Meet the Cary Oshins Scholarship Awardees

Since its launch in spring 2023, the Cary Oshins Training Scholarship has supported a diversity of passionate composters in bringing knowledge of sustainable organics management back to their communities throughout the United States and across the world. Learn about their stories below, and if you’re inspired to be part of this positive change, please consider making a donation to the scholarship fund.

Awardee & Affiliation
COTC Attended
About the Awardee
Akirah Hlatshwako Ubuntu Permaculture Mission - Newark, NJ
New Jersey - August 2023
Akirah is the inaugural recipient of the Cary Oshins Training Scholarship. She is originally from the Kingdom of Eswatini in South Africa, where she started her own farm and partnered with a local lumber company to assist with composting their biowaste to help prevent pollution. Akirah now lives in Newark, NJ and runs Ubuntu Permaculture Mission with her husband. Their mission is to offer permaculture education that promotes sustainable lifestyles that care for people, care for the earth, and promote mutual share. Akirah shares: “I have a deep passion for environmental sustainability and composting as it is our job as stewards of the earth to care for the soil. Composting is a direct way to ensure the livelihood of our food systems and is an important component of environmental sustainability.”
Watch the video below to hear in Akirah’s own words what being able to attend the training meant to her. She even got to learn from Cary Oshins, who came out of retirement to be one of the trainers.

Ivy Beach
Warren Wilson College - Swannanoa, NC
North Carolina - September 2023
Ivy has had diverse experiences in sustainable agriculture and community enrichment that drew her to the COTC. Her education includes the Wendell Berry Farming Program where she majored in Sustainable Agriculture, and EARTH University which exposed her to many recycling and resource management issues. Ivy worked as a Garden Ranger at Grand Park in Los Angeles directing classes in urban ecology and nutrition, and as a Horticultural Educator for the New Garden Society at prisons in Greater Boston. She now serves as the Community Oriented Regeneration Effort Supervisor at Warren Wilson College, where she supervises a 15 to 25-student work crew and manages the campus-wide composting program. Ivy shares: “I am committed to the practice of regenerative agriculture and soil cultivation because of the power environmental health & food security has to benefit our communities and our life systems.

Cindy Zuluaga Jimenez
Takshanuk Watershed Council - Haines, AK
North Carolina - September 2023
Cindy’s composting journey started as a child on her family’s coffee farms, where she learned to set up layered piles for use as fertilizer later in the season. Her undergraduate education revolved around biology, and in graduate school she became a community garden manager, overseeing all aspects of the garden including composting. After landing in Haines, AK, Cindy took over the Haines Community Compost program from 2020-22. In 2022, the Takshanuk Watershed Council received funding for Haines’ first commercial compost facility, slated to begin operating in spring 2024, and Cindy was hired as their compost manager.
Cindy came to the COTC looking to master commercial composting techniques, and plans to apply the training toward becoming a Certified Compost Operations ManagerTM through the USCC.
Cindy shares: “Attending the COTC will ensure that I have the skills to be an effective commercial compost operator. Haines is a remote, rural town and hands-on training locally, let alone in the state, is non-existent. [COTC attendance] will allow our new compost center to hold training for future compost professionals.”

Christopher Trullaz
Table to Farm Compost - Durango, CO
Texas - October 2023
Chris first became interested in composting during a permaculture certification course with Keith Morris in Vermont, where a visit to the Vermont Compost Company got him thinking about how composting could change how we look at waste. Chris spent the next 7 years pursuing his dream of becoming a mountain guide, and along the way found strategies to limit waste and save food from the landfill. When the pandemic hit, he found work with Table to Farm Compost in Durango, CO. He’s now the full-time operations and facilities manager, and Table to Farm’s compost throughput has increased 100-fold over 3 years.
Chris shares: “Everything I have learned about composting so far has been trial and error. Being located on a farm, managing the inputs, working directly with local arborists and sawmills, operating in a small rural city, all has upsides and drawbacks. I wish to professionalize and legitimize my composting career path and participating in a course such as this one is a great start.”

Tumar Tolkynkyzy
Gumilyov Eurasian National University - Astana, Kazakhstan
Texas - October 2023
Tumar has been a passionate naturalist since her youth, when she helped her family grow their own food and recalled her parents explaining how organics turn back into soil by decomposing. In high school, she was inspired by teachers from around the world to become an eco-volunteer. She started encouraging other students to use plastic more consciously and collected paper for recycling.
After becoming a student at Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Tumar became aware of the lack of waste management infrastructure in her country. She was especially concerned by the amount of organic resources being landfilled, and resolved to launch the nation’s first composting facility. After multiple attempts at her endeavor, Tumar realized that although she was familiar with the biological process, she needed to better understand composting as a business. She was driven to attend the COTC and learn how countries with developed compost industries have found success. Tumar shares: “It's now or never. Now is the time for the youth to make a difference. To make Kazakhstan, and the world, a better place to live. I promised myself that I will make a contribution to the environment, raise awareness among my people. I will start and run a compost facility in Kazakhstan and make my country more ecological and sustainable.

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