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.

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. Our Vermont Master Composter program provides training to volunteers who'd like to help Vermonters learn how to become better composters. The program is supported by and offered in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation.

Vermont Master Composter Course

Our program offers an 8-week online course each fall that includes a track for Vermonters who'd like to volunteer in their communities and a track for individuals who'd like to take the course at their own pace.

2023 Vermont Master Composter Course

Registration for the 2023 Vermont Master Composter course closed on August 31, 2023. 

We offer the course each fall. Contact us at to be added to the notification list for the 2024 course.


Read more about the course and becoming a Vermont Master Composter below.

Track 1 (Volunteer Certification): Become a Vermont Master Composter Volunteer!

Track 1 (VT Master Composter Volunteer Certification)

The Vermont Master Composter Certification program, also known as Track 1, is designed for Vermonters who are interested in learning more about the science and practice of composting and then sharing that knowledge with other Vermonters through volunteerism. Track 1 students take the course and commit to 10 hours of volunteering in their communities providing education and service around small-scale composting. Students who are interested in this track have access to the online course with a weekly schedule that includes live Zoom classes, quizzes and a final exam, weekly homework and discussions, and an in-person workshop at a community composting site. Students in this track commit to completing all course assignments on time, complete the program's volunteerism forms, achieve a course grade of 85% and go on to a 10-hour volunteer-internship requirement over a 2-year period following 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 Minor Protection Training course.
  • Complete all weekly course requirements on time devoting about 4-6 hrs per week to the course
  • Attend all the weekly online sessions on Zoom, Thursday evenings.
  • Participate in one in-person composting workshop (offered in three 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 "Vermont 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 Track): Learn about Composting and Earn a Backyard Composter Certificate

Track 2 (Learn at Your Own Pace)

This track allows students to access the course material at their own pace without a volunteer requirement. Students who achieve a grade of 80% or higher by the end of the course receive a Backyard Composter Certificate indicating they've successfully completed the course.

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

  • Is not a resident of Vermont (*VT residents can also apply for this track).
  • Doesn't want the pressure of deadlines.
  • Is not interested in volunteering.
  • Works in the compost industry and wants a professional development opportunity. 
  • Wants to apply their knowledge to their home composting system.
  • Is interested in earning a Backyard Composter Certificate.

Track 2 Requirements:

  • Complete the pre-recorded lectures, quizzes, and final exam at your own pace.
  • Complete the course with a 80% or higher grade.

Track 2 Benefits:

  • No schedule, no pressure, no hassle.
  • Access the course materials anywhere.

Course Content & Syllabus

 Course topics include:

  • Decomposition Process
  • Biology of Composting
  • Site and Container Selection
  • Community Composting
  • Compost Uses
  • VT Act 148
  • Managing the Compost Process
  • Troubleshooting
  • Effective Volunteerism 

2023 Syllabus:

Click here to download the 2023 Course Syllabus

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) 

  • Take final exam (10 questions multiple choice) 

Additionally Track 1 Students weekly assignments:

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

  • Attend all of the weekly Zoom Q&A sessions, held on Thursdays from 6-7:30 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.

Tips on Registering for This and Other Courses Hosted by the Extension Foundation

Getting an Extension Foundation Account

This course is hosted on the Campus Site of the national Extension Foundation at

To register for the course (and other courses we offer), you must have an Extension Foundation account. You may use your Google or your Microsoft account to create an account at this site and subsequently log in. If you do not have either, then please select the "Create new account" button at: or use the Account Creation Form which does not require email validation.

If you have any problems or questions about creating your account, see the Extension Foundation's Campus Help Page.

Finding Our Courses

Once you have an Extension Foundation Campus account, you will be able to enroll in our UVM Extension Master Gardener and Vermont Master Composter courses. You can find our courses through a search of the catalog, using "compost" as a keyword.


Refunds & Accommodations

Registration Deadline

The final day to register for the 2023 course is August 31, 2023 by midnight. We are unable to accept students after this date but would be happy to add you to our contact list for next year's course.

Dropping the course/Refund Policy

The final date to drop out of the course and request a refund is September 15, 2023. We are unable to process refunds after this date. 


To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Deb Heleba at or 802-656-1777 by August 15, 2023 so we may assist you.


If you have questions, please contact Deb Heleba at  Once you have registered and created your course account, students should plan to submit course questions using the online course platform.

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


Learn about Composting

A good place to start is with The Dirt on Compost

For more resources, check out the Composting section on our Gardening Resources page.


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 (as of 2016) and food scraps (as of 2020) in Vermont? Learn more about the Universal Recycling Law.


Feedback from 2022 participants:

"This course exposed me to the world of solid waste management in Vermont that I was previously ignorant to. In just 2 months, my appreciation increased for the waste management ecosystem and impact that composting can have on the environment. It was great having such a diverse set of classmates from all different professions that brought a unique perspective to the composting conversation."

"I feel this course has something for everybody - whether you're interested in soil ecology, community organizing, or learning to troubleshoot your home compost system, the course provides a great base level of knowledge that can be applied to numerous projects and situations."