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Program Manager | Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens (Midland, MI)

Dow Gardens is seeking a Whiting Forest Programming Manager; the successful candidate will be someone who wants to make a difference in a nationally significant new project. The right candidate will be a self-starter who welcomes and enjoys the challenge of creating and developing new programs with wide latitude. This full-time position will report directly to the Director of Dow Gardens and be an important member of the senior management team, collaborating with the Director and other team members in visitor services, special events, marketing, and operations roles for both the Forest and Gardens.  This position provides the leadership for the development and delivery of high-quality public programming at the forest, and is an exciting opportunity for someone to create programming for a new project. Programming that engages all ages, multiple communities, enhances the Whiting Forest experience and the reputation of Whiting Forest will be a main focal point of this position. The position does not include development, as the Whiting Forest operations are funded by program income and as a program of the Foundation.

Title: Program Manager for Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens

Supervisor(s): Director of Dow Gardens

Employment Type: Full time

Compensation: Commensurate with experience. Benefits include 401k, health, dental, and vacation.

Application: Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references (including email addresses).

Mail to: Elizabeth Lumbert

             Director, Dow Gardens

             1018 W. Main Street

             Midland, MI 48640



  • Create, plan and evaluate new public programs using and highlighting the Canopy Walk, Visitor Center, Playground, to grow attendance, increase revenue and enhance the visibility and reputation of Whiting Forest, including symposia, workshops, seminars, lectures, classes, residencies, tours, family programs, scouting programs, programs for special needs children and adults, festival weekends and live performances. 
  • Identify new audiences and potential programs to expand the reach of Whiting Forest.  Develop a timeframe for rolling out new programs related to the opening of the Canopy Walk, the Playground and the Visitor Center.  Contribute to the development of an interpretative plan for the new experiences at Whiting Forest.
  • Development of Master Class level programming for high school, college, young professionals, and adults.
  • Create, foster and refresh partnerships with other local and regional cultural and educational organizations as appropriate.
  • Plan program and event logistics and establish timelines and procedures to effectively manage the programs and events in coordination with key staff from other departments, to ensure a world-class visitor experience. Act as a point person for outside vendors, speakers and performers. Be a liaison with on-site catering vendor for program and event needs.
  • Create and manage budgets for programs with approval from the Dow Gardens Director.
  • Implement and maintain metrics and evaluations for all program offerings in coordination with Marketing Manager/Whiting Forest Marketing Specialist and Visitor Center Manager, including measuring attendance at programs, implementing customer surveys and evaluating customer feedback.
  • Provide content for public program collateral (signs, brochures, website etc.) coordinating with Marketing Manager/Whiting Forest Marketing Specialist, Visitor Center Manager, Whiting Forest Grounds Manager and other key staff.
  • Collaborate with Whiting Forest Marketing Specialist on promotion and marketing of programs.
  • Train and supervise as needed the Whiting Forest Programming Assistant, interns and volunteers.

Required Qualifications/Education/Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s Degree in Museum Studies or related field preferred
  • 3+ years of experience developing and implementing adult and family programming in a museum, public garden, arboretum or other informal learning environment preferred. 
  • Experience with cultural programming (dance, music, art, photography, literature) and STEAM programming.  Event management experience preferred.
  • 3+ years of supervisory experience.
  • Excellent planning, organizational and interpersonal skills.  Ability to manage multiple projects and deadlines while adhering to program goals.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills.
  • Ability to think innovatively and work productively both independently and with a team.
  • Good computer skills, including Microsoft Office.
  • Availability to work evenings and weekends as needed.


Grace A. Dow established The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation in 1936 in memory of her husband, Herbert H. Dow, who founded The Dow Chemical Company and died in 1930. She was a trustee of the Foundation until her death in 1953. The Foundation operates The Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan. The 160 acre Dow Gardens is comprised of an Estate Garden, Exploration Garden, and the Whiting Forest.  More than 130,000 guests currently visit each year.

About Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation is undertaking the construction of a Canopy Walk and Connectivity Project, enhancing the 54-acre Whiting Forest experience and attracting more visitors to the Forest. The Foundation is investing approximately $20 million into this project which will open in 2018.   It will be the longest fully-accessible forest canopy walk, open year round, in the United States.  It will give visitors an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of forest, sky, and water with a fresh perspective. The walk is a 1300-foot-long fully-accessible experience which will take visitors to heights as high as 50 feet above the forest floor. Innovative design elements and programming will create a national model for design-enhanced, visitor-directed outdoor play and exploration. The site will promote the belief that everyone, adults and children alike, benefit from play, especially in a natural, outdoor environment. Two pedestrian bridges will increase connectivity between Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest.

In addition, the former home of Herbert & Grace Dow’s granddaughter and grandson-in-law, Macauley and Helen Whiting, will be adapted to serve as the Visitor Center for Whiting Forest. Behind the Visitor Center, visitors will discover an expansive hill providing spacious views through to the Forest. Stone seating will create a hillside gathering space with additional opportunities to gather on the patio and lawn above. The current visitor center will serve as The Lodge - a space designed with wood accents and beams along with a catering kitchen. Adjacent to the Lodge will be a new playground space with multiple opportunities for outdoor play and exploration. The playground will have a series of safe and challenging outdoor experiences that include features which will encourage climbing, jumping, swinging, and even tunneling. Conversational seating is being intentionally designed to create a community gathering space. A two-acre apple orchard with four zones in honor of the vast Herbert H. Dow orchard that once graced the Midland landscape will also be a part of this multi-faceted project.