Solana Center for Environmental Innovation Honored with National Organics Diversion Program of the Year Award

Esteemed national organization US Compost Council recognizes local environmental leader and Encinitas non-profit for impacts in composting education and program implementation

SAN DIEGO – The United States Composting Council (USCC) awarded the esteemed achievement award for Organics Diversion Program of the Year to Solana Center for Environmental Innovation which pioneered the first comprehensive curbside recycling program in Southern California and one of the first community-based recycling programs in the U.S. The Award recognizes a program, public or private, that has successfully promoted and enabled organics diversion through composting or vermi-composting through demonstrated education and public outreach activities. 

For 40 years, Solana Center has taught composting operations, from residential, community and commercial scale as well as waste prevention and resource conservation techniques. Students often describe the organization’s “Master Composter” and “On-Farm Composting” training courses as life-changing. Solana Center graduates upwards of a hundred San Diego region residents a year from these courses, providing each with the skills to implement various compost techniques. Graduates not only establish successful composting systems, but they further encourage composting through education within their spheres of influence. 

Solana Center’s Education Programs Manager Kelsea Jacobsen received the award, recognizing excellence in composting and public education. Kelsea is a Master Composter herself and manages all of Solana Center’s education programs, leading the San Diego community to reduce waste and conserve resources. Her group maintains compost demonstration sites, teaches composting classes to school children and the public, and provides technical assistance to farmers.

While accepting the award, Kelsea highlighted Solana Center’s staff who “dedicate their talents, passion, and patience to the cause,” the organization’s active volunteer base who contribute over 2,000 hours of their time each year, and other organizations and individuals contributing to organics diversion with whom Solana Center partners to magnify their collective impact.

Solana Center’s mission is to influence the community and keep valuable resources such as organic material out of the landfill through its Food Cycle community compost program, ongoing education on compost and food waste prevention, consulting services with businesses and government entities, as well as additional low-waste tools provided at their Climate Solutions Resource Center in Encinitas. 

In the past 5 years, Solana Center’s programs have educated more than 70,000 San Diegans; helped keep 3.4 million pounds of organic waste from the landfill creating healthy compost to nourish soils; saved more than 372,000 gallons of rainwater through rain barrel distribution protecting local watersheds and waterways from harmful runoff; and engaged volunteers who have given over 9,8000 hours in support of environmental programs and education throughout all corners of the San Diego region. 

The Organics Diversion Program of the Year Award was presented to Kelsea Jacobsen on January 26 at the USCC’s annual conference in Ontario, CA.