Job Opportunities

Join the team at Heritage Farm!

For more than 43 years, Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit, nationally-focused organization based in the Driftless Region on the outskirts of Decorah, Iowa (near where Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota converge on the Mississippi), has focused on conserving and promoting America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations. Seed Savers Exchange was a pioneer in the advocacy for preserving these heirloom varieties for generations to come, and is committed to keeping these varieties where they belong—in our gardens and on our tables.

Please email a cover letter, resumé, and the contact information for three references to - include the name of the position in the subject line of your email. Applications may also be mailed to: Seed Savers Exchange | Attn: Lynne Rilling | 3094 North Winn Rd. | Decorah, IA 52101.

We are an equal opportunity employer.

Current Opportunities

President and Executive Director
Collection Inventory Manager
Field Crew and Order Fulfillment (Part Time)

President and Executive Director

In the last century, the world has lost 75% of its edible plant varieties. In this climate of rapidly declining biodiversity, Seed Savers Exchange has risen, grown, evolved, and ushered in an era of increased awareness and commitment to using diverse seed varieties at home and in the marketplace.

Since 1975, Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) has been committed to conserving and promoting America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations. Based in Decorah, Iowa, this nonprofit organization has a national membership of over 13,000 individuals, manages an annual budget of $6M, and employs over 50 full-time staff. Along with its programming, SSE maintains Heritage Farm, where staff curate and grow more than 30,000 varieties of seeds for evaluation and preservation, raise heritage livestock breeds, and welcome 12,000 – 14,000 visitors each year on 890 scenic acres. Heritage Farm is a model for sustainable farming and plays an important role preserving native species and habitats, including a stream with a population of native brook trout as well as mature hardwood forests that provide habitat for rare plant species and migratory songbirds. Seed Savers Exchange is located in the Driftless Area of Northeastern Iowa, characterized by steep bluffs and spring-fed streams and a landscape mosaic of natural areas and small, diverse farms. Decorah is a regional center with a small liberal arts college and excellent public schools. The city has a vibrant, entrepreneurial spirit with organic farms, brew pubs, and a thriving arts scene.

SSE has an active Board of Directors comprised of distinguished and dedicated individuals from across the country. Additionally, trusted advisors lend their expertise and insights to the board and staff as needed.

Seed Savers Exchange is seeking a strategic and collaborative leader who will cultivate authentic and trusting relationships; leverage and build upon the strengths of the staff, board, advisors, and stakeholders; and calmly and fearlessly lead this highly complex organization with energy, openness, and creativity.

As a nonprofit, Seed Savers Exchange aims to conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.

This position provides a great opportunity for an individual who is passionate about Seed Savers’ mission, who embraces the opportunity to promote a vibrant organization that is adaptive, collaborative, and empowered, and who is eager to engage with the vital community and scenic environment of Northeast Iowa.

Seed Savers Exchange is looking for a new executive leader with the following attributes:

  • A dynamic and entrepreneurial individual with an open, engaging, and thoughtful leadership style who can cultivate an organizational culture marked by transparent, authentic, and trusting relationships.
  • A skilled, pragmatic leader who can manage the change and unpredictability inherent in a business affected by weather and seasonality; who can nimbly and responsively take effective action; and who can also hold the big strategic picture.
  • A confident, capable individual with the capacity and drive to learn the business of running an ecologically sustainable farming operation while simultaneously leading a national nonprofit.
  • A team builder, people-person, and compassionate whole-hearted leader who fosters an organizational environment of stability and sustainability.
  • An excellent communicator with proven ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, with a broad range of constituencies. Approachable and empathic.
  • Someone who has worked with and has respect for diverse communities and people of all ages and stations in life; a person who interacts authentically with board members, staff, advisors, customers, community and business leaders, funders, volunteers, political figures, government officials, and other stakeholders.
Reporting to the Seed Savers Exchange Board of Directors, the President/Executive Director is responsible for facilitating implementation of the organization’s strategic direction while providing guidance and leadership for its day-to-day operations. Major responsibilities include the following:

Strategic Leadership

  • Lead, coach, and collaborate with the management team toward implementation of the organization’s strategic goals.
  • Establish effective and regular communication with the board and bridge gaps in understanding between the board and staff.
  • Work cooperatively and collaboratively with the board to address organizational challenges, and encourage and support board development.
  • In collaboration with the internal team of HR advisors, recruit and retain talented employees.
  • Articulate clear responsibilities and accountabilities. Recognize and reward staff achievement.

Financial Stability and Reporting

  • Work collaboratively with the Chief Financial Officer to understand and act on financial information and trends.
  • Co-create budgets and coach/empower staff leadership to grow their financial management expertise for the benefit of the organization as a whole.
  • Develop and encourage healthy information and data flow to support decisions.

Organizational Culture

  • Build bridges, both internally and externally.
  • Delegate effectively and work to grow staff expertise. Act as facilitator and coach.
  • Hone people’s best contributions; channel energy through a mycelial connection and extension of talent and drive. Foster understanding of the evolving big picture.
  • Encourage high trust and strengthen organizational resiliency.
  • Provide developmental growth opportunities for staff.
  • Cultivate intergenerational appreciation and inter-reliance.

External Communications and Fundraising

  • Nurture external relationships. Gently keep a finger on the pulse with collaborators, holding the strategic vision of external relationships while empowering staff and board to create and grow strong connections with stakeholders.
  • Serve as an effective and visible spokesperson and advocate.
  • Grow the capacity of staff and board to represent the organization.
  • In collaboration with the Development Director, develop and implement strategies to meet organizational fundraising goals.
EDUCATION: Required: Bachelor’s Degree.
Preferred: Post-Baccalaureate degree or training in a related field.

