Assistant Curator of Horticulture

Denver Zoo
Denver, CO 80205
United States

Experience Required
Degree Required
From $54,264 To $66,468
Per Year    
Employment Type
Work Schedule
No Travel

Job Description

Denver Zoo is a leader in animal care, wildlife conservation, and education. We are passionate about our commitment to excellence in support of our mission of Inspiring Communities to Save Wildlife for Future Generations.

Denver Zoo honors our animals, staff, and guests by conducting ourselves at the highest level of integrity through our Core Actions -- Inspire Awe: Safety, Care, Connect and by embracing our Core Values of: Welcoming, Curious, United, Courageous, and Transformative in all that we do.  

The Assistant Curator of Horticulture helps Denver Zoo meet our mission through an innovative and transformative plant community that provides native habitat for local wildlife, helps educate and train our guests on actions they can take at home, and supports the wildlife that call Denver Zoo home. They do so through strong leadership and oversight of the horticulture coordinators and specialists to implement and maintain Denver Zoo’s horticulture master plan. Strong collaboration with teams across the organization is key to a successful implementation and alignment of the horticulture program with the larger conservation goals of the organization.

Our staff is a dedicated and diverse group of individuals committed to providing quality care to our animals while creating moments of awe for guests.  If you are a like-minded individual and thrive in a dynamic, fast paced and innovative culture, Denver Zoo is the place for you! 

Essential Duties and Responsibilities 

Priority 1 – Horticulture Leadership

  • Provide strategic leadership and oversee horticulture staff including scheduling, performance reviews, discipline, accountability, team development, collaborative learning, and policy development.
  • Monitor and document performance evaluations for area staff. Provides ongoing meaningful and critical feedback and coaching to develop staff at all performance levels.  Recognize and address outstanding performance by area team members.
  • Stay current on all departmental needs and communicate proactively and effectively with teams to ensure they have the resources they need, including material resources, time, and information, to do their job effectively.
  • Ensure that horticulture support work is completed to the highest standard for guest experience and animal welfare and is aligned with environmental sustainability goals.

Priority 2 – Compliance

  • Demonstrate a commitment to Denver Zoo’s Sustainability Policies by adhering to all environmental, safety, & health regulations, procedures, and goals.
  • Research and coordinate the Horticulture departments’ Integrated Pest Management Program.

Priority 3 – Operations

  • Successfully lead, monitor, and improve program implementation for horticulture programs with the goal of continuous improvement in the department.
  • Develop and implement job specific staff training. Mentor and guide horticulture staff towards continued professional development.
  • Plan, schedule, coordinate and assign work and established goals and priorities for horticulture staff, volunteers, and interns and with other departments.
  • Participates in snow removal activities as required, including some weekend and evening coverage.
  • Assist in developing, monitoring, and managing the Department budget.
  • Perform administrative responsibilities including credit card reconciliation and purchase invoices and Ordering supplies as needed for area.

Priority 4 – Collaboration

  • Professionally interface with other Denver Zoo team members, zoo colleagues, media partners and other professional organizations.
  • Participate in zoo-wide initiatives such as committees & working groups, and a variety of professional meetings and activities such as steering committees, advisory groups, etc.
  • Interview and select staff including volunteers, interns, horticulture staff that report directly to this position and assist with other interviews as required.
  • Participate in and support conservation, research, and educational programs as requested or desired.

Other Responsibilities and Duties

  • Other assistance, as designated by the Horticulture Curator, to support the overall goals of the department and organization.  Denver Zoo retains the right to add or change duties and/or responsibilities at any time.
  • Supervises the horticulture staff, interns and volunteers.

  • Assists in developing, monitoring, and managing the Department budget. Acts as a good steward of Denver Zoo’s resources.

  • The nature of this position requires safeguarding against the release of confidential and proprietary information of Denver Zoo.

  • This position will interact with managers at all levels and staff members across the organization, in addition to members of external organizations, the media, and the public. 

Job Requirements
B.S. in horticulture or related field

Minimum of 5 years work experience in public horticulture

Minimum of 2 years land management experience.

Minimum of 2 years’ experience supervising and mentoring staff.

Strong plant identification and plant diagnostic skills

Strong leadership, communication, and mentoring skills.

Ability to read and interpret construction documents.

Ability to produce and maintain written records, 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.

Ability to provide constructive feedback to staff, actively listen to staff concerns, apply Denver Zoo policies, critical thinking skills, and empathy when counseling supervised staff and practice the highest level of confidentiality.

Ability to build and maintain professional relationships throughout the Zoo.

Ability to follow directions, work as a team, and work independently.

Experience at a zoo, museum, or botanical garden a plus

Proven computer skills including Microsoft Office Suite are necessary.

Requires superior organizational skills, written and oral communication skills, attention to detail, and ability to prioritize work and tasks.
Requires adaptability to produce and meet deadlines in a fast-paced, multi-task and changing environment, and the ability to work independently and as part of a team.

Must have good negotiation skills and the ability to handle sensitive information with diplomacy.

Must be an outstanding communicator and considered to be a developer of programs who is comfortable working and collaborating with a broad cross section of people in direct and matrixed relationships to drive programs to meet strategic goals.

Experience applying an equitable analysis to all duties to achieve organizational goals and demonstrate the Denver Zoo’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and anti-racism preferred.
Position Conditions

Ability to pass a physical examination, background check and pre-employment drug and alcohol screen.
Heavy Equipment Operation basics needed.
Maintain a Colorado Department of Agriculture Qualified Supervisor License. If not yet certified, obtain within 3 months of start date.
Clear driving record
Schedule Availability: Days. Work on weekends, holidays as assigned and on occasion evenings, as needed.

Work Location: On campus.


Range for this position is $4,522-$5,539 (monthly).


This is a full-time position with excellent benefits including medical, dental and vision benefits; life insurance; short term and long-term disability; 403(b) retirement plan; and vacation and sick leave.

Application Process and Timelines

Open until filled. Review of applications will begin immediately. Denver Zoo reserves the right to close the position prior to this date.

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and others who identify as nonwhite, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and those with lived experience with racism and/or misogynoir are encouraged to apply for this role.

Denver Zoo is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected status or any other characteristic protected by law.