Seed Bank Germination Technician

  • Full Time
  • Decorah

Website Seed Savers Exchange

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization based in Decorah, Iowa focused on conserving and promoting America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations. Do you love seeds and science? Do you thrive in a lab setting? Are you an organized person who loves to start and see through tasks in a timely manner? Seed Savers Exchange is seeking a Seed Lab Technician to join our team. The ideal candidate should have interest and experience in biology, botany, horticulture or a related field.

Primary Role:

This position will work closely with seeds and will experience the extensive diversity of the Heritage Farm Collection. Working closely with the Seed Bank Distribution Technician, they will perform all seed lab duties, which fluctuate on a yearly cycle. Primary duties include coordinating the germination testing program during peak seasons, assisting with filling seed distributions, preparing seeds for sowing, and packaging seed. During the growing season, they will assist with seed production by helping lead the corn hand pollination and other field tasks such as planting, weeding, and seed processing. This position offers a balance of lab and field work as well as independent and team tasks. We are looking for an enthusiastic individual with the tenacity to finish tasks, excellent organizational skills, and passion for our mission.

This is a full-time, benefits eligible position working 40 hours per week year-round. Applications accepted through May 14, 2021.

To apply, please email a cover letter, resumé, and the contact information for three references to [email protected] – include the name of the position in the subject line of your email. Applications may also be mailed to: Seed Savers Exchange | Attn: Alex Brandt | 3094 North Winn Rd. | Decorah, IA 52101.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

Germination Lab

  • Perform all germination test evaluations in keeping with AOSA (Association of Official Seed Analysts) Rules and Seed Savers Exchange protocols
  • Perform and oversee moisture content testing of all regenerated seed from Heritage Farm grow outs prior to packaging for long-term storage
  • Perform and/or oversee other germination testing tasks such as retrieving and filing packets, counting and weighing seeds, digital imaging seeds
  • Maintain up-to-date seed quality testing protocols
  • Maintain seed quality testing supply inventory, order supplies, and assist with budget planning for the germination lab

Inventory Management

  • Package, inventory, and store regenerated and recently acquired plant material in a timely manner
  • Implement seed storage protocols and maintain accurate inventory records
  • Prepare seed samples for yearly grow outs and other distributions
  • Complete additional inventory-related tasks as assigned such as creating inventory records, inventory reorganization projects, and repackaging older inventory

Yearbook/Seed Exchange

Fulfill Exchange (Yearbook) requests including but not limited to:

  • Entering orders received into NetSuite and Microsoft access database
  • Preparing samples including seeds and non-seed material such as scion wood and potato tubers
  • Shipping packages

 Corn Pollination

  • Plan and oversee corn hand pollination program
  • Monitor corn varieties closely for tassel and shoot development
  • Bag shoots and tassels and perform pollinations
  • Assist with harvesting and processing corn as needed

Inter-Department Responsibilities: 

  • Assist field operations during peak times from May through November when not focused on corn pollination and germination testing including harvesting and seed processing
  • Assist with seed cleaning and processing including fleshy fruit processing and dry seed crop processing
  • Perform seed evaluation on charismatic seed including identifying off-types and scanning inventory
  • Assist the Evaluation Team with seed evaluation
  • Assist with other activities as assigned by the Seed Bank Manager

External-Department Responsibilities:

  • Perform educational workshops on seed quality testing and corn hand pollination
  • Perform germination tests for Seed House as needed

Supervisory Responsibilities:

  • Train work study students, interns, and volunteers on germination procedures
  • Train staff and interns on corn hand pollination procedures


  • Detail oriented, observant, and thorough
  • Ability to manage time effectively
  • Ability to troubleshoot problems as they arise
  • Must be flexible and adaptable to manage shifting priorities
  • Ability to work independently and part of a team
  • Ability to finish tasks in a timely manner
  • Knowledge of computers including Microsoft Office programs

Physical Requirements: 

  • Able to stand and sit for long periods of time
  • Able to work in weather extremes in the field
  • Able to perform repetitive motions


  • Degree or related work experience in plant science, biology, botany, horticulture, environmental science or a related field
  • Experience in seed biology, germination testing, and corn pollination is a bonus


  • Employee/family health insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Paid holidays
  • 401(k) with employer match
  • Employee wellness program and merchandise discounts

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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