Starhill Forest Arboretum Arborist

Job Title: Starhill Forest Arboretum Arborist

Department:Starhill Forest Arboretum

Reports to:Arboretum Founders

Status:Full Time, Salaried Exempt

Date Last Revised: August 2019

Contact: Guy Sternberg at

Illinois College is a residential, private liberal arts college located in historic Jacksonville, Illinois, 70 miles northeast of Saint Louis, Missouri, and 30 miles west of Springfield, the Illinois State Capitol. True to its founding vision in 1829, Illinois College is a community committed to the highest standards of scholarship and integrity in the liberal arts. Illinois College promotes academic freedom, equality of opportunity, and human dignity through an increasingly diverse student population including significant numbers of underrepresented students. The College develops in its students qualities of mind and character needed for fulfilling lives of leadership and service, fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success.

Established in 1976, Starhill Forest Arboretum consists of 50 acres in rural Menard County, Illinois, approximately 15 miles northwest of Springfield. It is a classic forest arboretum with many naturalized plantings. Starhill Forest includes upland and floodplain soil habitats, streams, two ponds, varied soil types, and slopes facing all directions, providing ideal growing conditions for many different tree and shrub species. Sixty species of woody plants grow spontaneously within the arboretum and another 2000+ taxa have been established there. The primary scientific feature at Starhill Forest is its APGA-recognized oak (Quercus) collection, which is the most comprehensive such collection of this genus in the country and one of 20 National Collections in North America. Over 150 other genera also are represented in the living collections.

These institutions became partners in 2008 when a formal agreement was finalized, ensuring the long-term care of this world-class plant collection. The Arboretum now serves as a beautiful outdoor classroom and research site to be utilized and enjoyed by Illinois College students, faculty, and other supporters of the college and Starhill Forest. 


This is an excellent career opportunity to expand plant knowledge while working with the arboretum founders as they transition this internationally known arboretum to a college-affiliated institution. The Arboretum Arborist reports directly to the Arboretum founders but is an official member of the staff of Illinois College with full benefits.

Essential Functions

The following list of duties is meant to be representative of the work performed in this position. The omission of a specific duty or responsibility will not preclude it from the position if the work is similar, related or a logical extension of position responsibilities. 

The Arboretum Arborist is responsible for maintaining the Arboretum in an aesthetically pleasing and ecologically sound manner by:

  • Performing and overseeing routine grounds maintenance activities including mowing, weeding, mulching, pruning, brush and tree removal as needed, and control of invasive exotic plants.
  • Maintaining the Arboretum tree collection including planting, labeling, watering as needed, integrated pest management, and general plant health care.
  • Having a working understanding of the collection database and mapping system.
  • Assisting with events for the public, researchers, students, interns, and other appropriate individuals and groups as they participate in scheduled tours, study experiences, and other activities. 
  • Working with Arboretum staff and associates on collaborative projects with other organizations.
  • Performing basic structural and mechanical work.
  • Assuring that the Arboretum’s physical assets including infrastructure and equipment are maintained in good working order.
  • Using and maintaining, properly and safely, various hand tools as well as outdoor power equipment such as loaders, mowers, tree digging machines, chippers, planting augers, and chainsaws.
  • Working effectively in a position having seasonal time flexibility.
  • Performing other duties as may be required.


  • High school graduate or equivalent, required.
  • Associate’s Degree or higher, preferably in horticulture, landscape architecture, environmental sciences, landscape design or related area, required. 
  • Three years’ experience in tree maintenance and care, required. 
  • Possession of valid driver’s license and evidence of insurability, required.
  • Possession of International Society of Arboriculture arborist certification, required within 1 year of employment.
  • Possession of Illinois Department of Agriculture commercial pesticide applicator license, required within 30 days of employment.
  • Ability to follow written and verbal instructions and perform with minimal supervision. 
  • Ability to work from ladders.
  • Possession of basic computer skills.
  • Evidence of strong interpersonal skills and success in having worked effectively with professionals, students, the public, and volunteers.
  • Ability to properly use and maintain arboretum equipment and to perform strenuous outdoor work as needed year-round. 
  • Basic knowledge of Illinois flora, ability to identify and cultivate tree taxa, and ability to do aerial tree work are highly desirable.

Other Requirements

  • Must demonstrate reliability and responsibility.
  • Must be covered by a health insurance plan at all times while employed in this classification.
  • Must be willing to respond to emergencies in off-hours if necessary.
  • Must possess sufficient strength and stamina to handle the physical demands of the job, including repeatedly lifting and carrying trees, logs, equipment, or materials weighing up to 75 pounds.
  • Must be able and willing to work evenings, weekends, and/or nights occasionally, and outdoors in all seasons. 
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