2019 Elections

Christi Burrell

Christi Burrell started caving in 1987. Her first cave was Robber Barron followed by Logan’s and then Benders Water Cave (now Twinkie’s Cave). She visited all three of these caves in a two week period. She was hooked. Since then, she has explored caves all over Texas, New Mexico, and other states. Mrs. Burrell has held office in the TSA in the past. She truly appreciates all of the conservation work that has been done by the TCMA.

In addition to caving, she also enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, rock hounding, and canoeing. She is married to Mike Burrell, who is also a caver. They live on the property of Cave Without a Name in Boerne, Texas where her husband has been working for several years. Mrs. Burrell works at First Presbyterian Church San Antonio located 2 blocks from the Alamo in downtown San Antonio. Her work for the church is in the finance department, and she has been working in nonprofit finance for almost 20 years.

Michael Cicherski

Michael Cicherski has been caving regularly since the late 80’s. He is a Fellow of the National Speleological Society and a recipient of the National Speleological Society Certificate of Merit.

Michael has participated in the Honey Creek Cave, Powell’s Cave, and other projects here in Texas, as well as projects in Montana, Kentucky and in Mexico. Michael continues to be an active caver, and is the Co-Project Director in two on-going efforts in the Texas Hill Country. 

Michael has previously held positions of leadership in the TSA, TCMA and in The 15th International Congress of Speleology. As Treasurer, he brought a high level of professional bookkeeping standards to each of the organizations, and was instrumental in helping the Congress turn a profit in 2009. 

In addition to the role of Treasurer, Michael has served on various TCMA Committees, assisted on various projects in each of the organizations, and briefly served as a Preserve Manager for Ezells Cave.

As a member of the Board, Michael will help the TCMA focus on their Mission Statement of acquisition, management, protection and accessibility of caves in Texas. 

Ben Dau

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 three years ago, Ben has been active in the Texas caving community. He has volunteered at the Deep and Punkin and Robber Baron Cave Preserves, 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 beaches and bayous.

 

Mandy Novak

I have been an active member of the UT Grotto for 2 years after joining a trip to Deep and Punkin. In those 2 short years, I have been involved with multiple TCMA cave projects and I plan on continuing those efforts. As a member, I have worked on digs & cleanup at Whirlpool, construction of a new gate for O9 Wel, various projects at D&P, along with other non-TCMA cave projects. My background is in native horticulture so I understand the significance of preserving the special nature of Texas and keeping it that way. 

In addition to helping preserve the TCMA caves, I believe it is essential to recruit and introduce caving to those who are interested. After helping with the UT Grotto table at Barton Springs University, I learned that there are so many people that are unaware of what we do and they want to get involved. I hope to garner more interest by organizing efforts to do so. Whether it involves people respecting the underground from afar, or actually getting physically involved, education on how caves impact our daily lives is an enormous facet in preserving them.

When I’m not stuck in Austin traffic or working, I am usually filling my free time with gardening, bouldering, eating Tex-Mex food, or caving of course. 

Kevin Pride

Growing up in Georgia, I had no idea what was beneath my feet (other than red dirt). As a kid, I hiked and canoed throughout the smoky mountains and occasionally would stumble across a hole in the ground. Being the natural spelunker that I was, I would take an old flashlight and explore until I thought it was too risky. Fast forward about twenty years and I now know that any amount of solo exploring is too risky. 

