Plant Nursery Technician (Joshua Tree NP)

Great Basin Institute

Twentynine Palms, California

Job Type Temporary
Salary Details $19.00/hr to $22.50/hr DOE

In cooperation with the National Park Service at Joshua Tree National Park (JOTR), the Great Basin Institute is recruiting a Plant Nursery Technician to assist plant propagation efforts. The technician will propagate grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees for restoration plantings at JOTR and other federal lands in the Mojave Desert. The Technician will work closely with the NPS nursery manager and may work with NPS volunteers and youth conservation crews on nursery propagation and planting projects. Work will also involve coordinating with other federal agencies to meet needs for plant materials. Ability to work as a team is required. Ability to identify plants to genus-species-variety level is required. Applicant must be able to read and follow detailed directions such as seed germination protocols and pass a federal background check. Greenhouse work can be repetitive and monotonous.

Tasks at the nursery consist of plant propagation and general greenhouse operations including maintenance. Plant propagation may include but is not limited to: soil mixing, seed collection, seed cleaning, seed storage, seed treatments to promote germination, seeding flats, transplanting, rooting cuttings, watering plants, weeding, pruning, moving plants through greenhouses to the shade house/outdoor compound, plant inventory and record keeping, irrigation setup, irrigation checks and repair, cleaning pots, pest control including control of rodents, aphids, gnats, and other plant pests. Greenhouse operations include use of various hand tools (trowels, pruners, rakes, shovels, pipe wrenches, hammers, wire cutters) and power tools (air compressor, powered wheelbarrow, backpack blower). Operations include deploying and repairing shade cloth, programming and operating irrigation timers, construction and repair of water systems including control valves, overhead sprinklers and misters, emitters, tubing and PVC supply lines, and submersible pumps, operation of swamp coolers and wet walls including pad cleaning and replacement, filter cleaning, and seasonal servicing. Applicant must have the ability to follow instructions to assemble items such as greenhouse tables, nursery carts, shelving, etc., and must be comfortable on ladders up to 15’ in height.

The technician will assist with restoration planting projects.  Other field work could include scouting plant populations for seed collection. The technician will be required to operate a 4x4 vehicle in backcountry on dirt/gravel and rocky roads.

As part of the Vegetation Branch Team, the technician may also assist park staff with vegetation monitoring, invasive plant control including Early Detection Rapid Response, vegetation management using herbicide, and reclaiming damaged areas impacted by vehicles traveling off-road.

Contract Timeline:

  • 12-month appointment beginning January 2024, or pending availability and completion of DOI Background Investigation;
  • Potential to extend pending available funding and positive performance review
  • Full time, 40 hours per week, possibly including some weekends

Joshua Tree National Park encompasses nearly 800,000 acres in southern California, 2- to 3-hour drive from Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Joshua Tree National Park is of special management concern, lying in the transition of the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. Aside from the outdoor recreation opportunities and natural wonders within the park, Death Valley and Grand Canyon National Parks, the Mojave Preserve, as well as Lake Mead and Spring Mountains National Recreation Areas are nearby and afford a diversity of outdoor activities ranging from hiking, mountain biking and rock hounding to fishing, boating and skiing/snowboarding.

Field conditions at Joshua Tree include hot, arid days with high exposure to the sun, as well as cold, winter weather. Terrain varies from sandy desert washes to steep rocky slopes, including navigating through large boulder fields. Resources of the region include threatened and/or endangered species habitat, big game habitats, abandoned mine lands, and historic and prehistoric cultural sites.

Compensation and Benefits:

  • $19.00 to $22.50 per hour depending on experience
  • Fully covered Health, Vision and Dental Benefits
  • Field per diem for camping
  • Paid leave and holidays

Job Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in horticulture, botany, or other plant or crop science, restoration ecology, biology, environmental science, or related discipline, or 12 months work experience in a plant nursery;
  • Valid, state-issued driver’s license and familiarity driving 4WD vehicles on unimproved roads and pulling a trailer.
  • Experience with seed germination, rooting cuttings, and plant propagation, and general greenhouse-nursery-horticulture work including transplanting, mixing soils, watering, and fertilizing;
  • Experience with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and/or pest and disease management;
  • Ability to identify native and non-native plants to genus, species, and, when applicable, variety level using botanical dichotomous keys;
  • Comfortable with performing repetitive tasks on a regular basis; including activities involving bending, lifting and moving plants and greenhouse equipment, watering and working in outdoor conditions;
  • Motivated, self-directed, organized, and detail oriented in order to balance multiple tasks simultaneously and record accurate data; 
  • Ability to communicate professionally and effectively, both written and orally, with a diverse audience;
  • Willingness and ability to work outdoors, hike long distances (up to 10 miles round trip) carrying up to 25 pounds, and lift, carry and use equipment in harsh, variable desert conditions;
  • Experience using tablets or similar devices for data collection and navigation is desirable;
  • Ability to read and navigate using topographic maps and a compass is desirable;
  • Experience using ArcGIS software, including ArcMap and ArcCollector or Field Maps is desirable; 
  • Successful applicant must complete a Department of Interior (DOI) Background Investigation (BI) or submit paperwork to NPS human resources indicating an active and fully adjudicated BI has already been completed prior to beginning position. If you already have a fully adjudicated BI, please let us know in your application. 

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Category Botany
Tags GIS, Entomology, Soil Science