Plant Breeding Intern - Temporary (2 positions)

Lisle, IL
Full Time

The Collections department is seeking two plant breeding interns; one is for a duration of 6 months and the second is for a duration of 9 months. 

  • The 6-month intern will be assigned to a specific grant funded project in collaboration with North Dakota State University that will include working on a maple propagation experiment.
  • The 9-month intern will work with the New Plant Development Program and the Plant Health Care Program on elm breeding related projects.

Please specify for which internship you would like to be considered in the survey that will be sent upon completion of your application.

Position Summary: Support the New Plant Development program by assisting with plant breeding projects, plant propagation, and data collection. Complete and present a summary of an independent project that contributes to departmental and institutional goals.

Essential Functions: 

  • Participate in plant breeding related activities included but not limited to controlled crosses, seed collecting, seed cleaning, and plant propagation.

  • Transplant seedlings, plugs, and containerized plants in greenhouse and field nursery production.

  • Assist with laboratory work including plant tissue culture, flow cytometry, and microscopy.

  • Assist in data collection for research and breeding projects.

  • Maintain New Plant Development program plant collections through proper cultural practices including labeling, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and weeding in greenhouse and field nursery production.

  • Ensure safety and cleanliness of assigned laboratory and research sites.

  • Operate, calibrate, and maintain laboratory/field instruments and equipment in order to ensure proper functioning, accuracy, and compliance with written specifications. 

  • Complete and present an assigned project related to the New Plant Development program.

  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications: Current enrollment or completion in Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree program in horticulture, plant sciences or related fields preferred. Completed coursework and/or experience in woody landscape plant identification preferred. Interest in pursuing a career in public horticulture, nursery industry, or plant breeding. Organizational and communication skills required.

Success Factors: Enthusiastic, curious, and passionate about plants. Keen observer with attention to detail. Self-motivated with the ability to work independently. Organizational and communication skills. Ability to work outdoors in all weather conditions. 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 30 lbs.), climbing (up to 12 ft.), bending. Ability to travel around the Arboretum on paved, wood-chipped, and dirt paths over varied and uneven terrain, in various weather conditions. Ability to hike for extended periods of time. Some travel may be required.

  • Work Environment: Work is performed in a combined indoors and outdoors setting. Housing assistance may be available. 

  • Equipment: General office equipment, general hand gardening tools, general laboratory equipment, hand power tools.

The starting rate for this position is $16.00/hour.
For full consideration, please submit a resume and cover letter with application.


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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If you have questions, please contact jobs@mortonarb.org