Job Openings >> Urban Agriculture Instructor
Urban Agriculture Instructor
Title:Urban Agriculture Instructor
Department:Agriculture Instruction

Position Title: Urban Agriculture Instructor

Department: Urban Agriculture Department

Reports to: Urban Agriculture Director

Status: Full Time, year round

Schedule: M-F with a daily schedule between 10am-8pm

Gary Comer Youth Center: Having opened its doors in June 2006, the state-of-the-art Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC) offers positive extracurricular alternatives in a welcoming and safe environment. The mission is to provide the support for all of our youth to graduate from high school, prepared to pursue college and careers. Located on Chicago’s South Side, the Gary Comer Youth Center draws its primary membership from the youth residing on the South Side of Chicago with a focus on Grand Crossing residents. GCYC is the oldest and largest institution sitting on the Comer Education Campus which includes our organizational partners Gary Comer College Prep High School, the South Shore Drill Team and Gary Comer Middle School. For more information, please visit:

Comer Education Campus: With a comprehensive approach to education and youth development, the Comer Education Campus is devoted to guiding young people to and through college and into adult life. The campus constitutes a unique partnership between Gary Comer Youth Center, Gary Comer College Prep, Gary Comer Middle School, and the college success initiative UtmostU. The campus serves over 2,000 youth from across Chicago’s South Side, offering out-of-school time enrichment, academic enhancement, and college success programs. Working with best-in-class partner organizations, the Comer Education Campus empowers young people with the tools they need for post-secondary and life success. For more information, please visit:

Position Summary

The Urban Agriculture Instructor serves as a key member of the innovative urban agriculture initiatives at the Gary Comer Youth Center. The ideal candidate will have a strong background and interest to engage diverse youth with their local environment and to develop opportunities for future leaders in areas such as community development, food access, environmental and social justice, along with broader STEM fields. This is a year-round position within a five-member urban agriculture department. The Urban Agriculture Instructor will develop hands-on, inquiry-based programs for middle and high schoolers to be implemented during in- school and out-of-school-time settings. The instructor will lead teens in work-readiness programs in urban agriculture, landscaping, agriculture-based social enterprises, and related green careers. The Instructor will work alongside teens and young adults in the GCYC network of sustainable outdoor learning environments, which include: a ¼ acre intensive rooftop garden; the Comer Campus, which includes an environmental education garden with woody plants, herbaceous perennials and a culinary garden; along with a 1.75-acre youth education garden featuring a fruit orchard, perennial beds, high tunnels and about 20,000 square feet of vegetable beds.


Essential Functions and Responsibilities

Urban Agriculture

  • Instruct groups of 10 to 20 teens during school, after school and school vacations.
  • Develop and implement urban agriculture curricula and program activities utilizing the GCYC network of gardens.
  • Work both independently and with youth to lead urban agriculture tasks including plant propagation, site preparation/maintenance, planting/transplanting, weed management, integrated pest and disease management, irrigation, harvesting, washing and packing, distribution and food safety.
  • Collaborate with GCYC culinary department to support seed-to-table programming.
  • Assists with the management of part-time instructors, contracted partners and interns.
  • Lead volunteers, groups, tours, workshops and demonstrations.


  • Responsible for maintaining a physically and emotionally safe environment to further ensure proper youth supervision and managing conduct issues and incidents.
  • Attends required staff meetings and trainings.
  • Works with other staff to execute effective outreach, recruitment and retention strategies.
  • Responsible for accurate data collection and data entry for grant and program compliance.
  • Supports the mission of GCYC.
  • Works collaboratively in a team setting serving the needs of youth.
  • Is committed to the safety and development of all GCYC members.
  • Takes on other duties as needed.
  • Serves as a role model for youth and community.
  • Abides by the employee handbook and established GCYC policies and procedures.

Competencies, Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the guidance and discipline principles of positive youth development and the ability to use this knowledge to achieve the goals of the program.
  • Promote an inclusive, welcoming, and respectful environment that embraces diversity.
  • Foster academic and non-academic skills and broaden participant horizons.
  • Demonstrate classroom management skills that are engaging and age appropriate.
  • Demonstrate appropriate conflict resolution strategies.
  • Promote responsible and healthy decision-making among all participants.
  • Develop leadership, team-building and self-advocacy skills among participants.
  • Demonstrate cultural competency with a dedication to working with youth, families and community members.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with students, co-workers, stakeholders and families.
  • Write accurate data-driven reports and communication.
  • Strong organizational project management skills.
  • Analyze and prioritize situations to identify and solve problems.
  • Demonstrate initiative by taking ownership of work and following through.
  • Team oriented, building strong working relationships and a positive work environment.
  • Collaborate effectively by building relationships to accomplish goals.
  • Ability to comply with applicable safety and emergency requirements.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, SharePoint, OneDrive).

Core Competencies

  • Must possess genuine care and concern for youth – especially pre-teens and teens.
  • Program area management skills that are engaging, non-oppressive and age appropriate.
  • Strong project management and organizational skills. Must be able to initiate and finish projects.
  • Able to communicate effectively with youth, co-workers, stakeholders and families in a respectful and culturally competent manner via written and verbal communication.
  • Must enjoy working with teams but can also work independently.
  • Enjoys being the leader but is also confident enough to take directions from others.
  • Must be able to take initiative and problem solve. Must be a creative thinker.
  • Demonstrates strong accuracy in all areas of work.
  • Must possess adaptive vitality.
  • Demonstrates understanding of the positive youth development philosophy.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of guidance and discipline principles & conflict resolution strategies.
  • Must demonstrate cultural competency, dedication to working with youth, families and community members in our care.

Education / Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in agriculture education, environmental science/studies, sustainability or related field required.
  • Minimum of five years’ professional work experience, with a minimum of 2 years working directly with school-aged youth.
  • Minimum of two years’ experience as instructor of urban agriculture or related field in-school or out-of-school classes.
  • Experience leading conservation and stewardship activities with school-aged youth, teens preferred.
  • Knowledge of local flora and fauna, to include trees, shrubs, perennial plants.
  • Experience participating in / leading FFA and other agriculture education programs is preferred.
  • Preference will be given to applicants with significant experience growing food in an urban environment.

Physical Work Requirements & Environment:

The GCYC environment is consistently bustling with youth and community members. The Center’s work is fast paced and varied. Our work is done on site where our youth and families are. Therefore, it is required that team members meet these requirements:

  • Have the ability to lift up to 25 pounds and work outdoors in all types of weather; During the growing seasons, 20 percent of instructor’s time will be spent maintaining the GCYC network of gardens.
  • Possess the ability to walk during field trips and to complete building and program rounds.
  • Be able to stand and move with youth during programs, field trips and special events throughout the day.
  • Must be able to ride various modes of transportation including school and coach buses, airplanes, cars, vans and public transportation.
  • Can operate in crowds or with small groups.
  • Able to complete administrative work in a shared office space within a youth center.
  • A flexible schedule for evening and some weekend hours is required.
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