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Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens-Native Gardens Horticultural Assistant-Thu, 04/04/2019 - 5:13pm

Native Gardens Horticultural Assistant


Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens
1750 E Beltline Ave SE. Bunker Interpretive Center
Grand Rapids , MI 49546

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Job Details

Job Description 

To assist the Preserve staff with the care and maintenance of the native plant demonstration gardens and propagation and cultivation of native plants for sale and restoration in projects in the Preserve. This includes but is not limited to: routine care (weeding, watering, etc.), removal of invasive plants, assisting with propagation and cultivation of 100+ native plant species, pest and disease monitoring and management, seed collection and processing, retail plant sales, record keeping and data entry, working with volunteers, and keeping spaces clean.

Duties & Responsibilities 

Primary Responsibilities:

Native Garden Management
• Keep the garden beds and pots groomed and tidy per the guidelines of the garden management plan by weeding, removing leaves and debris, deadheading flowers, cutting down grasses, staking droopy plants, etc.
• Use hand tools and equipment to prepare and amend soil and plant plugs and seeds into garden beds.
• Prune trees, shrubs, and vines in accordance with the garden management plan.
• Monitor and remove invasive species as needed.
• Check soil moisture, monitor irrigation system and hand water as needed.
• Monitor pests and diseases and follow appropriate Integrated Pest Management strategies to address issues including vertebrate pest management (deer, voles, rabbits, etc.).
• Assist with record keeping and data collection for the garden management plan.
• Work with and train volunteers in care and maintenance of the gardens and ensure their safety.
• Care and maintain tools and equipment.
• Maintain compost bins.
• Alert Land Manager to structure maintenance issues.

Native Plant Propagation
• Propagate plants in greenhouses including sowing seeds, transplanting seedlings, weeding, watering and monitoring for pests and disease.
• Weed, water, organize and monitoring stock in the native plant enclosures and in glasshouse for pests and disease.
• Assist with seed collection, viability assessment, and storage.
• Learn how to identify native plants of the Great Lakes region as seedlings and as mature plants.
• Assist with record keeping and data collection for ongoing propagation and cultivations projects.
• Work with and train volunteers in plant propagation and seed collection techniques and ensure their safety.
• Assist with research and development of techniques to ensure high germination and growth rates for species as well as maintaining healthy plants.
• Assist with the management/operations of the greenhouse, glasshouse, and native plant nursery enclosures keeping the spaces cleaned and organized, stocked with supplies, and working properly.
• Assist with sale of nursery stock during the summer months.
• Develop outreach materials related to native plants, pollinators, and birds for the native plant sale and gardens.

• Assist visitors to the Native Gardens, Bunker Interpretive Center and the Preserve by welcoming them and answering questions.
• Set up and collect data for a variety of citizen science projects such as Bumblebee Watch, Caterpillar Count, etc.
• Take photos and videos of native plants and their pollinators to be used for a variety of education materials.
• Learn to follow proper safety practices.
• Perform additional duties as requested.

Education and Experience 

Required Skills/Experience/Qualifications:
• Exhibit a willingness, curiosity and an excitement to learn about native plants of the Great Lakes Region, plant propagation, gardening, land management, and the ecology and natural history of the flora and fauna of West Michigan.
• Ability to work both independently and collaboratively.
• Needs to be a self-starter with the ability to take initiative and know when to ask for help.
• Attention to detail and effective follow-through on projects is important.
• Excellent oral and written communication skills. The assistant needs to communicate instructions clearly to volunteers and write detailed notes.
• Competency in using Microsoft Office Suite and Google Apps.
• Prior experience working with hand and power tools (i.e. shovels, rakes, hand saws, pruners, loppers, hammers, string trimmers, rototiller, lawn mowers, etc.)
• Passionate about caring for the natural world and commitment to the Ecosystem Preserve’s mission.

Preferred Skills/Experience/Qualifications:
• This is temporary seasonal job 25 to 35 hours per week. Start date mid to late May. Ending mid August to beginning of September.
• College-level coursework in botany, horticulture, plant taxonomy, plant physiology, environmental science, or previous work experience with native plants.
• Experience taking and editing photos and/or videos for use in publications.
• Familiarity with horticultural practices, nursery operations, landscaping, and/or previous work in a greenhouse, or farm setting.
• Experience working with volunteers.
• A valid driver’s license and the ability to drive automobiles on public roads and highways. Being Calvin certified or be willing to obtain certification as a Calvin “Approved Driver” in order to use college vehicles.

Physical Requirements: The assistant will work in greenhouses, general office setting, and outside in the native gardens and the Preserve. Assistants should be capable of rigorous outdoor work including lifting, digging, weeding, and sustained walking. They must also have tolerance for getting dirty, working in heated greenhouses and outdoors in a variety of weather conditions and exposure to biting insects, poison ivy, thorns, etc. Assistants need to be able to lift at least 30 lbs.

Application Instructions 

Apply online at

Paper applications are not accepted. Applications accepted until April 19, 2019.

Full Name 
Jeanette Henderson