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County of Santa Clara Recognizes 30 New Master Composter Volunteers

Russ Behel named recipient of the Master Composter of the Year award

The County of Santa Clara Home Composting Education Program graduated its fifteenth class of Master Composter volunteers in a ceremony held at the County Service Center in San Jose last night. Since 1995, 328 Master Composters have been certified, providing 38,000 hours of volunteer service.

“Composting is an important part of our overall strategy for decreasing pollution and limiting our impact on the planet,” said Ken Yeager, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “As the popularity and viability of composting increases, these volunteers will help us spread the message.”

The Class of 2010 has completed a nine week training session in compost science, soil health and natural gardening techniques. The Class of 2010 also took a tour to Z-Best, a local commercial composting facility and the SMART station in Sunnyvale. Each of the new Master Composters will volunteer a minimum of 50 hours to the Home Composting Education Program. Volunteers fulfill their volunteer hours in a variety of ways including classroom presentations and demonstrations on worm composting food scraps in the classroom or school garden, teaching composting classes, and staffing informational booths at community events and compost bin sales.

Russ Behel was honored as the recipient of the 2009 Master Composter of the Year award. Russ volunteered 117 hours in 2009 and 360 hours since his graduation from the Master Composter Program in 2005. He has taught many composting workshops to adults and school children as well as to students at San Jose State University and National Hispanic University. Russ worked many Earth Day table displays, and special lectures for companies such as Apple. He has been especially helpful by donating time and equipment to build worm bins for school compost programs.

“As a life long environmentalist I decided to become involved with the Master Composter Volunteer Program. I saw an opportunity to give something back to the community that in a small way could impact the environment,” said Mr. Behel. “I especially like working with schools because the kids are the future. If I can get them excited about composting and the environment I know that I have planted a seed that will grow.”

Nearly 35% of what County of Santa Clara residents throw in the garbage or leave at the curb can easily be composted at home. Backyard and worm composting is a major element in each city’s efforts to meet state and local waste reduction goals.

For more information on composting, low-cost compost bins, composting and Bay-Friendly gardening classes and the Master Composter program, call 408-918-4640, or visit the website

Media Contact: Zachary DeVine, Home Composting Education Program, County of Santa Clara (408) 282-3186 
Posted: March 11, 2010