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Conservation Associate-- Botanist / Plant Ecologist

Conservation Associate-- Botanist / Plant Ecologist

Conservation Associate-Fixed

Job no: 762420

Work type: Extension, Faculty/Academic Staff

Major Administrative Unit / College: Michigan State University Extension

Department: Extension Community Food And Environment 10058942

Sub Area: FAS- Fac./Acad Staff

Salary: Salary Commensurate with Experience

Location: Clinton, East Lansing, Eaton, Ingham, Jackson, Lansing, Livingston, Shiawassee

Categories: Agriculture, Education/Training, Research/Scientific, Advising/Counseling, Extension Program Associate-EXPA, MSU Extension- EXPA, Fixed Term Academic Staff, Full Time (90-100%), Non-Union

Working/Functional Title

Botanist/Plant Ecologist

Position Summary

Michigan State University Extension is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive organization, which requires all staff to contribute towards a vision for success. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to our work, regardless of title or position within the organization. This means that all staff at MSU Extension are dedicated to the following:

  • We work together to ensure that programming is delivered to diverse audiences, produces equitable impacts for all participants, and demonstrates partnership and inclusion for all groups.
  • We embrace that it is everyone’s job to create a culture that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
  • We ensure that every team member is prepared with the skills and resources to contribute to our welcoming and inclusive culture.
  • We foster inclusion by recognizing and valuing diverse perspectives, skills, experiences, and work to create equal access to programming for communities.
  • We commit to continuous learning for diversity, equity, and cultural competency, in order to achieve inclusive excellence.
  • We understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential elements to our work and are vital to the organizational culture and programmatic success of MSU Extension.
  • We embrace a culture of understanding, coaching and feedback towards achieving a vision of success for the entire organization and its staff.
  • Together we will achieve success and we commit to these goals in our work, continued education, and ongoing efforts.  



The mission of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) is to guide the conservation of Michigan’s biodiversity by providing the highest quality scientific expertise and information. MNFI’s vision is to be the authoritative source of information on biodiversity that is widely used to conserve Michigan’s unique natural heritage for current and future generations.

As part of MSU Extension, the Community, Food and Environment Institute, and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, the successful candidate(s) will collect, analyze, and communicate information about Michigan's rare and declining plant species and natural communities, help maintain Michigan’s Natural Heritage Database, and work cooperatively with other MNFI personnel, public and private agencies, organizations, and individuals to inform and guide decisions that impact biodiversity conservation.


The MNFI is soliciting applications for a botanical/plant ecology position to assist with an array of projects requiring expertise in plant and natural community identification, ecosystem valuation, and interpretation of ecological relationships in plant communities. The proportion of time devoted to primary tasks will vary annually according to project requirements and individual interests but will generally consist of substantial field data collection during the growing season (40-60% of year), data management and analysis (15-25% of year), scientific writing (15-25% of year), and outreach/education activities (5-15% of year).


This position will have statewide responsibilities and will be housed at the MNFI office in Lansing, Michigan.


This is a full-time, fixed-term end-dated appointment, renewable annually based upon successful performance and continued funding.


Characteristic Duties/Responsibilities

  • Plan and conduct field surveys, monitoring, and research of rare and declining plant species and natural communities.
  • Collect, evaluate, analyze, and disseminate rare plant and ecological information and manage data within multiple databases.
  • Assist with the maintenance and expansion of Michigan’s Natural Heritage Database with regard to rare plant species and natural community occurrences and support other heritage programming.
  • Develop and maintain positive working relationships intra- and inter-organizationally, including with natural resource managers, researchers, other partners, and stakeholders through collaborations and consultations, and create and promote positive public relations for MSU Extension, the Community, Food, and Environment Institute, and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.
  • Understand and support the Community, Food and Environment Institute’s efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion, and Civil Rights, with a special emphasis on removing barriers from reaching diverse populations, including but not limited to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status, socio-economic class, and other human differences in rural, suburban and urban communities.
  • In concert with the MSU Extension, the CFEI, and the MNFI work teams, develop and utilize appropriate media methods, provide technical assistance and training to communicate current and timely information, research results, and relevant updates on Michigan’s rare plant species and natural communities, invasive species, ecological restoration, and biodiversity stewardship to staff within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, other state, federal, and local agencies, and conservation organizations.
  • Disseminate information about rare plant species and ecosystems through project reports, publications, scientific presentations, and other written and oral communications.
  • Collaborate with MSU Extension staff to gather and report programming outputs to demonstrate program effectiveness and to guide future program priorities for MSU Extension, the CFEI, the MNFI and work teams and assist and/or lead project development, management, and implementation, including the preparation of proposals to obtain funding for projects that further MNFI’s mission.
  • Engage in outreach activities with the public, community groups, and scientific community and work with these groups to evaluate the needs of the community and develop effective programming.
  • Serve as an information resource to clientele, partners, and Extension staff.
  • Serve on internal and external project teams, committees, and working groups as needed.
  • Recruit, train, and direct seasonal staff.
  • Participate in MSU health and safety monitoring programs as necessary.
  • Actively participate in professional development opportunities.
  • Author, produce, and submit regular research-based educational materials and articles.
  • Perform other duties or projects as assigned.

