Certificate of Merit

Past Recipients

This list is compiled from past issues of the NSS News and Section 6 of the Board of Governor's Manual.  Some discrepancies between the NSS News and Section 6 listings were discovered while compiling this list and every effort was made to correct the discrepancies. Not all issues of the NSS News stated what the recipient(s) had done to receive the award. Special thanks to Bill Mixon for researching past issues of the NSS News to compile this list.

1950 J Harlen Bretz Contributions to the knowledge of cave origins.
William Davies Description cave geology, especially state-wide cave surveys of West Virginia and Maryland.
Ruben Garcia Organizing speleological congress in Monterrey, Mexico.
Betty Yoe Service as NSS News mailer and NSS memberhip maintenance.
1951 Leroy Foote Service as NSS treasurer for past 8 years.
John Petrie Service as an NSS officer for 10 years.
Betty Yoe Retiring as financial secretary of the NSS.
1952 Eugenio de Bellard Pietri Helping arrange expedition to Venezuela and studies of the caves there.
Chrissy Mansfield Service as recording secretary for several years.
1953 Tex Helm Photography in Carlsbad Caverns, especially the famous color photograph of the Big Room.
Robert Lewis Service for 5 years as business manager of the NSS News.
Western Maryland Rail Assistance in investigation of the deposits in Cumberland Bone Cave.
1954 Robert Hatt Book Faunal and Archeological Researches in Yucatan Caves.
1955 Burton Faust Service as an officer of the NSS.
William Hill Service as editor of the NSS News.
Jerome Ludlow Service as editor of NSS Bulletins 11-16.
George Moore Contributions to Speleology.
Bernard Smeltzer Contributions to Bulletin 15, Caves of Pennsylvania.
1956 Loren Woods & Robert Inger Studies of North American cave fishes
John W. Twente, Jr. Dissertation on bats in gypsum caves.
Roger Brucker and members of the Flint Ridge Project Surveys showing cave development in flat-bedded limestone.
Albert Skira, George Baittelle, Hans Hinz and Claudio Elmer Book Lascaux or the Birth of Art.
1957 Alfred Bogli Exploration and mapping of Holloch Cave.
Huntley Ingalls Photo-documentation of Cass Cave.
Dorothy Reville Editing the NSS News.
1958 Philip Livingston Publisher of the last ten issues of the NSS Bulletin.
Philip Smith Applying speleological techniques to arctic crevasses.
William White, Robert Dunn, Russell Howard and other members of the Pittsburgh Grotto The Speleo Digest.
Burton Faust Extraordinary service to the NSS in many capacities.
Antonio Nunez-Jimenez Exploration and study of Cuban caves.
1959 Marjorie Sweeting Geological study of caves in England and Jamaica.
Jean Corbel Monograph Les karsts de nord-ouest de l'Europe and other studies.
Orlando Park Studies of cave beetles of family Pselaphidae.
1960 William Halliday Book Adventure is Underground.
Tom Harrison Archaeological work in the caves of Borneo.
Joseph Lawrence, Jr. Organizing the 1954 Crystal Cave Expedition.
Brian O'Brien Describing caves in Australia and founding the Australian Speleological Foundation.
Clay Perry Books on the caves of New York and New England.
1961 Thomas Barr, Jr. Studies on evolution and ecology of cave animals.
George Deike III Thesis on cave development in Burnsville Cove.
Oscar Hawksley, Frank Dahlgren and Jerry Vineyard Missouri Speleological Survey.
1962 Samual Davis Business manager of the NSS News.
Aola Richards Cave Biology of Australia and New Zealand.
1963 Richard Anderson NSS Cave Files Committee.
Masuzo Ueno Cave Fauna of Japan and surrounding islands.
Dwight Deal, Herb Conn and Jan Conn Survey of Jewel Cave.
1964 James Reddell Texas Speleological Survey.
Hubert Trimmel Internationale Bibliographie fur Spelaologie.
1965 Henry Douglas Caves of Virginia.
Arthur Lange and Raymond deSaussure Cave Research Association, Cave Notes.
1966 John Guilday Paleontology at New Paris sinkholes.
Allen McCrady Speleo Digest editing.
Hermine Zotter Water tracing in West Virginia.
