Become a Better Composter!

Composting is about recycling organic material back to the soil in a usable form. It’s also about reawakening our awareness of the value of healthy soil in the food web. Composting is practical, convenient and inexpensive. This course is offered online with both a volunteer component and a flexible asynchronous option.

Learn more about the course and volunteer options. 

Track 1: VT Master Composter Volunteer Certification

Track 1 (VT Master Composter Volunteer Certification)

The Vermont Master Composter Certification program, also known as Track 1, requires a special application process and background check for Vermont residents interested in participating. Students who are accepted into this track have access to the online course with a weekly schedule that includes live classes, quizzes, weekly discussions, activities and strict due dates. Students in this track commit to completing all course assignments on time, and go on to a 10-hour volunteer-internship requirement over a 2-year period after the course.

Volunteer Certification Requirements:

  • Complete a Volunteer Application.
  • Complete a background check (if you have lived in Vermont for more than a year) or fingerprinting process (if you have lived in Vermont for less than a year). At least one of these is required regardless of whether you volunteer with youth or not.
  • Complete a Mintor Protection Training course.
  • Complete all weekly course requirements on time devoting about 6 hrs per week to the course and  attending all the weekly online sessions on Zoom, Thursday evenings.
  • Able to attend one in-person composting workshop (offered in two Vermont locations).
  • Willing to participate in a 10-hour volunteer internship.
  • Dedicated to maintaining annual volunteer certification, 5 hrs per year.

Benefits of Certification:

  • Receive official "Master Composter" Volunteer status with badge and certificate.
  • Learn from experienced faculty, industry professionals and Master Composters in the field.
  • Give back to your community.
  • Membership in our volunteer network.
  • Receive access to special offers and educational opportunities.

A good fit for this program is someone who is...

  • A Vermont resident (required).
  • Confident using a online-course platform, Zoom, and word processing programs.
  • Eager to make a difference in your community.
  • Happy to teach others and share your knowledge with the public.
  • Able to interact amicably and professionally with others.
  • Interested and deeply committed to environmental stewardship.
  • Able to commit to the course schedule and complete all assignments on time.
  • Dedicated to completing 10 hours of volunteering within 2 years of taking the course.
  • Committed to maintaining volunteer certification. 


Track 2: Self-Paced Home Composter Certificate

Track 2 (Home Composter Certificate)

The Home Composter Certificate, also known as Track 2, allows students to access the course material at their own pace without a volunteer requirement. Passing students receive a certificate of completion.

This track is a good fit for someone who...

  • Is not a resident of Vermont (*VT residents can also apply for this track).
  • Wants extra time to complete the course or doesn't want the pressure of deadlines.
  • Is not interested in volunteering.
  • Works in the composting industry. 
  • Wants to apply their knowledge to their home composting system.
  • Is interested in the professional benefits of earning a Home Composter Certificate.

Track 2 Requirements:

  • Complete the pre-recorded lectures, quizzes, activities at your own pace.
  • Complete the final exam with a 70% or higher grade.
  • Finish all assignments.

Track 2 Benefits:

  • No schedule, no pressure, no hassle.
  • Access the course materials any time, any where.
  • More time to navigate the online learning platform.


Course Content & Syllabus

 Course topics include:

  • Soil and Decomposition Ecology
  • Biology of Composting
  • Recipe Design
  • Disease Control
  • Site and Container Selection
  • VT Act 148
  • Managing the Compost Process
  • Troubleshooting
  • Educational Outreach
  • Worm Composting


Click here to download a past syllabus as an example

Assignments for Track 1 & 2:

  • Read assigned materials for each unit

  • Watch a pre-recorded lecture (1-2 hours) for each unit

  • Take a quiz for each unit (5 questions each, multiple choice) 80% or better requried to pass

  • Take final exam (10 questions multiple choice) 70% or better required to pass

Additionally Track 1 Students weekly assignments:

  • Post 1 weekly question for the instructors to answer (on time)

  • Post a reply to the weekly student discussion board (on time)

  • Attend all of the weekly Zoom Q&A sessions, TBD, typically held on Thursdays from 6-7 pm

Other Info:

  • The online course is offered statewide through the Extension Foundation Campus website, using the Moodle software platform.

  • The textbooks for this course are the Vermont Master Composter and the NY Master Composter Manual. These manuals are provided to students in an online pdf format in an effort to save paper.

  • The instructor Q&A sessions are held weekly online using Zoom. These sessions are for Track 1 students only and provide an opportunity to interact with instructors to ask questions and review the lecture material.

  • Course lectures are provided as pre-recorded YouTube videos. 

Still not sure about taking an online course?

Learn what taking an online course entails.



Refunds & Accommodations

Dropping the course/Refund Policy

Full refund up until the course starts. Unfortunately, we cannot provide refunds for the course modules that you have already been given access to on the website. Refer to the Course Syllabus for more information.


Disability-related accommodations are addressed upon request. 


To receive a notification about the 2022 course, please contact

The Vermont Master Composter program is managed by the UVM Extension Community Horticulture program with financial support from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.


Next Course: Autumn 2022

Please email to be placed on the 2022 course mailing list.

Course Fee:

(Includes all materials)

In-State: $50 

Out of State: $150

Need a Master Composter Volunteer?

Request Assistance


Icons for recycling, composting and trash

Vermont's Universal Recycling Law (Act 148)

Did you know that Act 148 bans disposal of leaf, yard and clean wood debris by 2016, and food scraps by 2020, in Vermont? Learn more about the new Universal Recycling Law.

Feedback from previous participants:

"The last class really helped to define the objectives and implementation of the Vermont Recycling Law. I can only begin to appreciate all the work and coordination that went into assembling this course and thank you all for that effort."

"This was an amazing amount of information in one place about composting. I am very glad it was offered online as I could not have taken it any other way."