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Director of Public Programs

Framingham MA

The mission of New England Wild Flower Society is to conserve and promote the region's native plants to ensure healthy, biologically diverse landscapes. Founded in 1900, the Society is the nation's oldest plant conservation organization and a recognized leader in native plant conservation, horticulture, and education. The Society's headquarters, Garden in the Woods, is a renowned native plant botanic garden in Framingham, Massachusetts, that attracts visitors from all over the world. From this base, 25 staff and 700 trained volunteers work throughout New England to monitor and protect rare and endangered plants, collect and preserve seeds to ensure biological diversity, detect and control invasive species, conduct research, and offer a range of educational programs. The Society also operates a native plant nursery at Nasami Farm in western Massachusetts and has six sanctuaries in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont that are open to the public.


Position Summary

The Director of Public Programs has an exciting opportunity to build on a strong, successful program and position it for growth and continued achievement under the Society’s new strategic plan. S/he will be charged with creating innovative, effective educational programs for core audiences throughout the region and developing informal programs that attract and serve visitors to Garden in the Woods. S/he will evaluate and continue improving the signature adult certificate program, evaluate the newly revamped school programs, and expand online course and webinar offerings. The two-person department currently offers approximately 200 programs throughout New England each year via contracts with 65 top-notch educators and experts, who lead courses, workshops, field trips, and online programs in botany, plant conservation, ecological horticulture, and gardening. The staff also recruits, trains, schedules, and fosters a sense of community among approximately 70 volunteer Garden guides and paid teacher-naturalists who lead school tours at the Garden.

The Director of Public Programs reports to the Executive Director and works collaboratively with the other senior staff to develop, fund, and implement initiatives that advance the Society's mission and enhance its leadership role.


Primary Responsibilities

Achieve the goals for Public Programs as outlined in the Society’s strategic plan, including working with the Philanthropy Department to secure funding for core programs, new initiatives, and new staffing

Develop, oversee, and evaluate education programs for both adults and children; team with professional organizations to offer continuing education and professional development credits where appropriate

Oversee online learning; manage the online platform; continue to explore opportunities and collaborations for online learning; and recruit and train appropriate instructors

Oversee certificate programs, which enroll approximately 200 lifelong learners each year; recruit, orient, and advise students; review course content and evaluate program effectiveness

Develop and oversee/ implement significant regional outreach programs, such as the two-year “Pollinate New England” initiative

Develop signature lecture/training series, such as the Urban Gardening Series in Cambridge, MA, that help build awareness and attract new constituents in key locations

Develop, oversee, and evaluate a variety of signature informal programs, such as Arbor Day, Trillium Week, and Plants and Pints, to attract new visitors to Garden in the Woods

Recruit, orient, supervise, and regularly evaluate contracted course instructors

Recruit, train, supervise, and evaluate the teacher naturalists and volunteer guides at Garden in the Woods

Work with the Director of the Botanic Garden on interpretation in the Garden and to prepare for, fund, and implement a comprehensive interpretive plan for the Garden

Work with the Director of the Botanic Garden to build a visitor services team to handle Garden-specific functions, such as guide training, tours, and rentals, which are currently in the portfolio of the Public Programs Department

In cooperation with the Public Programs Coordinator, manage the daily operation of the department, including scheduling teachers, volunteers, interns, and other staff; publishing the biannual course catalogue; and maintaining up-to-date information about course offerings and events on the Society’s website

Prepare and administer the annual department budget


Skills and Experience

This position requires a visionary, entrepreneurial approach to education's role in nonprofit organizations and demonstrated success in developing, administering, and evaluating education programs in conservation, botany, horticulture, or related disciplines. The ideal candidate will have experience with classroom and field programs delivered by contract faculty over a wide geographic area plus a working knowledge of the New England flora.

Minimum of 3-5 years of related experience, with increasing responsibility

Demonstrated passion for hands-on teaching, particularly about the natural world

Familiarity or experience with the unique educational context of lifelong learning programs, such as those offered by museums, nature centers, botanic gardens, and community colleges

Experience building successful collaborations with other organizations and institutions, including academic institutions

Experience working with the public school system and familiarity with state education requirements

Familiarity with a range of educational software and platforms or with online learning programs, and fundamentally tech-savvy

Ability to multi-task and manage a changing, varied, fast-paced workload

Exemplary verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to interact effectively with staff, volunteers, instructors, and partners

Successful grant-writing experience


To Apply

Please submit a letter of interest and resume (MS Word or PDF format, with your last name as part of the file names) to Debbi Edelstein, Executive Director, New England Wild Flower Society, at dedelstein@newenglandwild.org, using the subject line "Public Programs Director Application."

Posted October 2, 2017

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