1967 Lewis Bicking Friars Hole Cave System.
Donald Cournoyer Years of service as NSS officer.
Russell Gurnee Rio Camuy Cave Project.
Victor Schmidt Efforts in cave conservation.
1968 Ralph Ewers and Cincinnati Museum of Natural History Board of Directors Cave exhibits at Cincinnati Museum of Natural History.
John Fish, Terry Raines and William Russell Mexican caves, Caves of the Inter-American Highway.
Theodore Schad Financial work for the NSS and National Speleological Foundation.
1969 John Cooper, Tom Johnson and the Huntsville Grotto Shelta Cave Project.
John Carman Legal advice to the NSS.
1970 John Holsinger Dissertation on amphipod genus Stygonectes.
Robert Mitchell Dissertation on carabid beetle Rhadine subterranea.
Arthur Palmer Dissertation on Indiana karst hydrology.
George Deike, III Dissertation on cave development in Mammoth Cave region.
1971 George Benjamin Exploration of underwater caves in the Caribbean.
Derek Ford Contributions to cave geology, leading the Macmaster University karst research team.
Victor Schmidt Contributions of cave conservation.
1972 Douglas Medville and Hazel Medville Book Caves of Randolph County.
Richard Franz and Dennis Slifer Book Caves of Maryland.
Larry E. Matthews Book Descriptions of Tennessee Caves.
1973 Charles Brown Dissertation on karst in the Canadian Rockies.
Cave Research Foundation Flint-Mammoth connection.
Pete Lindsley Guadalupe Cave Survey.
William Varnedoe Alabama Cave Survey.
1974 Joseph Jennings Research on karst throughout the world.
Watson Monroe Study of Puerto Rican karst, glossary of karst.
Henry Rauch Dissertation research in the Appalachians, karst research center at West Virginia University.
Roger Baroody Caving in the Virginias, West Virginia Speleological Survey.
Betty Mayo Establishing a functional NSS office in Huntsville, AL.
1975 Robert Stitt Efforts on cave conservation.
Tom Poulson Studies of aquatic cave animals.
Stewart Peck Chairing the Stone Research Grant Committee.
Patty Jo Watson Book Archeology of the Mammoth Cave Area.
1976 Ray Mansfield and Tony Oldham Current Titles in Speleology.
Peter Thompson and Russell Harmon Pioneering efforts in radioactive dating and climate interpretation.
Richard Powell Dissertation on Indiana karst.
1977 Stewart Peck Outstanding papers in biospeleology.
John Stokes Computerizing the NSS membership.
1978 Neil Montgomery Book Single Rope Techniques.
Carol Hill Book Cave Minerals.
David Culver Studies of ecology of acquatic cave animals.
Sara Corrie Good fellowship and enthusiasm in vertical caving.
1979 Albert Hawkins Mammoth Cave National Park master plan.
Mark Grady and Mike McEachern Cave inventory and evaluation in New Melones area.
1980 Daniel Smith Founding the National Cave Rescue Commission.
John Meenehan Preserving the Culverwell drawings.
1981 Albert Mueller Service to the National Speleological Foundation.
Bernard Geze Distinguished foreign contributions to speleology.
Ivan Gams Distinguished foreign contributions to speleology.
1982 8th ICS Organizing Committee of the Eighth International Congress of Speleology.
Roger Brucker and Richard Murray Book Trapped!
Sarah Bishop Work on designation of Mammoth Cave as a World Heritage Site.
1983 Lynn Miller and Jane Miller Indiana cave protection bill.
Fred Grady Trout Rocks caves acquisition.
1984 Nicholas Crawford Karst studies program at Mammoth Cave.
Kenrick Day Conservation of Onyx Cave.
Percy Dougherty Cave Creek Cave Wilderness Study Area.
1985 James Hedges Editing the NSS Bulletin.
James Johnston Managing NSS office and Shelta Cave.
Jerry Thornton Memorandum of Understanding with Bureau of Land Management.
1986 Frank Howarth Studies of cave fauna of lava tubes.
Fred Stone Studies of Australian cave fauna.
1987 The Bighorn Cave Research Project Cave exploration and study.
Mike Dyas Writing the "Dyas Digest" in the NSS News.
Michael DiTonto Karst research in Jamaica.
