Nursery Manager

Santa Barbara
Full Time
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

A Day in the Life:

As Nursery Manager, you direct and control all operations of our behind-the-scenes container nursery facility at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. You manage the production of California native plants for: the Garden’s Living Collection, ecological restoration contracts, horticultural research projects, our on-site retail nursery, oversight of SBBG Plant Introduction Program cultivars, and supervision of duties carried out by the Propagator, assistants, and volunteers. The position is responsible for meeting all annual propagation goals, producing tens of thousands of plants each year for distribution to the Garden, contract partners, and plant sales. You will regularly collaborate with the Living Collections Curator, Grounds Manager, and the Director of Horticulture to make decisions regarding the diversity of the Garden’s Living Collection, and you will participate in plant collecting trips, as needed, to harvest seed or collect plant material for entry into the nursery. The Nursery Manager strives to promote the Garden as a leader in the propagation, care, and growing of California native plants, and educates the public about their importance in accordance with our mission. This full-time (40 hours per week) non-exempt position, reports to the Director of Horticulture & Operations.  Please include a cover letter with your application materials.

The Team:

Our Horticulture & Operations department team members are highly skilled and passionate about their work.   Our department includes teams of Gardeners & Grounds technicians, as well as Facilities, Plant Collections, Retail Shop and Guest Services colleagues. We are fortunate to have folks with a variety of backgrounds, including grounds staff with more than 20 years of experience, to those new to the native plant world.  Working with our Living Collections Curator and our Grounds Manager, under the direction of our Director of Horticulture & Operations, you will serve a very important role on an amazing team that is committed to our mission of conserving native plants & habitat for the health & well-being of people & the planet!

 What You’ll Do:

  • Establish seasonal benchmarks and manage annual production goals to produce tens of thousands of native plants for installation in the Garden’s Living Collection, external restoration contracts, on-site horticultural research initiatives, and retail nursery sales.
  • Oversee the Garden’s Propagator in collecting and growing activities: seed collection and processing, harvesting and rooting vegetative cuttings, preparing soil media, up potting/transplanting, running irrigation, pruning, pest and disease troubleshooting, fertilizing and distributing high-quality plants.
  • Interview, train, and manage volunteers in aforementioned nursery tasks.
  • With support from the Facilities team, manage and maintain all Nursery systems and structures including: greenhouse and mist table; shade house; upper and lower can yards; seed processing and storage room; perimeter landscaping; indoor office spaces; irrigation controller, water softener, and other environmental controls, etc.
  • Work with Director of Horticulture & Operations to develop budgets for infrastructure upgrades, annual operating expenses, and revenue targets.
  • Manage maintenance of all Nursery tools and equipment, including hand tools, power tools, and equipment associated with seed cleaning, processing, and storage.
  • Work with Nursery Operations staff to ensure a safe and efficient work environment in all spaces, at all times. Regularly inspect work areas and report any issues. Manage progress of construction and impact on Nursery activities.
  • Work with Nursery Operations staff to maintain up-to-date Nursery Safety Manual, chemical/material inventories, Safety Data Sheets, and other safety documentation.
  • Work with Nursery Operations staff to ensure accurate and comprehensive records, including: contract reporting and documentation; collection and propagation activities; crop notes and plant inventory tracking.
  • Collaborate with Horticulture & Facilities management teams to discuss weekly operational updates: Director of Horticulture & Operations, Grounds Manager, Facilities Manager, Living Collections Curator, and Retail Manager.
  • Plan, lead and join plant collecting trips, both on and off-site, to obtain propagules for Living Collection and other requests.
  • May occasionally write articles and produce content for the Garden’s newsletters, website and social media outlets as requested.
  • Participate in the Garden’s education programs by teaching appropriate classes and conducting field trips as schedule allows.

You Must Be Able To

  • Operate mechanical equipment and tools used in the area of work assigned, including: tractors, work trucks and carts, power tools, specialty labeling equipment, and irrigation controllers
  • Work both independently, with minimal supervision, and as part of a team
  • Work well with others, establishing and maintaining positive and effective working relationships
  • Multi-task and manage time to meet deadlines and priorities
  • Perform a variety of manual tasks for extended periods of time
  • Sit for up to 2.0 hours at a time and using computer for lengthy periods
  • Stand/walk for extended periods of time including frequent bending, squatting, stooping, kneeling, crouching and reaching; ability to climb stairs and walk SBBG trails
  • Lift and carry 50 lbs.

You Will Definitely Need

  • Expertise in techniques of plant propagation and plant production, including sexual/asexual propagation and overall nursery operations
  • Extensive knowledge of California native plants, including interest in propagating and protecting both rare and more common species
  • Supervisory experience (minimum of 1 year)
  • Knowledge of and adherence to prevent occupational hazards and standard safety practices
  • Excellent organizational skills, attention to detail, and accuracy in reporting
  • Excellent communication skills – communicating clearly, concisely, and professionally, both verbally and in writing
  • Strong record-keeping skills and computer skills, including use of Microsoft Suite software
  • A valid California driver’s license
  • State of California Qualified Applicator License or ability to obtain one within 6 months of hire 

It Would Be Nice if You Had:

  • An Associate degree or higher in Horticulture, plant propagation or a related field, OR a minimum of three-years professional experience in a similar role
  • Spanish fluency (not necessary, but we would love this!)
  • Public garden or museum experience

More About Us:

The Garden is a beautiful place to work!  And in this role, you are often outdoors.  In addition to beautiful views, birds, and adorable chipmunks, outdoor work environments also include exposure to extreme temperature fluctuations, rain, dust, allergens, poison oak, insects, small wild animals, and sun exposure.


The employee must be able to perform the essential functions of the position satisfactorily, and if requested, reasonable accommodations will be made to enable employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their job, absent undue hardship.


Please apply on our website.


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