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Plant Breeding Intern - Seasonal

The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL, United States
Employer Description

When Joy Morton established The Morton Arboretum in 1922, he envisioned a “great outdoor museum” of trees. Today, our living collections inspire visitors to appreciate, learn about, plant, and protect trees. The Arboretum champions the world's trees through plant collections, science and conservation, education, and outreach.

The Morton Arboretum's 1,700 acres hold more than 222,000 live plants representing nearly 4,300 taxa from around the world. Situated on the rolling Valparaiso moraine and bisected by the East Branch of the DuPage River, the Arboretum is planned and planted to nurture and display trees and shrubs in environments conducive to their growth.

The Arboretum conducts leading scientific research on tree health and tree improvement, collects and displays trees for study and enjoyment on the grounds, offers educational programming for adults and children, and presents nature-related activities year-round for people of all ages and interests.

Also on the grounds are the Visitor Center with The Arboretum Store and Ginkgo Restaurant and Café, four-acre Children’s Garden, one-acre Maze Garden, Sterling Morton Library, Plant Clinic, nine miles of roads, and 16 miles of trails.

Job Description

Position Summary:

Provide research assistance for the New Plant Development program by assisting in plant propagation, plant breeding, and lab work.  Complete and present a project, mutually agreed upon with the supervisor, which will contribute to departmental and institutional goals.

Essential Functions:

  • Participate in controlled pollinations, plant propagation, and transplanting.
  • Perform laboratory work, such as plant tissue culture, flow cytometry, microscopy, and cytology (training provided).
  • Maintain proper cultural conditions for plants in production, including watering, fertilizing, pruning, and weeding in greenhouse, nursery, and field.
  • Assist in data collection for research and breeding projects.
  • Complete and present an assigned project related to the New Plant Development program.
  • Participate in professional development opportunities, which may include institutional seminars and field trips to nurseries and public gardens.
  • Other duties as assigned.
Job Requirements


Current enrollment or completion in Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree program in plant sciences or related field.  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.

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, may use the Arboretum truck.


22 January 2019
22 April 2019
Some College
Plant Science