Registration open for International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) events

ICAW 2023 graphic

The Illinois Food Scrap & Composting Coalition (IFSCC), a non-profit organization that advances the diversion and composting of all organics in the state, has announced its International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) 2023 programming. ISTC is an organizational member of IFSCC and the Technical Assistance Program’s zero waste team is actively involved in IFSCC and its committees.

ICAW is the largest and most comprehensive education initiative of the global compost community. The 2023 ICAW theme is “For Healthier Soil … Healthier Food, Compost!” and the 2023 dates are Sunday, May 7 – Saturday, May 13. Learn more about ICAW on the Compost Research and Education Foundation website.

Since 2021, the IFSCC has planned robust ICAW programming that combines in-person and hands-on experiences with virtual discussions and presentations to reach diverse and widespread audiences at all stages of life and composting experience. The 2023 line-up includes a day of “Adventures in Composting” with farmers, gardeners, and backyard composters around the state; a virtual International Cafe at which composting stories from around the world will be shared; a virtual Legislative Lunch & Learn; and multiple opportunities throughout the week to attend library programs and obtain finished compost.

Visit to learn more. This page on the IFSCC website includes:

  • An expandable schedule of events, event map, and registration links for virtual events;
  • A toolkit for libraries throughout IL to use for relevant programming during ICAW;
  • Links to further information on international ICAW activities;
  • Links to connect with ICAW on social media;
  • Highlights from last year’s programming, including recordings of virtual events; and
  • Bios for the co-chairs of the IFSCC ICAW planning committee, Kate Caldwell and Merleanne Rampale.

Finally, if you’re new to composting, check out this recent blog post from TAP, which includes resources for a variety of home composting methods:

ICAW info poster from IFSCC

FirstFollowers Go Make A Difference program tours ISTC

The First Followers group with ISTC staff

First Followers is a Champaign-Urbana-based re-entry program that provides guidance for those impacted by the criminal justice system. GoMAD (Go Make A Difference) is a program within the First Followers that specifically targets people around the ages of 18-24. GoMAD teaches practical employment skills and prepares participants for apprenticeship programs in areas including construction.

Grace Wilken, a researcher at ISTC, organized this partnership to educate the young people in the program about some of the available career paths at the university level in facilities management, earth science, biology, chemistry, and engineering. The current cohort recently toured ISTC to learn about career possibilities in sustainability.

First, the group attended short presentations by Wilkin and Perry Akrie. Wilkin focused on her research with different types of algae and their applications. She talked about sustainability, what it means, and why it is so important for society. Akrie discussed earth science disciplines and possible career paths for people who earn those degrees. Earth science is underrepresented in many high school curriculums and minorities have been historically been underrepresented these fields.

Vanessa DeShambo explains her ongoing algae research

Next, the group toured the ISTC lab space to show the researcher’s day-to-day work. The tour concluded with a walkthrough of the greenhouse space by Vanessa DeShambo, who showcased her work with sustainable algae systems. Her projects seek to address the food-water-energy nexus and integrate wastewater treatment improvements, food production, and energy savings.

The young men in the cohort were excited to learn more about the various uses of algae and in the idea of earth science as a possible career path.