1988 Allen Padgett and Bruce Smith Book On Rope.
The Huautla Project Cave exploration and mapping.
John Clark Legal work.
1989 Allen McCrady and Harold Hamilton Paleontology field laboratory at New Paris sinkholes.
John Scheltens and Janet Thorne Federal Cave Resource Protection Act.
Organ Cave System Project Book Caves of the Organ Cave Plateau.
1990 Wakulla Springs Project Exploration of Wakulla Springs and book.
Gary Tennen and Randy Tufts Exploration and protection of Kartchner Caverns.
Peter Bosted and Karen Lindsley Book Atlas of the Great Caves of the World.
Philip Lucas Computerization of Virginia Speleological Survey cave files.
1991 Judy Stack and Pennsylvania Cave Law Task Force Passage of state cave protection act.
Proyecto Papalo Exploration of Sistema Cuicateco (now Cheve).
1992 Colorado Grotto and Management of Cave of the Winds Management of Silent Splendor in Cave of the Winds.
Spring Mill Project Exploration and mapping of caves in Spring Mill State Park, Indiana.
50-Year History Committee NSS history book Caving in America.
1993 Karlin Meyers, Ernie Garza and Proyecto Cerro Rabon Exploration project in southern Mexico.
Dave Belski and Steve Peerman New Mexico Gypsum Karst Project (GYPKAP).
David Culver and Horton Hobbs, III Popular education in biospeleology.
Scott Hollow Project Study of West Virginia cave.
1994 William Balfour Databases on West Virginia caves.
John Sutter Cavers' e-mail list.
Nicholas Crawford and Western Kentucky University Center for Cave and Karst Studies Summer speleology courses at Mammoth Cave.
1995 George Dasher Books On Station and The Caves and Karst of the Buckeye Creek Basin.
Trevor Ford Editing British journal Cave and Karst Science.
Donald Paquette Leadership in National Cave Rescue Commission.
Tom Rea NSS membership database program.
1996 The Lint Pickers Project Conservation work in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Keith Dunlap and the Indiana Karst Conservancy Karst protection during Indiana highway project.
1997 Joshua Abdulla Development of the NSS web home page.
George Veni and Daniel Chess Organizing AAAS Symposium.
1998 Southeastern Cave Conservancy Purchase of Neversink Pit.
Ira Sasowsky Indexes to NSS Bulletin and Speleo Digest.
John Hempel Preservation of Chestnut Ridge karst area.
1999 Great Saltpetre Cave Preserve Committee Cave management and protection of the Great Saltpetre Cave Preserve.
Rod Horrocks Coordination of volunteers at Timpanogos Cave National Monument.
Roswell Jones and Bruce Bannerman Audio-visual support to NSS Photo Salon and Awards Banquet.
2000 Christopher Richard Cave exhibit at Oakland Museum.
Front Royal Grotto Protection of Riverside Karst Area, Virginia.
Mid-Atlantic Karst Conservancy Purchase of Billy Clay Pit, West Virginia.
2001 Scott Fee Bringing the Speleo Digest series current.
VPI Grotto Study for protection of karst resources in Skydusky Hollow, Virginia.
Randall Blackwood Video Caves, Critters, and Speleology.
2002 Eric Hendrickson and Melissa Hendrickson Passage of the Maine Cave Protection Law.
Jim Nepstad Cave management program at Wind Cave National Park.
Paul Stevens and Lee Stevens Leadership of the NSS Salon Committee.
2003 Peter Bosted Cartographic innovation at Lilburn Cave.
Annette Long and Mark Long Protection of Manatee Spring Cave.
Nashville Grotto Protection of Spencer Mountain caves.
2004 Robert Burnett and Orion Knox Cave Restoration Project at Gruta del Palmito, Mexico.
Kevin Allred, Carlene Allred and Bob Richards Publishing Kazamura Cave Atlas.
Guadalupe Area of Cave Research Foundation Conservation and restoration projects at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
2005 David Culver and William White Publishing Encyclopedia of Caves.
Kelly Deem NSS Fundraising auctions at conventions.
Rocky Parson West Virginia Quarry Law.
2006 Virginia Region Continuing support of Grand Caverns in Grottoes. Virginia.
Germany Valley Karst Survey and Gordon Brace Reestablishing land owner relationships and involving many cavers in the continued exploration of this historic karst area.
