Rich began working in the composting industry nearly three decades ago, managing municipal leaf composting facilities for a Rockland County, New York-based company. Beginning as a site technician, taking windrow temperature readings and throwing lime on leachate and anaerobic leaves, he advanced to project manager and had a dozen sites under his management in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
It was this hands-on experience that formed the basis of his composting expertise, and led to him being transferred to the Midwest, and then San Diego, California, to manage high-volume compost facilities and conduct remediation work on sites with capacity and odor issues. Working on and managing composting facilities led to his consulting business and formation of Hidden Resources, which has expanded into a skilled team of professional technicians with experience in multidisciplinary resource conservation and management, project development, education, vermicomposting, engineering, marketing, data analysis, community-scale composting, and sustainable landscaping and farming.
When he's not working, which isn't often, Rich enjoys playing pinball, reading, writing, cooking, biking, gardening and brewing beer.
Tyla Montgomery Soylu, PE
Tyla is an environmental engineer who is experienced in providing program management and technical support for major, large-scale infrastructure projects, with a focus on sustainability. She is licensed civil engineer in both California and Nevada.
When not engineering, Tyla focuses on increasing community sustainability through policy development and projects that incorporate the highest and best use of natural resources into green building, water conservation, low-impact development, and sustainable agricultural practices. She successfully organized stakeholders, advocated for, and achieved amendments that opened up opportunities for small scale, decentralized composting through both CalRecycle statewide composting facility regulations as well as City of San Diego’s community garden ordinance. A volunteer for Engineers without Borders, Tyla has worked on infrastructure development projects in India, and dedicates much of her time to local non-profits furthering community-scale composting and sustainable food systems.
She enjoys gardening, weight lifting, hiking and cooking in her free time.
Rhonda is a world-renowned vermicomposting expert who has given more than 1,000 presentations on the subject and written more than 65 articles extolling the virtues of worms, resource management and sustainability. She has recently completed a book on large-scale vermicomposting, the first of its kind. An extension specialist in the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University, she is also a consultant and vermicomposting advisor on the Hidden Resources team.
Rhonda has conducted workshops on composting and vermicomposting in Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and throughout the United States. She also organizes the world’s first and only annual conference on large‐scale commercial vermicomposting, with attendees coming in from South and Central America, Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia, the Caribbean, India, Israel, South Pacific, and throughout the world, including lots of participants from the US, Canada and Mexico. Rhonda developed and manages the two‐acre Compost Learning Lab (CL2) at NC State, which features 26 types of composting and vermicomposting bins and areas for hands‐on training activities.
Rhonda co-edited the only scientific book on vermicomposting: Vermiculture Technology: Earthworms, Organic Wastes, & Environmental Management, and has recently published her own: The Worm Farmer's Handbook: Mid- to Large-Scale Vermicomposting for Farms, Businesses, Municipalities, Schools, and Institutions.
In her free time, Rhonda enjoys serving as an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, and loves to travel, hike, work out, and read.
Wayne Williams, Ph.D.
Plant Pathologist/International Development Specialist
Wayne has more than 40 years of experience in management of sustainable agriculture and environmental science and research projects, including international development in sixteen countries in Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. He has developed biodiversity conservation programs in numerous locations and ecosystems, including the tropics, subtropics, and temperate regions, through field work in Tajikistan, Krygystan, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, as well as in the US.
Wayne received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis in Plant Pathology, and has consulted for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), US Department Agriculture, US EPA, US Forest and National Park Services, California Air Resources Board, Department of Fish and Wildlife and Energy Commission, and NRDC, among many others. He has written more than 200 technical publications and reports on a wide variety of botanical, agricultural and environmental subjects.
When he's not consulting or traveling, Wayne likes to write, garden, and play piano.