Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens is seeking a Director of Education and Visitor Experience. The Friends is the 501(c)(3) counterpart of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which is a facility of the City of Birmingham Park and Recreation Board.
The Gardens is one of Birmingham’s most treasured and popular destinations, is open year-round and provides free admission to all visitors. Its 67.5 acres feature more than 2 dozen gardens, inspired by culture, nature and collections, ranging from the Japanese Garden and Barber Alabama Woodlands to the historic Conservatory and Formal Gardens. Its diverse plant collections celebrate the wonder of the plant world, illustrate Alabama’s biodiversity, offer inspiration for home gardeners and provide interest with ever-changing seasonal displays.
The Friends’ educational programming offers a rich variety of experiences that promote sustainability and environmental stewardship, and impact not only casual garden visitors and program attendees, but also seek to benefit all residents of the greater Birmingham area. Free, hands-on, curriculum-based science programming is offered to over 10,000 kindergarten through 6th grade students each year. Summer camps, teacher training, and adult classes, lectures and workshops are also offered. With garden attendance in excess of a quarter million visitors per year, the projected impact of The Friends’ work is far-reaching.
As a direct report to the Executive Director and a key member of The Friends’ senior leadership team, the Director of Education and Visitor Experience is responsible for the creation and implementation of a comprehensive education and visitor experience program. Building on many successful programs, this position represents an exciting opportunity to shape the organization’s programmatic future in a way that attracts and serves diverse audiences; is a part of The Gardens’ longstanding tradition of being a place where people from all walks of life can have free access to enjoy and appreciate plants and the environment; and complements The Gardens’ positioning as a community resource and destination of botanical, horticultural and regional significance.
Key areas of focus for the Director of Education and Visitor Experience include:
Educational Program Development and Management
• Adult classes, workshops and lectures – including personal enrichment, professional development and general interest programs
• Children’s and youth programs – offerings such as school field trips and summer camps
• Conferences and symposia – including hosted and in-house programs
• Internships – offering a variety of hands-on public garden related experiences for high school and college students
• Conservation programs – including extensive educational and garden-based activities
Visitor Experience Planning and Implementation
• Garden interpretation – implementing a meaningful and innovative program to serve and inform all garden visitors
• Garden tours – including group and self-directed tours
• Seasonal activities and special events – such as Earth Day and Arbor Day
• Consistently delivering excellent service, programs and products – cultivating a campus-wide culture of exceptional visitor service
Library and Information Services
• Library and archives – overseeing the country’s only public library dedicated to horticulture, gardening and the environment
• Community outreach and engagement – such as school, community and service learning programs; and partnerships with like-minded organizations
• Plant societies and groups – promoting and fostering strong relationships with the many volunteer groups affiliated with The Friends and The Gardens
Department Leadership and Administration
• In concert with appropriate stakeholders, spearhead the creation of a strategic goals and objectives for The Friends’ programmatic efforts; and provide leadership for program development, funding, implementation and evaluation
• Development and monitoring of departmental budgets; provide support and analysis for institutional reports
• Directly supervise education department staff (currently comprised of seven individuals), cultivating a dedicated, professional team with a passion for fulfilling The Friends’ educational mission
• Provide oversight and direction for education docent recruitment and training
• Forge constructive partnerships with other staff members; contribute to, and serve as a resource for The Friends’ programs and activities; foster productive interdepartmental teamwork
• Partner with The Friends’ Education Committee and Board members to promote The Friends’ educational mission
This position will manage full-time, seasonal and part-time staff in addition to volunteers. The Director of Education and Visitor Experience will work closely with other Friends staff members, City of Birmingham garden staff, volunteers, content specialists and other stakeholders in order to carry out his/her duties. Other responsibilities may include leading tours, presenting programs to community groups, teaching classes, assisting with volunteer workdays, staff training and serving as part of The Friends team in support of major activities such as the Spring Plant Sale and other seasonal events.
Bachelor’s degree in horticulture, education, museum studies or a related field (advanced degree desirable). Minimum of five years’ related experience in informal or formal education. Experience to include demonstrated writing, speaking, interpersonal and organizational skills; ability to proactively lead a high performance team, set priorities, and manage concurrent tasks with meticulous attention to detail; operational budgeting and goal setting; proficiency with computer applications and technology; and, successful program-related resource development and grant seeking. Preference will be given to candidates with experience working with the public school system, knowledge of state and national learning standards and awareness of trends in formal and informal education.
Desirable Qualities and Strengths
We are seeking a creative, self-starting, entrepreneurial leader. Desirable qualities and strengths include: a passion for the art and science of horticulture; an appreciation for the role and significance of lifelong learning; strong communication skills and a high degree of comfort with public interaction; a work style that is collaborative and inclusive; an aptitude for creative problem solving; the ability to effectively utilize volunteers, interns and consultants; and a strong focus on visitor experience and service.
This position requires a high degree of effectiveness in working with diverse audiences and in interacting with appropriate partners and stakeholders.