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.

Vermont Master Composter Course

Our program offers an 8-week online course each fall that includes either a volunteer component or a flexible asynchronous option. The course is offered in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation.

Learn more about the course and volunteer options. 

2022 Vermont Master Composter Course

Registration for the 2022 Vermont Master Composter course is now closed. Please email to be placed on the 2023 course mailing list.


Course fees include all materials. Registration for Vermont residents is $50 per person; Registration for out of state participants is $150 per person.

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

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

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 interested in 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 Minor 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 "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 Home 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. Passing students receive a Home 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 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.

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

2022 Syllabus: (subject to change for 2023)

Click here to download the 2022 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) 80% or better required 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.

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 2022 course is Friday, September 2. 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 Friday, September 9, 2022. 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 26, 2022 so we may assist you.


If you have questions, please contact or Deb Heleba at  Once you have registered and created your course account, all questions must be submitted to the course coordinator using the 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.


2022 Course Registration is closed! 

Registration for the Vermont Master Composter course is closed. To be placed on the 2023 course mailing list, please email .

Quick Links:

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:

"I really appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to take this course. The course materials were easy to access, and not too difficult to understand. The ability to take the course on my own schedule was wonderful - without it, I couldn't have taken this class. I now feel much more knowledgeable about composting and am reinvigorated to continue my journey as a composter in Vermont."

"I looked forward to the video lectures. I thought the program was organized and comprehensive. I was happy to see so many people taking the class, and from different states in addition to Vermont."

"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."