Forestry Trainee

Are you looking for a unique way to give back to the planet? Are you interested in learning about careers in conservation while getting paid to work outside? Would you like to meet and work with people from all over Chicago? Openlands is seeking two to four Forestry Trainees for a program that provides valuable skills that could lead to a long-term career in arboriculture or conservation.

Trainees will work on the Forestry Field Crew and maintain over 2,000 trees by mulching, watering, pruning and conducting other maintenance activities across the Chicago area.  They will collaborate with a team of arborists to assist in community tree plantings with TreeKeepers, neighborhood leaders, volunteers, and other groups for the success of Openlands various urban forestry and community programs.  Educational opportunities will teach trainees hands-on skills, tree biology and identification, pests and diseases, among other subjects.


Minimum requirements:

  • Interest in arboriculture, horticulture, urban forestry, environmental science, landscaping, and restoration;
  • Ability to lift up to 50+ pounds repeatedly and ability to stand, crouch, and perform various types of manual labor;
  • Tolerant to working outdoors in inclement weather and other environmental factors;
  • Must be punctual and responsible;
  • Valid Illinois Driver’s License that must be maintained for the duration of employment;
  • Willingness to work in all neighborhoods of Chicago and surrounding communities;
  • Mobile phone for a means of reliable communication
  • Availability to work on all Saturdays for plantings during April-May & September-early November
  • Must work in all Chicago neighborhoods. Workday begins and ends at the Openlands field site in Pilsen.

Job Expectations:

  • Ability to learn basic tree identification and build on those skills;
  • Become an Openlands Certified TreeKeeper (pass written exam);
  • Meeting, working with, and leading groups of volunteers;
  • Work as a team and communicate well with other crew members;
  • Maintain a positive and openminded attitude;
  • Enthusiasm for trees, nature and connecting Chicago region residents to the natural world

Trainees have the opportunity to:

  • Gain over 1,000 hours of direct experience in the care of young and mature trees;
  • Gain a foundation of basic urban forestry skills and knowledge;
  • Gain knowledge of and practice the art and science of pruning trees;
  • Shadow professionals in the tree care industry or conservation field;
  • Begin a pathway into a new career

Compensation: $14/hr, increased to $15/hr after 90 days. Individuals that stay for the length of the entire program year and receive a positive year-end review will receive a bonus of $1,000.

Seasonal Employment: March 19 to November 8, 2019. Wed.-Sat. in spring and fall, Tue.-Fri. in summer.

Work Schedule: 28 hours/week. 7am-3pm


To Apply:

This position is open until filled. Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter explaining why your skills and experience would complement this position to JobApps@Openlands.org.   Please include “Forestry Trainee” in the subject line.

Please note that applications without a cover letter will not be considered.

Openlands is an equal opportunity employer and seeks to employ qualified individuals based on individual merit. Openlands does not discriminate against any individual with respect to the terms and conditions of employment based on that individual’s race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, disability, genetic information, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, housing status, or any other non-merit factor protected under state, local or federal laws.

Equal Employment Opportunity applies to all personnel actions such as recruiting, hiring, compensation, benefits, promotions, training, transfer, termination, and opportunities for training. Openlands is committed to a fair and equitable workplace where everyone is a respected and valued member of the team.


About Openlands:

Openlands protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives.

Openlands’ vision for the region is a landscape that includes a vast network of land and water trails, tree-lined streets, and intimate public gardens within easy reach of every city dweller. It also includes parks and preserves big enough to provide natural habitat and to give visitors a sense of the vast prairies, woodlands, and wetlands that were here before the cities. In sum, Openlands believes that protected open space is critical for the quality of life of our region.