What is a Master Composter?

Bernalillo County Extension Master Composters

What is the history of the Master Composter Volunteer program?

Master Composter training is an active program in 500 locations in the USA and Canada (1996 Survey). The first USA program was established in Seattle, WA, in 1986 and remains a role model for other programs.

Composters sign leading to class
Photo courtesy of Tom Nichols

How does the program educate participants?

Master Composter Volunteer Training educates participants in the art, science, materials, methods, and benefits of home composting. Students participate in about 25 hours of lectures, demonstrations and field trips as part of the training process. After training, the graduates volunteer a certain number of hours for community education. Graduates teach home composting in a variety of community settings: schools, community and senior centers, fairs and various established composting demonstration sites in the area.

How does home composting benefit the environment?

Home composting helps residents to recycle organic material on site rather than contributing to a landfill. Residents can then enjoy healthier gardens by amending with their own compost.

Do we have a Master Composter Volunteer Training program in the Albuquerque area?

Yes, after a sixteen year hiatus the Master Composter program was reactivated in the Spring of 2010. (There was a master composter program here in the early 1990s, but it did not continue.) The program reactivation was accomplished with the support and collaboration of Albuquerque Area Extension Master Gardeners, the Bernalillo County Co-op Extension Service, the City of Albuquerque Solid Waste Management Department, NM Recycling Coalition, the NM Environment Department Solid Waste Bureau, and Soilutions, Inc.. The 2010 program was supported, in part, by a grant from the Rio Grande Basin Initiative. The grant was written by Joran Viers, then Bernalillo County Extension Horticulture Agent.

Two master composters posing with a pitchfork to look like American Gothic
Photo courtesy of Jackie Puccetti

What is the current status of the Albuquerque area program?

In May 2010, 29 people completed Master Composter Volunteer Training. We have held similar trainings almost every year since then. Participants in the trainings are now teaching composting in schools, organizations, and at special events in the middle Rio Grande region. In October, 2010, we formed an association to provide a structure for the support and maintenance of the Master Composter education program and its graduates. In October, 2011, we were granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status by the IRS. Here is a list of classes and other activities we have offered to the public over the years.

See Classes and Other Activities for the Public for upcoming classes that are open to the public. If you'd like to schedule a class for your organization, see Contact Information. If you'd like to support us with a financial contribution, please see Donations.

Also see our Composting in the Desert flyer.

Are you interested in becoming a Master Composter?

Please see our Master Composter Volunteer Training page. Also see Volunteer Opportunities for the kinds of things you can do once you become a master composter.