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Master Composter program turns trash to treasure

Photo by: Ben Kailing | Staff Photographer
Kevin Walsh, agriculture education graduate student, turns over a compost pile Oct. 19 at Texas State's composting facility.

Bobcat Blend has partnered with the city of San Marcos to organize the Master Composter program.

The program is intended to educate and promote composting among community members in order to increase the city’s sustainability.

The program hosts events to educate residents about basic composting skills as well as the science behind the process. Composting allows common household waste to be converted into a rich natural resource enhancing the environment.

Bobcat Blend and the city will host volunteer development activities at the San Marcos Nature Center beginning Nov. 2..The events will allow citizens to cultivate community gardens, organize compost and maintain the composting site.

Amy Kirwin, solid waste coordinator, said she heard about the program at a Keep Texas Beautiful conference and is now one of the Master Composter managers. She organizes volunteer applications and hour data, while Bobcat Blend officials provide instructors for the educational courses.

“This is a great way to educate people on another way to do landfill diversion, instead of throwing everything away in the dumpster or trash,” Kirwin said.

Landfill diversion is removing certain waste from other people’s trash or landfill and repurposing it in a way that enhances the environment, she said. Recycling plastic bottles and composting things like food scraps or yard trimmings are a few example methods.

Kitchen scraps and yard trimmings account for between 20 to 30 percent of solid waste in most households, Kirwin said.

 Photo by: Ben Kailing | Staff PhotographerCitizens interested in becoming a Certified Master Composter can now register for the fall Master Composter Program.
Photo by: Ben Kailing | Staff Photographer
Citizens interested in becoming a Certified Master Composter can now register for the fall Master Composter Program.

November will mark the program’s first year of establishment in San Marcos, she said. Forty hours of Master Composter courses and volunteer opportunities are available during spring and summer semesters.

Kevin Walsh, graduate coordinator, said Master Composter will provide the community an opportunity to learn how to properly make organic fertilizer without attracting animals and creating a foul smell.

Food scraps and yard trimmings can make San Martians’ yards “healthy and bountiful” if locals learn how to compost them correctly, he said.

“Most people will likely throw their food scraps outside in their backyard, getting frustrated with the stink or it not working, and are stuck with a big pile of food waste,” Walsh said.

Citizens can enroll in the Master Composter program by simply buying the $20 textbook, he said. The program will help San Martians understand composting is a form of recycling that repurposes waste for an environmentally friendly outcome.

Master Composter members will have the chance to work alongside Texas State students who are involved in Bobcat Blend, he said.

“I think this program really connects the community by doing hands-on work with people of different ages,” Walsh said. “You see people who are from different generations volunteering together with college students.”

Breanna Harlan, president of Bobcat Blend, is a participant in the Master Composter program. Harlan said even though she isn’t a master at composting yet, she will soon become one with the help of the program’s classes.

“It helps to change the mindset of what trash really is, instead of having that ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality,” Harlan said. “(Trash can be) converted to something that has more of a beneficial outcome.”


  1. Regarding the Master Composter program, Bobcat Blend and the City of San Marcos are doing something quite amazing and beneficial to our community.
    After reading this article I sensed an immediate feeling of wanting to get involved with the program and doing my part to help in any way that I can.
    The people running the Master Composter program are admirable because they are not only doing something themselves to keep our environment healthy, but are sharing this knowledge with college students; getting more people involved in helping our community.
    I am completely for this program and I am sending this to tell you that what you are doing is having a great impact to Nature of San Marcos. Please keep up the hard work, it is giving us students a higher awareness and care for the well being of our planet.

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