2021 Election Candidates
I started caving around 1972 in Terrero, New Mexico. I was just a hellion kid with a flashlight. It wasn’t until 1984, when visiting my good friends Mike Trent in Tucson Arizona and going on multiple caving trips, that I found out about organized caving clubs and the NSS. In fact, it was about 2am in Scroll Cave when I came face to face with members of the Escabrosa Grotto. I was hooked.
While living in Waco Tx from 1985 to 1987, I visited my friends in southern Arizona a few more times and always went caving. Also at this time I made it to a few meetings at the Dallas Grotto but could not find a way to get invited to any upcoming trips. I did not know enough to look for the UT Grotto in Austin.
I joined the NSS in 1987. I got my 30 year pin a few years ago.
I moved to San Antonio in 1988 and joined the Bexar Grotto.
I joined the TSA in 1989, and the TCMA in 1990. My memberships in both have lapsed a few times.
From 1988 to 1995 I actively caved in and around Texas and Mexico.
From 1996 to 2003 I was mostly absent from the organized caving community. Completing my studies at University, a new job, moved around, etc.
In 2003 I re-entered our caving community and have been active since.
Over the years I have held a couple of officer positions within Bexar Grotto.
2008 & 2009 – Texas Speleological Association Vice Chairman
2016 – 2018 – Texas Speleological Association Chairman
2019-2010 – TCMA Deep & Punkin Asst. Manager
For many years I have worked with a number of Boy Scout troops / Explorer Posts introducing them to caving through presentations and then guiding them into local caves.
If elected to the TCMA board, I will earnestly perform all required duties. I will assist the officers and other directors in their tasks.
Ben Dau has been an avid outdoors enthusiast since his parents put him on cross country skis before he was two. Ever since then, he’s been hooked and spends most of his free time enjoying the outdoors. He is an avid rock climber, canyoneer, and mountaineer. Ben eventually got his caving toes wet ridgewalking while living in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness. Since moving to the Houston area four years ago, Ben has been active in the Texas caving community. He has volunteered at various TCMA properties, and participated in various tank haul projects. Ben has also been active in the national and international caving communities by participating in exploration projects in Montana and Mexico. Ben is a strong advocate for managing both cave recreation and nature conservation. While not traveling for caving, Ben volunteers with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, cleaning trash from local beaches and bayous.
Andy Edwards started caving in 2011 after visiting Airman’s repeatedly with friends. He got involved in Fisher Ridge later year and has gone on dozens of survey trips ever since, as well as various long-term dig projects in Austin, Kentucky, and elsewhere. In 2014, he became the treasurer for Detroit Urban Grotto (the Fisher Ridge Grotto) and has served as treasurer ever since.
Being a programmer, he made a Google Sheet for keeping track of DUG’s members and finances, and shared it with other members of the project so that cash flows would be as transparent as possible. He’s also the author of Breakout, a 3D cave survey visualizer, has contributed features like Walls import to Cavewhere, and at some point hopes to decipher enough of Walls’ source code to contribute some improvements to it.
Jim “Crash” Kennedy began caving in 1973 as a Boy Scout, and soon learned about vertical caving, cave conservation, cave rescue, and cave mapping as a member of the Nittany Grotto. After graduating with degrees in Biology and Environmental Education, he moved to Texas in 1995 to take a position with Bat Conservation International. There, he worked for 18 years as Cave Resources Specialist, studying and protecting caves across the US and other countries. In 2013 he left to found his own small consulting firm, Kennedy Above/Under Ground, LLC. He currently specializes in the design and construction of particularly large and difficult cave and mine gating projects across the United States. His background and experience in cave microclimates and the restoration of cave ecosystems altered by human actions makes him one of the top cave conservationists in the country.
In Texas, Jim was quickly appointed to a position on the Texas Speleological Survey Board, and has since served as Editor (Vice President), Secretary, and Office Manager. He has also served as both Chair, Vice-Chair, and Editor of the Texas Speleological Association at various times, and has organized three TSA Spring Conventions. He is currently the Chief Organizer and Head Cat Herder for the Texas Cavers Reunion. He also served two terms previously as a TCMA Board Member, and was Preserves Committee Chair during his entire tenure. And he is on the Advisory Board of the Association for Mexican Cave Studies.
Nationally, Jim is a Fellow and Life Member of the National Speleological Society, and is the former Bat Conservation Liaison for the NSS. Currently, he is the NSS representative and Chair of the steering Committee for the National Cave and Karst Management Symposium. He is also chairing the organizing committee for the 2021 NCKMS Symposium which will be taking place in San Marcos, TX on 15 December. Jim has contributed a chapter to the excellent NSS book, Cave Conservation and Restoration, and has written numerous other articles throughout the years. He is the former project coordinator for the TSA’s Colorado Bend State Park Karst Research Project, is coordinating the ongoing survey of TCMA’s Punkin Cave, and has run 17 mapping expeditions (so far) to the Laguna de Sánchez area in northern Mexico.
Jim’s caving philosophy is that identification and protection of the cave resources require good data and careful planning. You can’t protect what you don’t know. And people don’t care about things they don’t understand. It was hard to find a photo to include with this bio because he is usually the one on the other side of the camera, doing all the background organizing for trips. He enjoys surveying and is more than happy to take new cavers along to teach them the tricks. Jim eats, sleeps, and breathes caves, much to the chagrin of his wife. But if elected, you can be assured that he will do the best job possible in managing TCMA’s caves.
I have been an avid lover of the outdoors as far back as I have memories. My interest in caves began at about the age of 12 when I entered my first wild cave (Wurzbach Bat Cave). That began a never ending fascination of exploring the underground which ultimately led to a degree in Geology and involvement with the Bexar Grotto in the early 90s.
My passion for caving led me to become a former board member of the Bexar Grotto, and to actively participate in many volunteer efforts for community outreach, fundraising, and organizing caving trips for the Grotto. I have also been active in many project oriented caving trips for years.
I am currently a member of the board of directors of TCMA and active in fundraising and acquisitions. In 2019 I helped spearhead the acquisition of the new Carta Valley Preserve and the as yet unnamed cave.
I believe the TCMA board, as well as its membership, should work hard to enhance its fund raising sources of TCMA so we can continue to do the things that well are all passionate about, and that is find and preserve new caves, and provide responsible access to our members. I wish to continue to serve the TCMA and the Texas caving community for the next 3 years in this capacity.
I request your vote for TCMA board member. Caving has been a major part of my life since the 1980’s. As cave environments have become more threatened and as access to caves has become more difficult, TCMA has become more important in preserving cave environments and access. I am very proud of the work TCMA has done, and of the acquisitions TCMA has made, and I want to continueworking on this. Transitioning to a more professional organization with broader reach into the community, and broader access to resources of the community as well as continued outreach to cavers is one of my goals for the next few years in TCMA. As we acquire more properties, we need more resources.
Additionally, I think the role of Texas cavers needs to be organized and expanded in the organization. Keeping Texas cavers informed of the activities and issues of TCMA is important, but sometimes neglected in the rush of just keeping up with what is happening. One of my goals is to make this more of a priority in the next few years. Current work to protect Robber Baron Cave and the watershed of Honey Creek Cave are two examples of where more information could be passed on to members.