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, citizenship, age, disability or protected veteran status.

Required Degree

Masters -Plant biology, Ecology, Forestry

Desired Degree

Doctorate -Relevant field

Minimum Requirements

  • Master's degree in plant biology, ecology, forestry, or closely related field, earned by date of hire.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the conservation of biological diversity.
  • Experience designing and conducting field-based ecological studies, especially those involving vegetation sampling, mapping, and monitoring.
  • Experience conducting plant species surveys and sampling plant diversity.
  • Experience with natural community surveys and evaluation, including both upland and wetland ecosystems.
  • Familiarity with plant identification keys, specimen preparation, and herbarium practices.
  • Ability to independently conduct long days of strenuous fieldwork under adverse conditions for prolonged periods of time throughout the State of Michigan.
  • Ability to navigate in remote areas, including experience using a compass, maps, and GPS technology.
  • Strong interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills.
  • Strong organizational and time-management skills, and attention to detail.
  • Demonstrated ability to quickly learn new skills and procedures.
  • Self-motivated with the demonstrated ability to work independently without daily supervision and/or coaching.  
  • Experience and proven ability working effectively on multidisciplinary teams within a participatory workplace culture, serving in both leadership and contributor roles.
  • Demonstrated success in program development and delivery to diverse audiences/communicates, and proven ability in establishing and working with a diverse network of constituents and community members across race, color, gender, national origin, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, veteran status, socioeconomic class, and other differences.
  • Proficiency in use of technology (e.g., web research, Microsoft Office Suite, Survey123/Collector, email/calendaring, distance technology, etc.) for day-to-day work, record keeping, reporting, team-based communications, and overall management.
  • Ability to lift and carry field supplies, educational materials, equipment, etc. up to 25 lbs.
  • Ability to travel in local and surrounding communities and long distances, including weekends and for extended periods, is required as a regular part of this position.
  • Transportation is the responsibility of the employee.
  • Other skills and/or physical abilities required to perform duties of this position.

Desired Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in relevant field.
  • Knowledge of the ecosystems and natural communities of Michigan and/or the Upper Great Lakes.
  • Experience conducting population viability analyses and USFWS species status assessments.
  • Experience developing and implementing monitoring protocols.
  • Experience conducting floristic quality assessments.
  • Demonstrated ability to quickly identify most plant species in the field in both upland and wetland communities and in communities typical of both northern and southern Michigan.
  • Knowledge of and/or experience in ecological restoration, invasive species control, and ecosystem management.
  • Knowledge of and/or experience assessing the effects of climate change on plant composition or ecological functioning.
  • Experience with ESRI GIS software and spatial analysis.
  • Demonstrated analytical abilities and experience with statistical software (e.g., R, SAS, SPSS, or SYSTAT).
  • Knowledge of NatureServe's natural heritage methodology and Biotics software.
  • Demonstrated record of obtaining extramural funding.

Required Application Materials

Current resume/CV.

Cover letter.

Four (4) professional references including two (2) current or previous supervisors.

Together-we-will Statement

The university is requiring all MSU students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with limited exceptions. Learn more at:

Special Instructions

This is a full-time, fixed-term end-dated appointment, renewable annually based upon successful performance and continued funding.

Review of Applications Begins On



MSU Statement

Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 160 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

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Additional Info

Job Type : Full-Time

Education Level : Masters

Experience Level : Mid to Senior Level

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