Aquatic Plant Harvester Operator

Requisition Number: 
Aquatics–Restoration Ecology
Job Status: 
The Chicago Botanic Garden is looking for an energetic, mechanically-adept seasonal employee to operate our aquatic plant harvester in summer 2015—and, ideally, in subsequent years as well. The Garden's 60 acres of lakes benefit from periodic "mowing" to help keep submerged aquatic vegetation and surface algae mats in check.

Located 25 miles north of downtown Chicago, the Garden's 385-acre campus includes 60 acres of lakes. Over the past 15 years, a half million native aquatic and shoreline plants have been added along 4.5 miles of our lakeshore. To help maintain desirable submerged plant communitites and overall lake aesthetics, periodic trimming of excessive submerged vegetation growth and algal mats is conducted.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

The aquatic plant harvester operator operates and provides basic maintenance on the Garden's aquatic plant harvester and conveyor equipment. The harvester equipment has underwater cutting blades that sever underwater plant stems and then removes them out of the lake via on-board conveyor belts. When the on-board storage area for cut-plant material has been filled, the harvester connects to a shore-based conveyor system that offloads the harvester's material to a dump truck; the cut-plant material is then driven to the Garden's landscape waste processing area where it is converted into mulch.


Candidates for this position must have, at minimum, the following:

  • Good mechanical aptitude (basic knowledge of diesel engine operation a plus)
  • A strong work ethic
  • A high comfort level in being in and around water and an ability to swim should the need arise in an emergency. The 2015 employment term for this position begins in late May/early June and will likely continue through late August or early September. The normal work schedule is Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., although flexibility in scheduling and working hours is possible. Candidates who have the desire and ability to work during a similar timeframe in subsequent years (i.e., beyond 2015) are strongly preferred.
Physical Demands: 
Employees must be comfortable operating diesel and gasoline engines, be a licensed driver with a clean driving record, be insurable by the Garden, be able to sit for extended periods of time (i.e., while operating the harvester), have excellent physical dexterity (e.g., an ability to board the harvester from the water, remove jammed plant material from the harvester and conveyor, etc.), and have an ability to lift and carry 35 pounds.
Why Apply?: 

Come work in a setting that is like no other as you support our mission: We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life. Take the first step toward being one of the employees who make the Garden one of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Apply today. Please note that applicants who do not meet the required qualifications will not be considered.

Disclaimer: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities and qualifications required of personnel so classified.