Two Great Locations, One Organization

Job Openings

Student Caretaker Position at Nichols Arboretum. Live and Work in the Arb!

Learn More and Apply for the Caretaker Position

General Job Description: Caretakers work at least 10 hours a week at the
Arboretum in exchange for free lodging (with the exception of internet/cable) at
either the historic Burnham House/Reader Center at our Washington Heights
entrance or at the caretaker cottage near the center of the Arboretum (depending on
which has current vacancy).

Caretakers assist in many facets of caring for the Arboretum property:

• Invasive plant removal and herbicide application, trail maintenance, visitor rule
enforcement, trash pick-up and collection, tool maintenance, garden and natural
areas stewardship, clearing snow, lawn mowing, and other tasks as assigned.
• Assisting with special events, such as Shakespeare in the Arb and plant sales.
• Leading bi-monthly, and other eco-workdays, with volunteer groups at the
Arboretum and Matthaei Botanical Gardens location.

Job Duration: May 18, 2020- May 18, 2021, positions may be renewed annually
until graduation. Dates are approximate and may flex a bit based on schedules.

Compensation: Free lodging and utilities (with the exception of internet/cable) at
the Arboretum.

Required Qualifications:

  • U-M graduate student with a good work ethic, enthusiasm for teamwork,
    and a willingness to learn. Junior, senior class may be considered.
  • A passion for outdoor work, sustainability, and the environment.
  • A good working knowledge of local plants and ecosystems (native to
    Eastern US). Other skills in areas such as trail building and repair and
    ecological restoration would also be valuable.
  • An ability to work as a team, with the public, and often independently with
    minimal staff supervision.
  • An ability to perform manual labor, including some transporting over 40 lbs
  • Prompt and clear communication with all team members and supervisor.
  • Applicants should be able to drive a tractor (training will be provided) and
    to operate additional maintenance equipment (chainsaw, mower, etc) when
    necessary. Valid driver’s license also required.
  • Other Considerations: Both apartments are unfurnished. Parking is provided at the field office near the caretaker cottage. We will consider married couples who both want to work as caretakers.
Caretaker cottage

The caretakers’ cottage in Nichols Arboretum.

Reader Center at Nichols Arboretum

The Reader Center at Nichols Arboretum.

Additional Information

Our Vision: We will be the center for rich and diverse nature-based experiences for the University of Michigan and its surrounding communities. We will provide exceptionally beautiful gardens and natural areas for enjoyment. We will train a new generation of
environmental leaders in sustainability, conservation and ecological restoration and engage research that deepens our understanding of plants, ecology, and the role of nature in our lives.

Our Mission: Promoting environmental enjoyment, stewardship and sustainability through education, research and interaction with the natural world.

We believe diversity strengthens our ability to accomplish this mission. For more information about Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, please visit

U-M EEO/AA Statement The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

How to Apply:

Please email a cover letter and current resume with three references to: HR & Financial Coordinator, Rachel Bernecker with “Nichols Arboretum Caretaker 2020” in the subject line

Student Work-Study Positions:

Each academic year, we hire dozens of work study students for paid positions in all areas of our organization- Visitor Engagement, Natural Areas/Horticulture, Facilities/Grounds, Education, Campus Farm, GIS and more!  To see current openings for work-study positions at Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum please visit the UM Student Employment website.  Find our postings by filtering your search to show Work-Study positions for Botanical Gardens and Arboretum.

We believe diversity strengthens our ability to achieve our mission.  The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.  

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to receive updates on news and events.