School Gardens and Nature Based Learning Support Coordinator

Are you interested in working for a mission-driven organization? Do you have a passion for the Natural Environment? One of Chicago’s regional leaders in conservation is hiring a Garden and Nature Education Coordinator: School Gardens and Nature Based Learning Support.

The Organization

Since 1963, Openlands has protected 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.

The primary role of the Garden and Nature Based Education Coordinator (Coordinator) is to work directly with schools, students, community members, and volunteers. The Coordinator ensures quality delivery of education programs specifically related to our Garden and Nature Education programming around nature-based environments which include school edible gardens, pollinator gardens, and nature play environments. While the primary focus for this role will be the School Gardens and Nature Based Education program, the role will also require flexibility to support the rest of the Education department’s work when needed. Since the nature of this position has to do with volunteer coordination, the ideal candidate for this position has strong communication skills, both written and spoken as well as an ability to communicate clearly and concisely. Additionally, strong time management, project management, communication, and training facilitation skills. This is a full-time, salaried, non-exempt position and requires flexibility with weekend work during spring and autumn field trip seasons and other occasional weekends and evenings during the year. This position reports to the Director of Education.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Maintain relationships and engage with a variety of individuals (teachers, parents, administrators, community members) and community-based groups relevant to each school.
  • Develop, support, and collaborate with school-based educators and administrators around outdoor learning including nature play and other outdoor learning.
  • Develop, support, and collaborate with school garden teams to lead student and community garden days that typically involve planting, weeding, preparing soil, watering, and mulching.
  • Recruit for, coordinate logistics, develop materials, and lead School Garden and Nature Based workshops and tours.
  • Coordinate with the Education department team to create and send out a monthly newsletter that is sent to schools, community members, and volunteers
  • Measure the impact of our work by tracking metrics monthly
  • Represent Openlands at public and private functions
  • Work with the Education department team and external relations staff to promote work to the Openlands Board of Directors, members, and supporters.
  • Other duties as assigned

Job Requirements and Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • At least a year of work experience in education, environmental studies, or community outreach, or another related field 
  • Experience working with groups, such as volunteers, or classes of students, and experience structuring volunteer programs, and/or events
  • Clear and concise communication and the ability to work cooperatively with a wide variety of people including local government officials, teachers, school administrators, scientists, consultants, and citizen action groups
  • Edible garden, native garden and nature play experience preferred
  • Excellent workshop facilitation, project management, and organization skills
  • Familiarity with Chicago Public Schools a plus
  • Knowledge of Chicago and the surrounding area, valid driver’s license and reliable transportation is required. Mileage is reimbursed for work travel.
  • Ability to work some weekends and evenings. Time on weekends and evenings are compensated with time off during regular work hours.
  • Must be able to lift approximately 25-50 lbs. on occasion and periodically work outside in various weather conditions
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite and Google Suite (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc) is required. Familiarity with Slack, Trello and other similar tools is a plus
  • Must be able to pass a comprehensive background check run by state and federal agencies (Illinois State Police and FBI) including fingerprinting


Salary range is $43,000 – $46,000. Benefits include health, life, and disability coverage, a 403(b)-retirement plan, paid holidays, and vacation time.

Vaccination Statement:

To protect our staff and community, Openlands requires all employees to be fully vaccinated upon hire or may request a medical/religious exemption if extended and offer.

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 “Garden and Nature Education Coordinator: School Gardens and Nature Based Learning Support” in the subject line. Please note that applications without a cover letter will not be considered. *A background check will be required.

Work Environment:

This position offers a hybrid work schedule with a combination of remote and works in our downtown Chicago office which is ADA accessible. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, and scanners. The employee is regularly required to talk, hear, see, and communicate effectively via computer. This role requires manual labor- standing, bending, crouching, lifting. Smoke- and drug-free environment

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.