Director of Horticulture and Grounds

Organization: Denver Zoo (AZA Member)
Location: Denver, CO, Country
Job or Internship: Job

At Denver Zoo, our mission is to secure a better world for animals through human understanding. We are a respected leader in animal care and exhibition, conservation programs, scientific study, environmental education and public service.


This position advances Denver Zoo’s mission and goals by providing leadership for all aspects of the Department of Horticulture and Grounds Maintenance.

Essential Functions:

• Collaborate with Facility Group leadership team to advance the Facility Group’s culture and goals.

• Develops, directs, and maintains all programs, functions, and activities of a horticulture program. Sets guidelines and maintains standards for plant care and the general appearance of the zoo grounds. Develops animal exhibit landscapes, plant collections, seasonal plant displays, and attractively landscape grounds. Appropriately allocates resources in accordance to policies and annual budget.

• Participates in planning all landscape and horticulture-related elements of new and renovated zoo facilities by providing consultation and input in design development.. Develops and directs conceptual plans; develops plant lists; lay out and designs planting areas and irrigation systems; locates and obtains/purchases plant materials as required for facility project development/renovation, and for general grounds landscaping. Works to incorporate the plant collection in the zoo visitor experience.

• Purchases and tests on-site plants not readily available in the local nursery trade, to determine their suitability for growing at the Denver Zoo as appropriate.

• Directs the recording of all permanent plantings and irrigation improvements in the zoo’s facility.

• Develops and directs Grounds Maintenance program. Manages, through the Grounds Supervisor, the trash pick-up, recycling, and trash removal programs in conjunction with the zoo’s waste-to-energy system. Ensures an effective snow removal response is in place and can be activated as appropriate.

• Works with the animal staff to develop and document an animal nutrition supplement and/or enrichment program, utilizing plants and plant parts. Plans and implements applied botanical and horticultural research projects as appropriate.

• Plans and implements a horticulture and grounds maintenance training program for high school students in conjunction with local and regional partners.

• Plans and implements programs that offer horticulture and grounds maintenance opportunities for Denver Zoo volunteers.

Additional Responsibilities:

 Perform various tasks as assigned.


 A minimum of a 4-year degree in Horticulture from an accredited college or university. A minimum of 5 years professional horticulture experience in a zoo or aquarium, botanical garden, arboretum, or other public horticulture facility. Additional years of professional horticulture experience may be substituted for up to 2 years of academic training.

 Demonstrated ability in and working knowledge of management, budget planning, staff development and supervision. Working knowledge of current horticulture, arboriculture, and irrigation practices sufficient to develop animal exhibit landscapes, plant collections, seasonal plant displays, and attractively landscape grounds that serve to further the zoo’s overall mission and that effectively support short- and long-range zoo goals and objectives.

 Demonstrated ability to develop and implement horticultural management plans sufficient to insure plant health care goals and objectives are met.

 Demonstrated ability to develop and implement a grounds maintenance program, recycling program, and conservation programs relative to efficient water use.

 Demonstrated ability to work closely and cooperatively with others, both within and outside the organization.

 Proficiency in both written and oral communication skills.

 Ability to produce and maintain written records, ability to produce and interpret plans and simple landscape drawings; ability to read, interpret, and apply organizational policy and procedures and other written guidelines to work functions, and to work independently.

Please apply at: