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Learning Exploration Manager

Lincoln Park Zoological Society
Schiller Park, Illinois, US
Closing date
Sep 19, 2023

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Lincoln Park Zoo inspires communities to create environments where wildlife will thrive in our urbanizing world. The zoo is a leader in local and global conservation, animal care and welfare, learning, and science. A historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, the not-for-profit Lincoln Park Zoo, is a privately-managed, member-supported organization and is free and open 365 days a year. Visit us at


The Learning Exploration Manager will lead two teams: Learning Exploration and Teen Programs. The Teen Programs team is committed to providing rigorous and fun learning experiences for youth in a safe environment that promotes development of 21st century skills and awareness of zoo careers. Learning Exploration staff create rapid prototypes for new educational programs as needs arise, in alignment with the zoo's strategic plan. Managers support program development by establishing mutually beneficial partnerships, setting goals for growth, supporting staff professional development, and tracking innovative approaches to conservation education. Over the coming year, this manager will: Lead teambuilding and training activities to promote a culture of inclusion, creativity, and respect among staff members; Set goals for thoughtful program growth while being aware of staff capacity; Guide program development aligned with the Learning Framework and strategic plan (future directions could include teen travel, programs designed to promote behavior change, and advocacy related to Take Action With Us messages).

You might be a great fit for this position if you:

  • Take a flexible approach in guiding staff through new program creation
  • Focus on equity and accessibility in youth programs
  • Are interested in pushing the envelope to be on the leading edge of promising practices
  • Enjoy connecting with scientists to translate their work to audiences of all ages
This position has some flexibility to work from home (up to 2 days per week if programs are not scheduled). When field trips or internships are running, working hours will be performed on-site at the zoo or offsite at school/community locations as needed.

Compensation: $57,000

Essential Job Functions
  • Leadership of teen programs: Work with the Teen Programs Coordinator & Facilitator, Director of Child, Teen and Family Engagement, and other zoo colleagues to effectively run summer teen internships (7 weeks) and year-round programs. Ensure that the logistics and curriculum of teen programs are of high quality, align with the Learning Department framework, and support the mission and vision of Lincoln Park Zoo.
  • Leadership of Learning Exploration programs: Work with the Learning Exploration Coordinator to oversee development, implementation and evaluation of innovative, creative and effective environmental and science education programming for teens and audiences of all ages. Ensure that programs are aligned with promising practices and support the Learning Department framework and mission and vision of Lincoln Park Zoo.
  • Leads program planning, resourcing, staffing, partner and people management, and progress reporting
  • Collaborate as a member of the Learning Department manager team to contribute to departmental long-term planning, represent the department throughout the zoo, provide leadership among staff, schedule and lead meetings, and coordinate staff professional development opportunities.
  • Responsible for budget, revenue, and expenditures for a wide array of programs; work collaboratively with the Director of Child, Teen and Family Engagement to support Development Department in funder proposals, reports and ongoing stewardship.
  • Creatively and collaboratively problem solves with patience and a solutions-focused mindset
  • Communicates and approves program changes with partners and zoo staff
  • Leads team in evaluation efforts in collaboration with the manager of evaluation and learning research
  • Develops training for new employees, teens, and colleagues when needed
  • Collaborates with departmental leadership and colleagues to support and contribute to cross-team programs, initiatives, and events
  • As supervisor for two Coordinators:
    • Conduct weekly check-in meetings to discuss schedules, logistics, and action items related to program delivery
    • Provide on-going and timely coaching and feedback
    • Serve as a collaborator and joint problem-solver when challenges arise with program participants or activities
    • Organize professional growth opportunities for staff, including team retreats and department-wide professional development days
    • Prepare annual & mid-year performance appraisals to give feedback on how performance aligns with zoo values
    • Plan ahead to support success with delivering multiple concurrent programs, anticipating and avoiding capacity bottlenecks

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
  • Proven ability to manage people, processes, and complex projects while inspiring creativity and innovation.
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills
  • Knowledge of trends in both teen programs and the informal education sphere more broadly; knowledge of program-based conservation trends preferred.
  • Ability to function and provide leadership in a multi-task environment
  • Ability to communicate professionally (written and oral) with a wide range of departments and stakeholders, internal and external.
  • Outcome driven and familiar with using data to inform programmatic decisions and discussions
  • Commitment to Lincoln Park Zoo's vision and mission and desire to proudly serve as a representative of the zoo
  • Demonstrate high levels of empathy with staff, partners, volunteers, and program participants
  • Thrives in a dynamic environment where high value is placed on creative problem-solving and adeptly supporting team members and communities
Learning Requirements

Bachelor's degree in non-profit management, biology or environmental science, education, or a related field is required.

NOTE: A comparable combination of education, experience or training that would provide the level of knowledge, skills and ability required may qualify an individual.

Experience Requirements
  • Minimum 5 years of experience managing informal or environmental education programs and 3 years of staff supervisory experience
  • Experience in teaching, program development and curriculum design in an informal science institution or formal classroom setting

NOTE: A comparable combination of education, experience or training that would provide the level of knowledge, skills and ability required may qualify an individual.

Additional Requirements
  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination
  • Available to work special events that may occur outside of regular work schedule, including evenings, weekends or holidays, as assigned.

Lincoln Park Zoo is committed to an environment that is inclusive and welcoming. We celebrate the diverse qualities, perspectives, values and experiences of all people. For Wildlife. For All.

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