CompostAnyone with a garden, lawn, trees or house plants has a use for compost! 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 2020 Course
    September - November
    Optional Live Online Sessions on Thursdays beginning September 26, 6-7pm 
    Fee: $50 In-State, $150 Out-of-State (subject to change in 2020)

    Registration for 2020 available mid-July. Email to be placed on the mailing list and receive notification when registration is available.

    100% Live Online-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

    We are now offering TWO TRACKS to the Extension Master Composter program. What's the difference?

    • Track 1 is the full certification course: it includes online coursework, 1 hands-on session, and a 10-hour volunteer component.
    • Track 2 students complete the same online course, but do not need to do the volunteer hours, the hands-on session is optional, and you receive a "Vermont Certificate of Home Composting" but do not become a certified "Master Composter Volunteer." Read on to see which is right for you.

    Vermont Master Composter Certification (Track 1)

    This track is for those who will complete the volunteer service to receive Master Composter Volunteer Certification. As a volunteer, you will be trained in the basic concepts of backyard composting and community outreach and have the knowledge and resources to train and encourage others to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Get support from a growing network of Master Composters, and work with others to plan regional outreach activities.

    Track 1 may be right for you if you are:

    • Eager to improve your community and share your knowledge as a community educator
    • Interested in Environmental Stewardship and willing to promote environmentally safe composting practices.
    • Able to attend one hands-on session during the course
    • Willing to serve as Master Composter volunteer year to year, and maintain your certification.
    • Able to complete the 10 hours of volunteer service within 2 years of taking the course to receive Master Composter Certification.

    Track 1 Requirements:

    1. Complete the online course: eight modules, six live online Q&A sessions (or watch recorded) with instructors, an online manual, quizzes, final exam (70% or better) and additional course materials. 
    2. Participate in one hands-on session in either the northern or southern region of the state
    3. Participate in a 10-hour hands-on volunteer internship in your local area to earn certification as a Vermont Master Composter. Choose from one of two dates. Oct 12 (Ludlow, VT) (1:00-3:00pm) or Oct. 19 (St. Albans, VT) (1:00-3:00pm)

    Track 1 Benefits:

    • Receive a course completion letter and intern badge upon completing all course requirements
    • Receive a Certified Vermont Master Composter badge and certificate upon completion and reporting of 10 volunteer internship hours by end of the annual term
    • Receive the benefits of learning from other Master Composters and giving back to your community
    • Receive the benefit of joining our Composter network and listserv, and gives you access to a number of special offers and educational opportunities.

    Vermont Master Composter - Online Course Only (Track 2)

    Complete this track if you are interested in the course content and if you do not intend to become a Certified Master Composter volunteer, or if you live outside the State of Vermont. For Track 2, no Master Composter Volunteer Certification is awarded, there is no hands-on volunteer service required, and you are not able to use the title, “Certified Vermont Master Composter Volunteer.”

    Track 2 may be right for you if you are:

    • Not a Vermont resident 
    • Working full time and/or don't have time to volunteer
    • Working in a field related to composting and want to learn more about the science of composting.
    • Interested in composting for your own knowledge that you plan to apply to your own composting projects.
    • You are not comfortable teaching others about composting
    • You would like to use the course completion, " Vermont Certificate of Home Composting" as a professional qualification.

    Track 2 Requirements:

    1. Complete the online course: seven modules, six live online Q&A sessions with instructors, an online course guide, quizzes, final exam (70% or better) and additional course materials. 

    Track 2 Benefits:

    • Receive a "Vermont Home Composting Certificate." You will not become a “Master Composter Volunteer.”

    Volunteer 10 Hours - Share your knowledge (for Track 1)

    A volunteer internship is a way for you to apply your classroom knowledge to real needs in your community through hands-on experience. To complete your internship, you'll:

    • Complete 10 hours of approved volunteer community outreach within two years of completing the coursework.
    • To maintain active status as a certified Vermont Master Composter, you must complete at least 5 hours per year of community outreach and maintain registration through annual completion of required forms.

    Examples of typical volunteer work include running community or school composting projects, giving compost talks/demonstrations to local groups, writing newspaper columns on compost topics, staffing exhibits at fairs or farmers’ markets, or assisting with UVM Extension Master Gardener projects that have a composting component.

    Though these programs are separate, Vermont Master Composter volunteer hours can also be applied as Extension Master Gardener volunteer hours.

