Learning Specialist

Organization: John G. Shedd Aquarium (AZA Member)
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Job or Internship: Job

Job Family




FLSA Status




Salary Range


Health, Dental, 401(k), Paid Holidays, Vacation

Position Summary

The Learning Specialist uses creativity, promising instructional practices and evaluation data to design, implement and authentically evaluate programs that support various levels of Shedd's learning framework. He/She utilizes learner-centered teaching strategies to encourage learners of all ages to think critically about the natural world and their place in it, actively seeks out relevant content knowledge and evaluates learning using authentic and formal assessment techniques. The Learning Specialist demonstrates ownership and autonomy in each program cycle while contributing to a culture of collaboration. He/She actively participates in reflective activities as it relates to their instructional quality. This position is primarily responsible for facilitating learning experiences at Shedd, in the field, in local communities and in online environments.

Responsibilities and Duties

Demonstrate leadership in accordance with Shedd's mission and values.

Programming & Evaluation Responsibilities:

Develop immersive programs aligned to programmatic goals and outcomes

Facilitate learner-centered programs with minimal environmental impact, engaging learners through multisensory, dynamic and authentic experiences

Research instructional strategies, content knowledge and current programmatic data to achieve program goals and outcomes

Apply a working knowledge of current models and philosophies of science and environmental education and solid content knowledge in support of Shedd's learning framework

Utilize resources such as live animals, local natural areas and technology (including data loggers, interactive whiteboards, and online software) for programming

Demonstrate flexibility and adaptability to be used in working across programmatic suites, including team projects, program development, teaching, etc.

Maintain resources, materials and programming spaces, including assisting with ordering of supplies, equipment, and materials as needed

Monitor and evaluate learning using authentic assessment tools in alignment with program evaluation plan, adapting instruction as needed. Collect evaluation data as required with the assistance of the coordinator

Participate in project related trainings to ensure preparedness to develop and implement portfolio-specific programs while insuring consistency of learning experiences

Strategic Relationships

Maintain strategic relationships with collaborative partners and other pertinent organizations and facilitate strategic recruitment for program participation

Professional Development Growth

Demonstrate a commitment to professional and personal growth by initiating dialogue with colleagues, engaging in self-directed learning and focusing on professional development goals


Participate in Aquarium wide and interdepartmental teams, projects or meetings as needed

Fulfill other duties as required


College Graduate


1 - 2 Years Experience

Describe experience

Bachelor's degree in life science, environmental science, education, museum studies or a related field

Minimum 2 years teaching experience in either a formal or informal setting


Experience working in team-based environments

Excellent written and oral communication skills; fluency in Spanish desirable

Excellent organizational and time management skills

Must be able to work irregular hours including occasional evenings, weekends and overnight programs/events

Willingness to be trained to handle animals for education programs.

Willingness to implement aquatic science programs aboard research vessels and/or in wilderness settings for up to three consecutive weeks.

Must possess strong swimming skills.

Must be physically able to do heavy lifting (up to 50 lbs.) to transport equipment and facilitate program activities such as canoeing, hiking, etc.

A valid driver's license


1-2 years prior informal outdoor/science education teaching experience working with diverse audiences in urban and wilderness settings.

CPR and first aid certification (advanced wilderness/outdoor training a plus)

Snorkeling experience.

Technology experience beyond basic computer skills and willingness to learn new technologies.

A personal vehicle (and auto insurance) to travel to/from program sites.

Must be of legal age to rent a car.


The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Lift up to 50 pounds







Outdoor activities that may include (but are not limited to): canoeing, kayaking, hiking, etc.

Animal handling (with proper training)

Work Environment

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

This person may be exposed to:


Exposure to the elements in an outdoor/wilderness setting

Low noise

Moderate Noise

Loud Noise