The Compost Cats Crew
Check out all of our Compost Cats Alumni in the Compost Cats Hall of Fame.
Chester F. Phillips (Chet) is the architect of the Compost Cats project and currently serves as its project supervisor and as ASUA Sustainability Program Coordinator at the University of Arizona, where he completed a B.S. in Environmental Science., B.A. in Creative Writing, and M.F.A. in nonfiction and is currently working on a PhD in Arid Lands Resource Sciences. His graduate research combines expertise in environmental policy, energy policy, conservation biology, and the social science of collaboration and coalition building to examine how to move forward with renewable energy development without sacrificing our nation's remaining large wildland areas and the corridors between them. His academic and intellectual interests also extend to creating more sustainable and just food systems, all forms of composting, and carbon sequestration (especially through composting).
Chet has also completed a book length narrative on his flight from extreme family alienation in small town East Texas through five years of homesteading in the southern Arizona desert, from which his published essays "Charging Lions" and "Heroes and Consequences" are taken. Past occupations have included rancher, fire lookout, night shift delivery driver, Montessori assistant teacher, rainwater harvester, research assistant, environmental conflict-resolution intern and university instructor of courses in English, environmental sustainability, rainwater harvesting, and food systems.
Last, but far from least, Chet and his beloved partner, Jennifer Floyd, are the proud parents of infant twins, now 14 months old, whose names, Sonora Grace and River James, declare and celebrate Chet's enduring love for the people, creatures, and places of the Sonoran Desert and southern Arizona.
Christian Hegstrom is a sophomore at the University of Arizona currently studying Biosystem Engineering with a minor in Environmental Science. He is passionate about creating social and environmental change in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona, and believes that Compost Cats will create this local change. When he's not making compost, you can find him running, biking, camping, and chilling in and around Tucson.
Born and raised in the Iberian peninsula, Zoe Martín is a student of Environmental Science and Anthropology at the University of Arizona. Although she has lived in Tucson for five years, she is still getting to know the wonders of the Sonoran Desert and it's people. Passions include: pristine nature, climbing, waterfalls, climbing waterfalls, kayaking, skying, scuba diving, camping, drumming, learning from people and getting in trouble. She also likes chickens.
Idrian Mollaneda is a sophomore at the UA studying Environmental Studies and Political Science. A few of his passions include sustainability, social justice, and politics. He is also a Greening the Game recycling ambassador and he has had recycling thrown at him a few times. When he's not policing trashcans for rogue recyclables/compostables, you'll probably find him reading news articles, exploring the city (aka downtown because he doesn't know how to get anywhere else), or fiddling with a piano somewhere.
Joseph Ornellas is majoring in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Arizona. In his spare time he enjoys mountain biking, hiking, photography, and playing music.
Jessica Harris is senior a majoring in Cultural Anthropology and minoring in Africana Studies. She is passionate about social justice and human rights issues as they relate to environmental sustainability, art, and education. When she is not out in the community demanding social and environmental justice she enjoys reading, painting, yoga, going on adventures with friends, traveling, dancing, cooking, hanging out with puppies, gardening and meeting new people.
Alanna Gerardi is a junior Environmental Science major who is passionate about helping others become aware of sustainable practices that will help protect our environment! She is very excited and looking forward to expanding her knowledge on composting and sustainability through the Compost Cats!
Michael Rabbani is a junior studying chemical engineering. Soon after coming to the University of Arizona, he became aware of environmental issues in Arizona and the rest of the world and has made it his goal to create as much positive change as possible. As a member of Compost Cats, he is looking forward to working with like-minded people and making a positive impact in Southern Arizona.
Troy is a Junior at the UA studying Political Science - Law and Public Policy, and Arabic.Troy grew up in Detroit and quickly decided warm weather better suited him. He hopes that his background in Public Policy and his work with the Compost Cats will enable him to bring greater awareness of the environment in the public domain.
Clarisa Avalos is majoring in Environmental Science. She wants to live in a world where people care about increasing environmental issues and where 5 feet is considered tall. When she’s not surrounded by chlorine, compost or books, you can probably find her running around for “exercise” or exploring unknown lands.
Anthony (Antz) Sabori is majoring in Sociology but hopes to switch to Environmental Studies or Sustainability/Hydrology. His hobbies include fishing, kayaking, hiking, camping, exploring, soccer/volleyball, music, dogs, and trying new things (including food).
Meck Slagle is an Environmental Science senior and the Equipment Specialist. She grew up in Ohio but has been in Tucson for 7 years. Meck loves to travel; she has spent a study abroad semester in Sweden, has dug for fossils in England, and has visited 42 of the 50 states. Meck’s favorite things are animals, trees, and doing anything that allows her to be outside.
Justin Johnson is a Natural Resources major studying the Ecology, Management, and Restoration of Rangelands. Having grown up in the tall grass prairies and soybean fields of South Dakota, Justin is particularly interested in the interactions between ecosystems and agriculture. When not composting, he can typically be found wandering throughout the Sky Islands, gardening, or playing with his hound dog, Jasper.
Michaela Webb is a sophomore at the University of Arizona studying Environmental Science with a Spanish minor. She loves spending time in the outdoors, and cares deeply about the planet and our future on it. Because of this, she is super excited about the idea of turning food waste into a resource through composting. Her other loves include but are not limited to rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, backpacking, general adventuring, and all the wonderful people she has met along the way.
Person of Interest: Nicole Wampler
Compost Cats Position: Accounting & Finance Specialist
Degree: BSBA in Accounting with a minor in Environmental Studies
Specialties: Pretending to be cool, comparing the quality of various Tucson Chipotles, and loudly enthusing about the cuteness of animals that belong to strangers
Passions: Nature, mathematics, music, business, and all things food
Ky Bakhshi is majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Physiology as well as minoring in Persian, Biochemistry and Philosophy. She wants to encourage environmental sustainability in her own life and in the lives of other Tucsonans by promoting everything Compost Cats stands for. Her interests are painting, dancing, playing music, writing poetry, and traveling.
Bruno Loya is a senior graduating in May with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies and a minor in Environmental Science. Bruno is a 20-year Air Force Veteran, married for 25 years to his beautiful wife Priscilla, with 5 children and 1 granddaughter. Bruno is hoping to continue his career as an Environmental/Safety and Radiation Safety Manager. He is the “Snakeman” with over 30 years of handling rattlesnakes and giving live, educational presentations to anyone willing to hang around long enough. He is also a Scout Master with the Boy Scouts of America. His other hobbies include hunting, camping, collecting non-sports cards, riding his motorcycle with his American Legion brothers and sisters, and of course anything else his wife tells him to do.
Caitlyn Hillis is currently a sophomore studying International Political Science and Global Studies. She grew up outside of Seattle, Washington and has an affinity for good weather and the outdoors. Some other interests of Caitlyn’s include dance, photography and filling in coloring books.
Erin Scott is a freshman at the UA majoring in Fine Arts with an emphasis in 2-D studies, which is a long way of saying she is about to get very very good at drawing. She was born and raised in Tucson, and is excited to be a part of the positive environmental change Compost Cats is creating in her home town. One of her favorite things is explaining that she enjoys science and art. She likes going on bike rides, hiking, gardening, cooking, watching chickens, drinking strange tea, and traveling.