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Chicago Master Gardener

A blog for Chicago Master Gardeners providing information on volunteer opportunities, training, workshops and resources.

Native Seed Collection Jobs

Posted by Ron Wolford -

Dear native plant enthusiast,

We coordinate the Millennium Seed Bank Project, an international conservation project headed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew ( that aims to collect seeds from 10% of the world's flora by 2010. By drying, sealing and freezing the seeds, their longevity can be extended for decades and even centuries for many species (200 years on average).

Our project is storing seeds for long-term conservation, mostly for "what-if scenarios" such as extinctions due to global climate change or habitat destruction, but a portion can be requested by qualified groups for restoration or research. At the Chicago Botanic Garden we are undertaking the ambitious task of collecting 1,500 native species from the Midwest and Great Plains.

Our general collecting protocol follows: we collect 3,000 to 20,000 seeds from a single population for each species, never taking more than 20% of the available seed at the time of collection. We collect from at least 50 individuals (more is better) to maximize genetic diversity.

We don't collect threatened, endangered or locally rare species for the MSB project. In addition to harvesting seeds, we collect at least 2 herbarium vouchers and record additional location/habitat data for each collection.

In order to meet our goal of seed banking native species for the MSB project, we want to collect seed from 300 species in this year. Because of the large geographic territory involved, as well as the large number of species to collect, we are recruiting and funding individuals who live locally throughout our target territory to help us in this effort by serving as "contract botanists" with the Chicago Botanic Garden.

If you are aware of any botanists, amateur botanists, interns, volunteers or otherwise poor, starving graduate students who are knowledgeable about their local flora and would like to earn money by seed collecting for our project, please let either of us know, or feel free to pass along this email and our contact information.

We are compensating contract botanists with $50/ collection (compensation increases with the more collecting that occurs) and reimbursing them for mileage. We would provide training for these individuals and more information on the MSB project at CBG can be found at

Thank you so much for your time and help.

Betsy Allen and Emily Yates

Millennium Seed Bank Coordinators

Chicago Botanic Garden

1000 Lake Cook Rd.

Glencoe, IL 60022

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