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Seeds of Success Lead Botanist - Susanville, CA

This Lead Botanist role is a Chicago Botanic Garden position funded by a contract with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The term is for ~5 months (22 weeks), leading a Seeds of Success (SOS) collection crew within the BLM Eagle Lake Field Office and Applegate Field Office, based in Susanville, CA. This team is expected to work from May 15 through October 13, 2023. 

Due to the large area the crew is responsible for, frequent camping will be required to make the best use of travel time. The crew will be provided a 4x4 work truck and supplies for field work and seed collection. As BLM office space will not be provided, the team will be provided a Verizon MiFi hotspot, laptop, and tablet (w/ cellular) for conducting scouting research, participating in calls, writing reports, and using/updating the California Ecoregional Reporting Tool through ArcGIS Online Field Maps and Survey123, as well as updating data on Google Drive spreadsheets.

The Lead Botanist will be responsible for supervising one Field Technician, coordinating with BLM and Chicago Botanic Garden staff, planning scouting and collecting trips, and conducting large native seed collections as part of the SOS program. This team will likely spend 90% of their time in the field. This role will provide daily team leadership and oversight. The Lead Botanist will ensure quality control for all collections (correct species identification, proper phenology assessments and seed collecting techniques, documentation and processing, including data entry and depositing herbarium specimens in designated local and national institutions). 
  • Coordinate with BLM staff to identify ecoregional priority species for seed collection, review historic collection sites and identify gaps in geospatial data.
  • Coordinate with BLM and CBG staff to plan field operations and solve logistical problems, as well as incorporating safety plans for conducting field work safely.
  • Identify potential collection locations of priority species through scouting, analysis of herbarium records, previous SOS collections, and vegetation mapping. 
  • Collect 4 herbarium vouchers for each potential collection site. Take appropriate photos as instructed for seed certification.
  • Monitor phenology of target plant populations to plan and execute collections
  • Ensure collection of all required population scouting data, seed collection data, and photos are properly recorded and shared with CBG and BLM.
  • Update and maintain all required population and geospatial data on California Ecoregional Tool through ArcGIS Online Field Maps and Survey123. Sync data at the end of each field trip or at least every 10 days.
  • Maintain running Field Report spreadsheet with road and trail mileage, as well as number of potential collection sites assessed, and number of collection sites monitored for seed ripening. 
  • As part of the team, make operational collections using the BLM SOS protocol (training provided). Incorporate Pure Live Seed (PLS) estimates and raw weight to collect at least 80,000 estimated PLS for each collection, larger collections are encouraged.
  • Manage seed collection crew, carry out seed collections, and package and ship seeds to partners, keeping detailed records of all collections and shipments.
  • Ensure quality, accuracy, and timeliness of seed collections and data provided by the collection crew. 
  • Participate in weekly calls with CBG, biweekly calls with BLM & CBG and monthly national SOS calls
  • Help coordinate seed source certification with Utah Crop Improvement Association.
  • Timely, accurate reporting of time and effort activities, adherence to all Chicago Botanic Garden policies and procedures for employees, and communication with the Chicago Botanic Garden manager and BLM point of contact.
  • Timely completion of end-of-season duties, including data entry into SOS Data Portal, and final report.

The ideal candidate will have the following:
  • Bachelor on science degree in botany, plant science, ecology, biology, or a related field
  • Strong plant identification skills (to species) and knowledge of plant taxonomy; strong knowledge of plant biology. Familiarity with plants and ecosystems of the western U.S.
  • Experience scouting, planning, and conducting seed collections (through SOS programs or other seed handling/collecting work)
  • Experience leading a field team or other supervisory experience
  • Experience maintaining accurate and detailed data records (in field and in electronic databases – Excel/Access)
  • Experience working with agency, academic, private, or non-profit partners to coordinate, plan, and execute fieldwork on public or private lands
  • Capable of conducting field work safely in rough terrain in harsh environmental conditions
  • Experience hiking and backcountry camping, and the willingness to do so for this position
  • Experience driving large field vehicles with 4-wheel drive; driving on gravel and dirt roads
  • Proficiency in ArcGIS to display maps, visualize georeferenced data, and interface with GPS units
  • Wilderness First Aid or other field safety training
  • Excellent organization skills and ability to handle several projects and deadlines at once
  • Self-starter, independent worker, able to learn quickly and adapt to challenges