May 23, 2022 | Composting, Facilities, Operations, Preprocessing, Storm Water Management

Online Compost Operator Certificate

Top: The first certification course to be offered is a two-month online program focused on best practices for food scraps composting.

A new online platform, The 131° School of Composting, launched on 1/31 (2022) with a mission to “build a regenerative, inclusive and equitable food system through the act of composting.” The 131° School of Composting (or “the one-thirty-one school”) is the educational branch of Compost Technical Services, a consulting practice founded by James McSweeney, author of Community-Scale Composting Systems. The first course offering (open for registration) is a two-month online program focused on best practices for food scraps composting. The course is designed for any size operation above the home-scale (commercial, on-farm, municipal, on-site), and is based on the Vermont Compost Operator Certification Training curriculum, which McSweeney has developed and taught since its inaugural offering in 2011.

“We started offering an online element to the Vermont certification course in 2019 because we could never squeeze enough material into a day during the in-person training,” explains McSweeney. “The idea was to ‘flip the classroom’ so when we are together in person, we can maximize the free flow of discussions and learning without feeling pressured for time, and then round it out with other course components online. Eventually, I’d like to get back to a hybrid model of doing both in-person and online sessions.”

The 131° School’s Compost Operator Certificate includes four live training sessions, two live review sessions, and two discussions with composting site operators (one medium to large-scale and one small-scale). The remainder of the course is recorded lessons. Participants have two months to complete the course, which includes about 16 hours of lessons, exercises and quizzes. Topics covered include: Principles of Composting, Compost Recipe Development, Materials (Feedstocks) & Blending, Pile Construction, Pile Monitoring & Management, Trouble Shooting & Neighbor Relations, and Storm Water & Leachate Management. Pricing is $275/person for 1 to 3 students, $250/person for 4 to 9 students, and $240/person for 10+ students. The next certificate course is scheduled for September-October 2022 (although the prerecorded content for this session is available starting at registration). Two-hour live sessions are at 1:31 pm EST on the 3rd and 4th Thursdays of those months.

McSweeney also is creating a “Community of Practice” offering, described on the 131° website as a “collaborative creation space where composters can develop business and systems concepts in solidarity with other socially and environmentally conscious practitioners.” The sessions will be live.

Sign up