Master Composter Certification Class

Become a certified master composter in Washtenaw County!

Want to transform yard debris and kitchen scraps into a nutrient-rich, natural soil amendment? Identify your own soil profile? Create low-maintenance, low-waste yards? Tour large- and small-scale compost operations?  Know how to compost with red worms? Make compost teas? All these topics and more are offered by a range of presenters through the Master Composter class.

Michigan Master Composter certification is available for students who attend classes, pass the take-home exam, and volunteer 10 hours in the community. A team of Certified Master Composters along with Master Gardeners and an MSU instructor will conduct the classes. The course is designed for the general public and for Master Gardeners, Master Rain Gardeners, and Conservation Stewards to continue their organic gardening education.

An online PDF version of the 175-page Michigan Master Composter Manual will be available to all students; an optional $10 materials fee is due the first day of class for students interested in receiving a print version of the manual.

This program is coordinated by Project Grow and Washtenaw County.

Fall 2023 Master Composter Course Details

  • 7-week workshop

  • Cost: $69 plus optional $10 printed manual fee  

  • Thursdays, September 14 - October 26, 2023

  • 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

  • Rec & Ed Large Conference Room, Pioneer High School 1515 S. 7th St., Ann Arbor 48103

Class 2 (September 21) is held off-site at Project Grow’s Compost Education Center (CEC) at Leslie Science Nature Center, 1831 Traver Rd., Ann Arbor. Saturday Practicum activities are based at the Leslie site.

OPTIONAL Large-Scale Commercial Compost Site Tours are offered: Locations, dates and times TBA and may include the City of Ann Arbor’s Compost Center operated by Denali / WeCare Organics; and the Ypsilanti Township’s Compost Center.

Class registration is managed through AAPS Rec & Ed.  Registration begins August 15.

Follow this link to register.

Course Outline

Class 1 - September 14, 2023  Overview of Course, Compost Basics, Cold Composting (Nancy Stone, Angela Porta, Lisa Perschke, Advanced Master Gardener)

Class 2 - September 21, 2023  Hot Composting, Green Manures, Introducing the Practicum, etc. Class held at Project Grows Compost Education Center (CEC) at the Leslie Science Nature Center, 1831 Traver Road, Ann Arbor, 48105. Meet at the Project Grow demonstration area. Dress for outdoor demonstrations before indoor class. (Joet Reoma, Master Gardener, Master Rain Gardener)

Class 3 - September 28, 2023 Yard Waste Reduction, Trench & Pit Composting, Leaf Mulching. Dress for outdoor demonstrations before indoor class. (Chris Simmons, Master Rain Gardener)

Class 4 - October 5, 2023 Vermiculture (worms), Special Composting, Compost Teas (Jesse Raudenbush, Master Gardener, and Marcella Trautmann)

Class 5 - October 12, 2023 Soil Health – How it effects your garden and you. What’s all the talk about soil health? Gardening can be tough, but gardening in unhealthy soils makes it tougher. This session will cover the basics of soil health.  What it is, how to recognize it, its benefits, and how to change it (positively and negatively). The challenges of poor soils, including in urban environments will be demonstrated. (Michigan State Extension Agent Sarah Fronczak)

Class 6 - October 19, 2023 Worm Bin Workshop; hands-on session to build your own red-wiggler worm bin or simply learn first-hand about raising red worms for vermicompost. Each student must pre-register in-class at least one week in advance if interested in building a worm bin. Red worms, worm bedding, instructions, and assistance to drill aeration holes are provided. Bring your own opaque Rubbermaid-style 18-gallon storage bin with a secure lid to class. (Jesse Raudenbush and others)

Class 7 - October 26, 2023 Master Composter Volunteering and Certification. To become a certified Michigan Master Composter, students must attend the classes, successfully complete the take-home exam, and complete at least 10 volunteer hours. At this final class guest presenters discuss local volunteer composting opportunities; the take-home final exam is corrected in-class; students share ideas for volunteer projects; and the group discusses the date/topic for the Fall 2024 (free) Master Composter Graduation Dinner. (Nancy Stone, Lisa Perschke, with guest presenters)

An additional incentive for completing the Master Composter Certification’s 10 volunteer hours is to become eligible for Washtenaw County’s recognition of outstanding Master Composter projects at a separate annual Washtenaw County Environmental Excellence Partnership awards event.

How Do I Register?

You can register online through the Rec and Ed website here.  After Labor Day, you can also register by phone or in person. Call Rec and Ed at (734)994-2300 for more details.

Volunteer Log

Click here for the Master Composter volunteer log.

Additional Resources

Other Classes and Instruction Opportunities

  • Project Grow Community Gardens: classes are periodically offered for in-person and online learning experiences. Check for upcoming sessions.

  • Michigan State University Coop Extension posts composting classes and videos:  

  • Institute for Local Self Reliance Soil Rebuilders website provides articles, case studies, webinars, site signage, and more for community composting.