Master Compost and Solid Waste Course

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As part of the County of San Mateo's Sustainability Academy (formerly known as the RecycleWorks Volunteer Academy), this is an eight-week course that will be held from October through December 2016. Each class will take place on Tuesday evenings for three and a half hours in San Mateo County.

As a participant, you'll leave the course with in-depth knowledge of backyard and vermicomposting, an understanding of soil biodiversity and all the benefits of adding compost to your soil, and an overview of waste reduction practices. The class is instructed in a hands-on style that teaches participants concrete skills, as well as the theory behind those skills.

For those participants that attend and complete at least seven out of eight of the course's classes, they will each get a choice of taking home their own backyard or vermicomposting unit, as a congratulatory gift from the program for successfully completing the course!

After the completion of the course, we require that you volunteer 40 hours of your time using the skills that you learned in the class to promote resource conservation. We support and encourage you to find volunteer activities that are most interesting, fulfilling, and fun for you!

The Sustainability Academy (Academy) is designed to educate San Mateo County community members about resource conservation and empower them to promote resource conservation in their communities. This no-cost educational program is made available through the County of San Mateo.

"I think the Academy offers a great environment for developing the next generation of compost 'teachers'! From its classroom presentations, demonstrations, and practical examples, the Academy makes it easy for the trainees to absorb the material, then encourages each of them to extend their knowledge on their own."

- Joe Lees, Academy Volunteer and 2016-2017 Academy Master Compost and Solid Waste Instructor

The Master Compost and Solid Waste Course will cover:

  • Backyard composting
  • Vermicomposting
  • Soil biodiversity
  • Sustainable landscaping
  • Communication, leadership, and instruction skills you can use to teach others how to compost

Course Instructors: The course will be led by Joe Lees, County's Master Composter Program 2008 graduate, and guest speakers: Jessica Coe with Cascadia and others.

Course Schedule: Tuesday evenings starting on October 11th ending on December 6th, 2016 (excluding Thanksgiving week). Exact dates of classes are Tuesdays 10/11, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 11/15, 11/29, and 12/6

As part of the course, you will also have the option of helping to teach a two-hour public compost workshop along-side an expert compost instructor, to gain hands-on experience in presenting, instructing and engaging with community members. These are all useful skills that you can sharpen and utilize when engaging with your community members to meet the 40-hour volunteer requirement for the course. This compost workshop is scheduled to take place on Saturday November 12th from 10am-12pm.

Time: 5:30pm - 9:00pm

Course Venue: Beresford Recreation Center, 2720 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

To Register for the Course:

You must be 14 years or older to attend the classes, and a resident, business owner, employee, or student located within San Mateo County. If you need ADA accommodations, please contact us four (4) business days prior to the first class you will be attending.

The Goal of This Course:

RecycleWorks Sustainability Academy
Academy Master Composters building a backyard bin during class

HAVE FUN - Make friends and new connections, share a common interest, complete a community action project, and join us for volunteer appreciation events!

GET INVOLVED - Learn cutting-edge composting and recycling techniques and theory from local sustainability experts, and learn what you can do to empower yourself and others to promote these activities.

GIVE BACK  - Educate your friends, neighbors, kids, teachers and community on the value of composting and turning garbage into gold!

We require that participants in this Master Compost and Solid Waste course volunteer 40 hours back to your community (San Mateo County) through an approved activity where you can utilize the skills and information you have learned during the course to promote resource conservation. The Academy supports and encourages participants to find different ways to volunteer that is most meaningful and fun for them.

Volunteers can complete their volunteer hours in a variety of ways, such as giving workshops at schools or community centers, staffing a booth at the County Fair, completing a composting/solid waste action project, building an educational demonstration model, like a compost system, or writing a news release for a blog, social media or paper in San Mateo County.

Once volunteers complete both the course and volunteer hours, they will receive a certificate of completion for the Master Compost and Solid Waste course as recognition of their commitment to sustainability and their community.

RecycleWorks Sustainability Academy
Academy Master Composters visually inspecting compost from a worm compost bin

What Others Have Said

Read Testimonials from Master Composters graduates.


To find out more about the Academy, please contact Eun-Soo Lim, our Sustainability Academy Coordinator, at or (650) 599-1498, toll free at 1-888-442-2666.

If you would like to stay in the loop about these offerings and other upcoming Academy and Office of Sustainability events, please join our list serve at

RecycleWorks Sustainability Course
Program Year 2015-2016 Master Compost and Solid Waste Course class