EXPERIENCE: Required: Five years of senior-level management experience in an organization of comparable size and complexity.
Preferred: Eight to ten years of senior-level management experience in an organization of comparable size and complexity. Significant experience with nonprofit management under the fiduciary leadership of a board of directors. Understanding of the management of a working seed-growing company.

Compensation is competitive and commensurate with experience, and includes participation in the organization’s comprehensive benefits plan. The salary range is $100,000 to $110,000.

TO APPLY: Applications are requested by 5:00 p.m. Friday, June 21st, 2019.
To apply, interested candidates should apply via the Cincinnatus online portal at this link: (Preferred method. This link can also be found at Alternately, please email your resume and cover letter to Note Seed Savers Exchange in the subject line.

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Collection Inventory Manager

Seed Savers Exchange is seeking a Collection Inventory Manager to join our team. The Collection Inventory Manager will oversee inventory, seed viability and health, and growout scheduling for the Seed Savers Exchange Seed Bank. The ideal candidate should have a degree in a plant science related field such as horticulture, botany, or agronomy, experience managing a plant collection, have technical expertise with seed biology/storage, and be capable of working in a fast-paced environment.

Applications accepted through July 5, 2019.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities
  • Prioritize and schedule accessions for annual regenerations onsite and offsite
  • Assess inventory and prescribe methods to determine collection value
  • Make timely decisions on regeneration plantings such as replacement growouts and when to restore purity
  • Ensure purity for varieties grown for regeneration by scouting in field
  • Assess and identify redundancy and accession integrity
  • Oversee packaging seed inventory including assigning harvests to appropriate packets
  • Prioritize accessions for seed germination tests
  • Prioritize varieties to reaccession to replace inventory
  • Lead pathology testing of seed crops including ELISAs tests for lettuce and squash
Supervisory Responsibilities
  • Oversee germination technician and inventory technician
  • Oversee volunteers, interns, and work-study students
Internal-Department Responsibilities
  • Assist with field work, seed packaging, seed pull, and distributions as needed
  • Assist preservation with annual corn hand pollination program
External-Department Responsibilities
  • Assist with Seed House order fulfillment
  • Work with Marketing and Communications team to write compelling article and blogs
  • Represent Seed Savers Exchange at on-and off-site events, conferences, and workshops
  • Proven experience working with limited supervision
  • Strong analytical and creative problem solving skills
  • Exceptional communication, interpersonal, and time-management skills
  • Ability to prioritize competing short-term and long-term projects and tasks
  • Excellent attention to detail and strong organizational skills
Physical Requirements
  • Ability to sit and stand for long periods
  • During field work, ability to work in temperature extremes
  • Ability to lift 25 pounds regularly
  • Bachelor’s degree in plant science field such as horticulture, botany, agronomy, plant pathology
  • Experience working in a supervisory level position
  • Knowledge of seed biology or physiology
  • Demonstrated record of successfully working independently and as part of a team
  • Paid time off
  • Paid holidays
  • Health care, retirement, and lifestyle benefits

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Field Crew and Order Fulfillment (Part Time)

Seed Savers Exchange is now hiring for a part time Field Crew and Order Fulfillment position. This position will assist with all facets of field crew activities, seed packing, product shipping, and perishable support. Must be flexible to change tasks as priorities change and flexible through direct-level supervisor changes.

This is a regular part time position working 24 hours a week year-round.

Applications accepted through May 31, 2019.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Field and Seed Processing

  • Involved in field activities during growing season, including but not limited to direct seeding, transplanting, mulching, hand weeding, mechanical tilling, trellising, fencing, and harvesting
  • Gain proficiency in all seed processing equipment and techniques including wet and dry processing, using both mechanical and manual methods
  • Follow all organic certification protocols and keep planting, harvesting, and processing records

Seed Packing

  • Fill retail seed packets by hand and by automated machine
  • Attention to detail in seed count, lot accuracy and legibility, adequacy of seals, etc, without sacrificing efficiency, ability to troubleshoot
  • Packing automation includes barcode lot validation, and operation of seed packing/printing software
  • Keep work area clean to minimize possibility of cross contamination

Seasonal Perishable Support

  • Support Perishable Inventory Coordinator as needed - transporting, sorting, weighing, bagging, packing, and shipping of garlic, transplants, potatoes, and apple trees

Order Shipping

  • Prepare orders for shipment. This includes picking orders, validating items, and packing into appropriate containers
  • Process shipments using integrated shipping software
  • Able to perform basic computer functions with training
  • Ability to learn to operate a wide range of field and seed processing equipment
  • Accurate record-keeping, and attention to detail
  • Able to work well as part of a team and increase efficiencies
Physical Requirements
  • Working outside during hot, cold or wet conditions as needed
  • Ability to lift up to 30 pounds regularly, and 50 pounds occasionally
  • Farming/agriculture interest and experience preferred
  • Efficient, self-motivated person
  • High School diploma or equivalent
  • Valid driver's license
  • Paid holidays
  • Employee discount, retirement, and lifestyle benefits

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Seed Savers Exchange is an equal opportunity employer and enthusiastically encourages people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences to apply. Seed Savers Exchange does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), gender identity, national origin, citizenship, age, mental or physical disability, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by law.

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