Tree and Shrub Breeder - Full-time

Lisle, IL
Full Time


Position Summary:  Manage and maintain the lab and growing operations of the Daniel P. Haerther Charitable Trust New Plant Development Program with a focus on breeding and research of woody landscape plants for urban and suburban environments. Work with the Curator of Collections and Manager of New Plant Development in the selection and evaluation of woody landscape plants to be introduced to the commercial nursery industry. Collaborate with external partners and stakeholders to introduce new cultivars with broad adaptability, disease and pest resistance to the commercial nursery and landscape industries.

Essential Functions: 

  • Conduct breeding and horticulture research with the objective to develop new trees and shrubs well adapted to urban and suburban landscape conditions. 

  • Work with the Curator of Collections and Manager of New Plant Development Program in evaluating potential plants from Arboretum collections, collections of other public and private gardens, commercial nurseries, and other sources for possible introduction or for further improvement.

  • Participate on the Chicagoland Grows® Plant Introduction Program’s Woody Plant Committee in selecting and developing new plants to be introduced to the commercial industry. 

  • Identify and acquire new germplasm that has potential for the New Plant Development Program through collecting expeditions or other sources.

  • Stay informed regarding research and scientific advancements in the field and incorporate techniques that may be required in tree breeding and improvement. Network and participate in collaborative activities with industry professionals.

  • Share New Plant Development Program breeding and research activities and plant introductions with various audiences through publications, media contacts, and public speaking

  • Develop and execute collaborative projects with Arboretum and external researchers and professionals.

  • Manage program budget, and seek grants and other funding for priority projects.

  • Supervise plant breeding interns and volunteers. Duties include recruitment and selection, scheduling and job assignments, performance feedback, recognition, and staff development and training in keeping with the Arboretum’s policies and procedures. 

  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications: Master’s degree in horticulture, botany, forestry, or related field required. 3+ years of practical experience preferred. Knowledge of woody plant breeding, propagation, and production practices, as well as basic disease and insect pest problems required. Knowledge of flow cytometry, cytology, microscopy, and in vitro plant propagation and experimentation preferred. Excellent knowledge of woody plants that are native to the temperate regions of the world required.Strong written and oral communication skills required. Must possess a valid driver’s license, which is subject to insurability and an annual Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) report. Proficiency with Microsoft Office and Google applications beneficial. 

Success Factors: Keen and demonstrated interest in woody landscape plants and their introduction into the nursery and landscape industries. Ability to discern superior characteristics among a large group of plants. Thorough knowledge of plant breeding principles. Physically able to observe plants in collections and plant production facilities. Strong collaborative skills. Ability to embrace and align with the organization’s employee core values to be inclusive, take ownership, work together, keep learning and make the Arboretum exceptional.

Physical Demands and Work Environment: The physical demands and work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform these essential functions.

  • Physical Demands: Requires some physical activity: limited lifting and carrying (up to 40 lbs.), climbing (up to 8 ft.), walking over varied terrain, some local and national travel. Vision in the normal visual range with or without correction. 

  • Work Environment: Office environment and Arboretum grounds. Work is performed indoors and outdoors, in a variety of weather conditions. This position is designated as a hybrid-eligible position, allowing for some work to be performed off premise, during regular hours of work.

  • Equipment: General office equipment, field and laboratory equipment, including specialized equipment relating to particular field of research.

For full consideration, please submit a cover letter and resume

All Arboretum employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of that status in order to maintain their employment.

The Morton Arboretum is a champion of diversity, supporting a culture of inclusion that attracts, inspires, and engages people to achieve success. The Arboretum is committed to hire and develop employees based on job-related qualifications irrespective of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, or veteran status. To increase diversity in professions related to the public garden realm, we encourage applications from underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and veterans.  

The Morton Arboretum is dedicated to complying with our obligations as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All applicants are guaranteed equal consideration for employment. 

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