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Director Of Horticulture

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo And Aquarium
Omaha, United States Posted: March 11, 2024

Summary: The Director of Horticulture at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (OHDZA) leads the Zoo’s horticulture team, providing direction and oversight of all horticulture activities, including the planning, design, procurement, implementation, and supervision of the zoo’s living plant collections to enhance an immersive guest experience, compliment animal habitats and increase opportunities to deliver on the Zoo’s mission. OHDZA’s mission is to inspire, educate and engage people to serve as lifelong stewards for the conservation of animals and their habitats. The Director of Horticulture is a key leader of the Zoo’s Senior Staff, touching on all aspects of operations, from special events to lawn maintenance.  Although located at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (in Omaha, NE), this position’s duties and responsibilities also apply to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, in Ashland, NE where work is done in coordination and collaboration with the Safari Park superintendent.

Duties and Responsibilities/Essential Functions (include but not limited to):
  • Manages and coordinates all initiatives of the Horticulture Department to maintain extraordinary Zoo landscapes and plants, and supporting an immersive guest experience that attracts and engages all audiences.
  • Provides strong leadership, management, support, and professional development opportunities to the Zoo’s horticulture team.
  • Develops, maintains, and promotes positive and professional relationships with team members, volunteers, vendors, contractors, guests, and members, to achieve departmental and organizational goals.
  • Develops and fosters a strong working relationship with the animal care teams in the design, operation and maintenance of exhibit landscapes and adjacent areas.
  • Facilitates collaborative work with the Zoo’s animal nutrition and browse teams to enhance animal welfare and ensure safety when animals consume plants.
  • Works collaboratively with other Zoo teams and external contractors to coordinate implementation of project work on Zoo grounds.
  • Hires, develops, motivates, and monitors horticulture team performance and engagement, including delegating appropriate responsibility and accountability, while fostering strong, positive work relationships and high team morale.
  • Develops, assesses, and monitors annual horticulture plans and the corresponding budgets.
  • Develops, implements, and manages appropriate record keeping systems managing horticultural collection, and other departmental records.
  • Designs, conceptualizes, directs, and manages all horticulture activities, including four-season horticulture design, plant cultivation and protection, turf and tree care, greenhouse production and sustainability practices.
  • Contributes to the Zoo’s mission, conservation, and education initiatives (such as the incorporation of native species to support local pollinators, songbirds, and native wildlife species), guest formal and informal education endeavors, and support of field conservation programs.
  • Represents Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium within the Greater Omaha community and to national professional audiences.
  • Ensures compliance with regulatory and safety standards, such as OSHA and EPA, as well as state, local and federal ordinances. Observes safety regulations and ensures that field teams do the same. 
  • Provides landscape design input and horticultural expertise for capital improvement, renovations, and other large projects. 
  • Evaluate the benefits and challenges associated with the Zoo becoming an Arboretum/Botanical Garden and present the findings to senior management for consideration.
  • Performs other duties as required within the scope of the duties in this job classification to support the Zoo’s mission.
  • Reports to the Vice President of Capital Planning and Campus Operations
Functional Competencies:
  • Agility
  • Is open to change and new information; able to rapidly adapt to changing conditions or unexpected obstacles; demonstrates flexibility in thought and action.
  • Building Relationships
  • Connects and builds relationships with others inside and outside the organizations; develops highly effective teams and alliances.
  • Compliance
  • Designs programs and structure to tailor per unique requirements.
  • Conflict Management
  • Successfully anticipates and mediates conflict between individuals and groups; finds common ground and obtains cooperation.
  • Contracts and Legal
  • Writes, Negotiates and Manages contracts with trade partners.
  • Cost Management
  •  Establishes budgets and manages spending accordingly. Ensures value is received for cost incurred.
  • Inspiration
  • Demonstrates passion and interest when conveying ideas, expresses vision in compelling and motivational ways, encourages and brings out the best in others.
  • Planning
  • Manages/Oversees overall planning process to ensure proper resources, schedule, and discipline coordination.
  • Revenue Management
  • Negotiates changes to successful resolution; resolves issues in a timely manner; able to maximize cash flow.
Vendor/Client Relations
  • Builds and maintains strong relationships with stakeholders and vendors.
  • Builder
  • Demonstrates intellectual curiosity; challenges status quo; isn’t afraid to voice concern or disagree.
  • Demonstrates vision, is strategic versus tactical; knows the big picture direction and sense of purpose.
  • Ensures individuals are gaining knowledge necessary to build now and in the future.
  • Finds opportunities to connect developing employees to build work operations in the field.
  • Knows the development needs of the team.
  • Monitors development within the organization.
  • Remains available to your employees, keep an open door for your employees.
  • Technically competent.
Required Qualifications:
  • Bachelor’s degree in landscape design, horticulture, garden management, agricultural, botany, life sciences or related degree.
  • Ten (10) years or more of professional experience in a related position, including team building, project management, budget oversight, design & vision implementations, and world travel.
  • Demonstrable knowledge and background in the identification and culture of plants, as well as working knowledge of horticultural zones and best practices for indoor and outdoor landscapes.
  • OSHA 10-Hour Training (Construction and General Industry)
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
  • Strong leadership and management skills, including delegation, prioritization of activities and responsibilities, conveying clarity, and strong interpersonal and teamwork skills.
  • High emotional intelligence and relationship-building skills.
  • Thorough knowledge of botanical garden collections, taxonomy and geography to support authentic immersive guest experiences through the Zoo.
  • Ability to support science and sustainability practices.
  • Creative and aesthetic landscape design skills.
  • Strong guest service, teamwork, and interpersonal skills.
  • Outstanding horticulture or related garden design skills.
  • Project management, organizational and planning skills.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills, both written and verbal, which are effective with a range of audiences including staff, volunteers, professional groups, general public and media.
  • Knowledge and proficiency in Microsoft Office suite are required, familiarity with record keeping, landscape design, project management or construction software is desired.
  • Integrated Pest Management with and understanding of biological and beneficial insects.
  • Knowledge with national accreditation programs is desired.
  • Ability to serve and create experiences for diverse audiences.
Work Environment/Physical Demands:
  • This position will work primarily in an office environment and outside. Significant exposure to weather is possible.
  • Work is normally performed in a seasonal outside work environment.
  • Must be able to walk long distances across the zoo. 
  • Must be able to stand, sit, kneel, bend, twist, reach above head and climb. 
  • Will lift, push, pull, and/or move up to 50 pounds. 
  • Understand and respond to a diverse population. 
Travel Required
  • Some travel is required (conferences, workshops)
  • Remote Work
  • Opportunities for remote work are limited, as this position is intended to provide on-site supervision and oversight of on-site campus operations.
  • The information presented indicates the general nature and level of work expected of employees in this classification. It is not designed to contain, nor is it to be interpreted as, a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities, qualifications and objectives required of employees assigned to this job.
  • Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer as defined by the EEOC.

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