusetts

Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013

Director of Education

New England Wild Flower Society

The mission of New England Wild Flower Society is to conserve and promote the region's native plants to ensure healthy, biologically diverse landscapes. Founded in 1900, the Society is the nation's oldest plant conservation organization and a recognized leader in native plant conservation, horticulture, and education. The Society's headquarters, Garden in the Woods, is a renowned native plant botanic garden in Framingham, Massachusetts, that attracts visitors from all over the world. From this base, 25 staff and more than 700 volunteers work throughout New England to monitor and protect rare and endangered plants, collect and preserve seeds to ensure biological diversity, detect and control invasive species, conduct research, and offer a range of educational programs. The Society also operates a native plant nursery at Nasami Farm in western Massachusetts and has eight sanctuaries in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont that are open to the public.
Position Summary
The Director of Education has an exciting opportunity to create a strategic vision for the Society's education programs that builds on both a distinguished record of success and on recent achievements in other core areas, including the completion of a master plan for Garden in the Woods and the launch of Go Botany, an online, interactive tool for teaching botany. S/he will be charged with fully evaluating the department's activities, from the signature certificate programs for adults to the tours for schoolchildren to the mix and format of programs to effectively serve people throughout the region. S/he will also have a leadership role in developing the framework for online education and for a visitor-services team to handle Garden-specific functions, such as guide training, tours, and rentals that are currently in the portfolio of the Education Department. 
The two-person Education Department offers 200 courses, lectures, tours, and field trips per year across New England and contracts with approximately 65 top-notch educators in botany, plant ecology, horticulture, landscape design, and related fields. The staff also recruits, trains, schedules, and fosters a great sense of community among approximately 70 volunteer Garden guides. 
The Director of Education reports to the Executive Director and works collaboratively with the other senior staff to develop, fund, and implement initiatives that advance the Society's mission and enhance its leadership role in the conservation, public horticulture, and environmental education communities.
Primary Responsibilities
  • Develop a long-range vision and comprehensive education plan for the Society built on a thorough assessment of current programs, current and potential audiences, Society goals and initiatives, potential strategic partnerships, and funding opportunities
  • Develop, oversee, and evaluate all education programs for both adults and children; team with professional organizations to offer continuing education and professional development credits where appropriate
  • With senior staff, the Education Committee, and others, define opportunities, format, content, platform, and business model for novel online, interactive, and hybrid courses; explore effective collaborations; and recruit and train appropriate instructors
  • Oversee current certificate programs, which enroll approximately 200 lifelong learners each year; advise students, encourage timely completion of the program, recruit and orient new students, review content of both core and elective courses, and evaluate and document effectiveness of program and benefit to participants
  • Recruit, orient, supervise, and regularly evaluate contracted course instructors
  • Recruit, train, supervise, and regularly evaluate volunteers to serve as adult and children's guides at Garden in the Woods; develop strategy for eventually incorporating these tours into a new visitor-services program
  • Work closely with key staff on developing, funding, and implementing a visitor-services program to oversee activities specifically focused on Garden in the Woods, such as interpretation, guide training and supervision, tours, rentals and events, and room scheduling and setup
  • In cooperation with the Registrar, manage the daily operation of the department, including scheduling teachers, volunteers, interns, and other staff; developing and refining registration procedures; and maintaining up-to-date information about course offerings and events on the Society’s website
  • With Director of Communications, plan and implement online and printed outreach and advertising materials to attract target audiences to programs
  • Actively promote innovative educational initiatives at conferences, public events, invited lectures, and symposia
  • Prepare and administer annual department budget; work with Director of Philanthropy on opportunities for funding core programs and new initiatives.
Skills and Experience
This position requires a visionary, entrepreneurial approach to education's role in nonprofit organizations and demonstrated success in developing, administering, and evaluating education programs in conservation, botany, horticulture, or related disciplines. The ideal candidate will have a basic working knowledge of plant biology and the New England flora as well as experience with classroom and field programs delivered by contract faculty over a wide geographic area. Requirements include:
  • Minimum of 3-5 years of related experience, with increasing responsibility
  • Demonstrated passion for hands-on teaching, particularly about the natural world
  • Familiarity or experience with the unique educational context of lifelong learning programs, such as those offered by museums, nature centers, botanic gardens, and community colleges
  • Experience building successful collaborations with other organizations and institutions, including academic institutions
  • Experience working with the public school system and familiarity with state education requirements
  • Familiarity with a range of educational software and platforms or with online learning programs
  • Fundamentally tech-savvy
  • Ability to multi-task and manage a changing, varied, fast-paced workload
  • Exemplary verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to interact effectively with staff, volunteers, instructors, and partners
  • Successful grant-writing experience.
To Apply
Please submit a letter of interest and resume (MS Word or PDF format, with your last name as part of the file names) to Debbi Edelstein, Executive Director, New England Wild Flower Society, at, using the subject line “Education Director Application.”

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