The Highlands Biological Foundation

Highlands, North Carolina

Job Type Temporary
Salary Details $520/week
Required Experience 0 - 1 years

The Highlands Biological Foundation is recruiting a Naturalist to support our summer programming at the Highlands Nature Center. Tucked into a temperate rainforest at the southern edge of the Appalachians, the Highlands Nature Center is part of the Highlands Biological Station, a multi-campus center of Western Carolina University. During the summer it reaches more than 10,000 residents and visitors from across the country. In addition to natural history exhibits, staff offer free daily and weekly programs for the public, weeklong summer camps, and special events. Programs take place in the Highlands Nature Center and adjoining 11-acre Botanical Garden.

This position is essential to the success of the Highlands Nature Center. The Naturalist is responsible for managing daily operations and creating and running a wide variety of programming. They work under the Lead Education Specialist.

$520/week ($13/hr) and on-site housing. The Naturalist will share living quarters with other summer staff in our campus dorms. They will also earn First Aid and CPR certifications. Opportunities to develop on-site curriculum and contribute to displays are available.

The Naturalist will work an average of 40 hours a week. Days may begin as early as 7 AM and end as late as 10:30 PM. Some evenings and Saturdays are required. Willingness to work a flexible schedule is a must. Position dates are May 16 – Aug 12; however, flexibility with dates is possible.


Primary responsibilities include:

  • Opening, staffing, and closing the Nature Center
  • Interpreting the natural history of the southern Appalachians and related exhibits for the general public
  • Developing and presenting environmental educational programs for diverse audiences (e.g. garden tours, creature features, library programs)
  • Assisting with special events and evening programs for the general public
  • Answering questions about local natural areas and recreational opportunities
  • Feeding and handling live exhibit animals (primarily reptiles and amphibians)
  • Cleaning animal enclosures

Other duties include:

  • Handling transactions in the Gift Shop
  • Cleaning and maintaining the Nature Center
  • Driving state and passenger vehicles
  • Setting up and operating A/V systems
  • Supporting additional Nature Center programming as necessary

Education and Experience:
Preference will be given to candidates with a degree (or enrolled in a degree program) in biology, zoology, botany, environmental science, science education, outdoor recreation, or other related fields.

Ideal candidates should have experience in at least one of the following areas: leading public programming; working at a museum, visitor’s center, or similar setting; or handling and caring for animals.

Knowledge and Skills:
Proficiency in dealing with the public is a must. Knowledge of the flora and fauna of the southern Appalachians is very desirable.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands:
The Naturalist will spend time outdoors in all weather and hike up to three miles on uneven terrain. They may be occasionally asked to assist Station or Foundation employees in the office, maintenance shop, or Botanical Garden. These jobs may include heavy lifting (≤ 50 lbs).

Other Qualifications:
Applicants must be U.S. citizens and possess a valid driver’s license. They must also successfully pass a background check.


Apply with a cover letter, resume, and list of 3 professional references with phone numbers and emails via Western Carolina University at https://jobs.wcu.edu/postings/15696 . Applications must be received by March 6th, 2023. For questions, contact Paige Engelbrektsson at paige@highlandsbiological.org

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category Environmental Education, Outdoor Recreation
Tags Naturalist, Nature Center