    All About Northern EMG & MC Projects (Google Doc-updated)

    All About Southern EMG & MC Projects (Google Doc-updated)


    Is An Online Course Right For You?

    Although it may seem counter-intuitive to have a gardener or composter class online, the mission of UVM Extension is to make University resources available to individuals across the State of Vermont. The online platform provides us with a cost-effective way to reach people in many different locations - rural and urban - who would not otherwise have access to one physical location.

    The online non-credit courses are a way for individuals to learn the theories and principals of soil science and horticulture. In other words, these will not be a hands-on class, but rather a course that provides the background information you need to know in order to feel confident in your practical and theoretical knowledge.

    We suggest these courses be taken as a first step toward learning more about sustainable gardening or composting practices, including reducing your use of pesticides and other harmful garden products and enhancing your landscape to be both a human and wildlife-friendly environment.

    You might be surprised that you like the convenience of an online course, as it allows you the flexibility to schedule your time around work, vacations and other family activities.

    Online Comfort

    All of the content in our courses is provided online. You will need basic computer skills, such as knowing how to download files and search the internet to access the materials successfully. If you have reliable, high-speed internet access and can hear sound through your computer, and have a webcam, you should be able to participate regardless of the type of computer or operating system you use. The internet speed required for webinars is 1.5 mpgs download. Talk to your internet provider if you are not sure what internet speed your systems' capabilities are. You will also need the 2010 or newer version of Microsoft Software.

    We do not recommend taking this course if you do not have access to an up-to-date computer, if you are not comfortable using a computer, navigating the internet, using email, or using an online video conferencing application. You will be required to manage all of these components on your own in order to participate in this course.

    Tech Support Policy

    Unfortunately, we have a very small staff and we do not provide technical support. We take pride in providing a high quality, interactive and engaging online course, but we do not have the time or expertise in computer technology to help with individual level computer issues.


    2020 Course Content

    Each of the online course modules will require students to read assigned chapters from the course manual, watch a pre-recorded lecture, post 1 discussion question, take module quizzes, and attend or watch the live Q&A sessions, and offer module feedback.

    The online courses are offered statewide through the eXtenion campus website.

    The text for this course is the "Vermont Master Composter & NY Master Composter Manual." These manuals are provided to students in an online pdf format only. Students are welcome to download the documents and print it at a local printing company.

    The live Q&A sessions are held using Zoom video conferencing. These sessions will allow students to interact with on-screen faculty to ask questions, while course lectures are provided as video recordings. The Q&A sessions are also archived.

    The 2019 Course Syllabus is below: (subject to change in 2020)

    2019 Master Composter Course Syllabus

    The basic course outline is as follows:

    Module 1: Course Introduction: Self Paced (no live session) All Intro Assignments Due
    Module 2: Introduction to Composting, Mike Ather, Backyard Wilderness
    Module 3: Soil & Decomposition Ecology, Wendy Sue Harper, Consultant and former UVM Lecturer
    Module 4: Using Compost, Mulch & Cover Crops, Mike Ather, Backyard Wilderness
    Module 5: Site Design and Management, Natasha Duarte, CAV & Athena Bradley, NERC
    Module 6: Vermont's Act 148, Anne Bijur, Department of Environmental Conservation, Waste Mgmt
    Module 7: Volunteering & Outreach, (Track 1 only) Beret Halverson & Cindy Heath, Master Gardener Program
    Module 8: Course Conclusion: Self Paced (no live session) All Final Assignments Due

    *One hands-on session is offered in the northern region and one in the southern region (same content). This session is required for Track 1 students, but optional for Track 2 students.


    Refunds & Accommodations

    Refund Policy

    Visit the 2020 Course Content link above and select the 2019 Master Composter Course Syllabus link for information on "Dropping the course/Refunds".


    Anyone requiring a disability-related accommodation to participate should contact the Master Gardener State Coordinator, Beret Halverson - 802-656-1777 -



    For more information, call the Extension Master Gardener administrative office at (802) 656-9562 or email


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

    Vermont Master Composter 2020 Course
    September - November
    Optional Live Online Sessions Thursdays 6-7pm

    2020 Registration available Mid-July.
    Email to be placed on the mailing list

    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.


    Don't Take Our Word for it!

    Feedback from previous Participants:

    Great informational resource. Even as a long time gardener and composter I still learned a great deal from the course presentations. 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.

    Great course! I plan on taking the Master Gardener course this year and volunteering to be certified in both.

    Outstanding set of classes that really ought to be in school classrooms as well.