2007 Jim C. Werker & Val Hildreth-Werker Publication of Cave Conservation and Restoration
2008 Woodville Karst Plain Project Connection of Wakulla Spring Cave to the Leon Sinks Cave System in northern Florida
Marcus Gary and Bill Stone Research at the deep water-filled, limestone sinks at Rancho La Azufrosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico
Steve Bogaerts and Robbie Schmittner Connection of Sistema Sac Actun to Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich in Quintana Roo, Mexico
2009 John J. Corcoran III Initiation and continued management of the Fort Stanton Cave Study Project
Rick and Faye Bowersox Outstanding service with the Junior Speleological Society
David W. Everton, William J. Baus, and the Richard Blenz Nature Conservancy Conservation and Restoration of Buckner Cave, Indiana
2010 George R. Phillips Rapid response to a major threat to Sharps Cave and the Elk River karst in West Virginia
Peter Youngbaer Work on behalf of the NSS concerning the White Nose Syndrome epidemic in bats
15th ICS Organizing Committee Work on the 2009 International Congress of Speleology
2011 Dr. Doug Boyer Professional assistance to others and long-term studies of the effects of land-use and agricultural practices on the quality of water in caves and springs
Paul Burger Work to protect and document park caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park
2012 Sewanee Mountain Grotto Continuous conservation efforts directly impacting the Orme Mountain Road area of the Russell Cave National Monument Watershed
Aida and Robert Mothes Long-term management of the Friars Hole Cave System (WV)
2013 Jody Bailey Design and production of a Lava Tube Caves poster displayed at NASA Lunar and Planetary Research Conference in Houston in 2012
2014 Maureen Handler Representing the numerous volunteers who renovated the NSS Headquarters and Conference Center
Edd Sorenson At the risk of his own life, saved four people in 2012 in three separate cave diving incidents
Bill Mixon Put more than 3,000 maps of Mexican Caves on the Association for Mexican Cave Studies web site
2015 Bexar Grotto For the organizing of the First Texas Hydro-Geo Workshop in 2014
Philip Lucas & Nathan Farrar For the writing and preparation of the book Caves of the Water Sinks Area
Oregon High Desert Grotto For its lead role in the Sandy Glacier Caves project
2015 Bexar Grotto For the organizing of the First Texas Hydro-Geo Workshop in 2014
Philip Lucas & Nathan Farrar For the writing and preparation of the book Caves of the Water Sinks Area
Oregon High Desert Grotto For its lead role in the Sandy Glacier Caves project
2016 Peter Johnson/Derek Bristol For completion of the bolt climb up of Perseverance Dome in Hellhole Cave
Ron Delano/Donal Davis For the publication of the Lechuguilla Triology
Dr. Ronald J. Lipinski For the development of the Fort Stanton Cave simulation program.
2017 Birmingham Grotto For service to the society by renovating two pavilions at the NSS Headquarters and Conference Center in 2013 and 2014
Bruce Rogers For his work leading to the MoU between the Western Cave Conservancy and the Peninsula Open Space Trust
Earl and Cheryl Suitor For leading the effort to open and manage Sites Cave and Cave Rat Cave in West Virginia
2018 Butler Cave Conservation Society For the compilation of the book: The Caves of Burnsville Cove, Virginia
Fort Stanton Cave Study Project - editors Pete Lindsley and Lee Skinner For the publication of the book: 12 Miles from Daylight: Fort Stanton Cave and the Snowy River Discovery.
2019 Michael and Donna Frazier For their January 2018 purchase of Colorado’s historic Cave of the Clouds.
2020 Patti Cummings For leadership of the Richard Blenz Nature Conservancy
Ray Garton For serving as treasurer and the publication-distribution person for the West Virginia Speleological Survey for almost 50 years
2021 Bob Gulden For maintaining national and international long and deep cave lists
2020 NSS Virtual Convention Staff For putting on the NSS virtual convention
2022 Jim Kennedy For leadership and organization of the National Cave and Karst Management Symposium (NCKMS)
Dave Springhetti, Nick Anderson, and John Scheltens For fabrication and installation of replacement cave gates at two NSS preserves
2023 Carol Belski For continuing service to the Southwest Region, including 44 years as editor of the Southwestern Caver