2024 NSS Board of Governors Candidate Statements

Out of the Cave 📷 Kasia Biernacka
Out of the Cave 📷 Kasia Biernacka

The 2024 NSS election is coming soon! Cast your vote and help the society shape the future Board of Governors.

What is the NSS Board of Governors?

The NSS Board of Governors (BoG), consisting of a 12-member Directorate and 5-member Executive Committee, conducts and supervises all business of the Society. The Acts of the Board and other directives, under which the NSS is governed, and the Board operates are maintained in the Board of Governors Manual.

The Board of Governors meets at least three times a year. Members are encouraged to attend all meetings and can do so remotely. The three meetings include a summer meeting during the NSS Convention. The other two meetings are hosted by grottos in various parts of the country in the fall and spring, providing Board members the opportunity to learn about local activities and discuss issues with cavers throughout the country. The variety of venues is important in encouraging as many NSS members as possible to attend and participate in the Board meetings.

Who is running for the BoG?

The following NSS members are running for the BoG or up for reelection. Click “Continue Reading” to review their full platform statements.

Mike Backe

 When I was in grammar school, I read a short story about cave exploration. After reading that piece, I was fascinated by the prospect of caving someday. There were no caves in my neighborhood, but I discovered and explored a storm drain system under the interstate near my house. My first cave trip was a spelunking adventure with the Pennsylvania State University Mont Alto Outing Club (eight guys with maybe five flashlights) in 1975. After that trip, I checked out a caving book from the library; I think it was McClurg’s The Amateur’s Guide to Cave and Caving. I found that the club had hardhats and carbide lamps but were missing parts for which I found replacements at the local hardware store. After reading McClug’s book, I led the next cave trip as a new caver…Continue Reading

Zach Englebert

It’s an honor to be running for a Director position with the National Speleological Society. I think everyone that knows me is aware of my passion for caving, cave conservation, and the caving community. Finding caving changed my whole course of life for the better and it’s rare I go even an hour without thinking of something caving related. Since I found caving in 2017 it has strongly influenced most of my decisions in life such as the friends I have, the places I live and travel to, the jobs I apply to, and much more…Continue Reading

Dennis Melko

Why do we cave? We pursue and stay involved with activities we enjoy and that offer us personal benefit. Novelty may drive us for a time. Sometimes it’s the love of challenges, the experience of personal growth, or simply aesthetic appreciation. We may develop meaning and purpose that nourishes us. There’s more and the reasons vary so much. I’m motivated in having the NSS represent our members in all our various approaches to caving, while maintaining a focus on minimal impact enjoyment and best practices for safety and preservation…Continue Reading

Aria Mildice

I started caving 7 years ago while working at Carlsbad Caverns, but since I was a kid, I’ve been obsessed with the underground. As a kid on family vacations and road trips, I would force my family to stop for cave and mine tours throughout the US. It wasn’t until I was interviewing for an Interpretive Ranger position at Carlsbad Caverns that I realized that there were people who went caving for fun, science, sport, and work, and that I could be one of them…Continue Reading

Anna Pearce

Hello fellow cavers and NSS members! In April of 2019, I ventured into this captivating world of caving. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, having regularly participated in whitewater and flatwater kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing, I felt inclined to tackle a new hobby. With this newfound goal, I planned a trip to the show cave, Cathedral Caverns, to get a taste of the underground world. Following that trip, I visited my first wild cave – Tumbling Rock, in Scottsboro, Alabama. I was mesmerized by the subterranean world and continued visiting Tumbling Rock as well as other horizontal caves in the TAG region until I decided it was time to join a grotto to meet other cavers and learn more about caving…Continue Reading

What comes next? How do I vote for BoG candidates?

  • Review the candidate platforms and reach out to them with any questions.
  • NSS members will receive ballots for the 2024 Directors’ Election on March 15, 2024.
  • Cast your vote by completing the ballot, either on paper or electronically. Members may vote for no more than FOUR (4) candidates. Members may vote for fewer than four candidates.
  • Completed ballots are due April 15, 2024.
  • Members will be notified of election results on or before April 21, 2024.
  • New BoG Directors take office on July 1, 2024.

Please reach out to the Nominating Committee with any questions.


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