I formally began caving about four years ago with the Greater Houston Grotto. Roger Moore was a friend of my girlfriend and commented on Facebook pictures that she posted of us in Bee Cave in Kickapoo Caverns State Park. Once again, I stumbled across Bee Cave while doing a little off trail exploring. Roger suggested that I join GHG. I’m glad I took his advice. At my first meeting I signed up for a trip to Logan’s cave in Helotes. Little did I know, I was about to find more than an exciting caving experience – I was about to find a community that continues to be a second family to me and my daughter. The trip was lead by an all-star cast of amazing people who I now consider family (for better or worse) – Ellie Watson, Aaron and Victoria, Peter D, Trevor, Courtney from GHG, Amy Morton, and Tom Rogers (my cave parents), Fernando, and Galen. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few other folks. After that cave trip I was hooked. I joined all the caver clubs – TSA, NSS, UT Grotto.  I became most active in Bexar Grotto and quickly became a regular at Government Canyon Karst Survey Project. Marvin Miller became my mentor and taught me most of the basics of Karst surveys and caving. Some of my favorite caving memories took place under the dense brush of government canyon with “Mellow Marvin Miller” (TM). Against all odds, he allowed me to bring my toddler, Daisy, with me on these surveys and I realized that this caving thing was so much more than a fun way to blow off steam on the weekend but something that would enrich my family’s life for years to come. 

I am eager to submit my request to run for the TCMA board. I intend on focusing on family friendly activities and events with a focus on science education. Three years ago, Peter Sprouse gave my daughter an honorary Junior Cave Scientist badge. She cherishes the badge to this day. I would like to facilitate a club within TCMA that would encourage families in taking a scientific approach to cave trips. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to caving with you all soon!

Ryan Monjaras

Hello, my name is Ryan Monjaras. I’m running for TCMA Board. I’ve been caving since 2008, I’ve been a member of numerous grottos current & defunct, and I’ve held an officer position in most of them. In short I know Texas caves and I know Texas cavers from all over. I’ve been to at least one clean up for every preserve we host clean ups for and have managed Lost Oasis Cave Preserve in the past. I’ve not been very active since moving to Houston but my passion for caves is still there. Thank you for your consideration. 

 

Ron Ralph

I am running for the position of Director of the Texas Cave Management Association.  I am a past Director during which I attended almost every board meeting.  I live in Austin and have attended various cave functions such as TCR, NSS conventions, Bustamante clean-up and cave surveys in state parks.

I have been on the TCMA Budget committee for several years now and have served on the Database and the Elections committee.  I have also been the Manager for Lost Oasis and Ezells Cave Preserves.  I have also presented programs to the public and to the State Legislature concerning TCMA and the benefit of cave protection and preservation.

If elected, I would like to continue a project to work with ranch owners with caves on their property to allow TCMA, assisted by TSA, to remove old trash and rehabilitate formations.

Carol Schumacher

Carol Schumacher has been part of the caving community since 1999 when she brought her son 16, into the community to became the youngest president of the UT grotto at 17. She held the title of vice chair the proceeding year.

Her contributions to community are endless but her most memorable was being able to hand her son and daughter their high school diplomas as a BISD school board trustee. 

Carol’s respect of cave structures we live above and importance in gaurdianship started with her son’s, but has only strengthened since being involved in this conservation community. 

“I would like to make an even wider contribution to the family I love.”

Cruz St. Peter

Cruz St. Peter has been an active caver and diligent member of the caving community for nearly a decade. Cruz first began caving in 2010 as a member of the Aggie Speleological Society at Texas A&M University. He quickly fell in love with the underground world and the wonderful people he befriended in the caving community. Cruz joined the Greater Houston Grotto in 2015, where he currently serves as Vice-Chair. He is an active caver who has participated in several expedition projects, including Sistema Chevé in Oaxaca, Proyecto Espeleológico Purificación in Nuevo León, and the Silvertip System in Montana. Additionally, he has volunteered a significant amount of his free time toward cave wildlife conservation; assisting with several White-nose syndrome research projects in Texas and Northern Mexico. His most recent conservation effort involved building a cave gate in Tennessee, to protect a maternal colony of endangered bats.

Cruz’s track record of leadership and commitment to cave conservation make him a qualified candidate to join the TCMA board. Mr. St. Peter currently serves on the Board of Directors for a bio-pharmaceutical company, Blood and Plasma Research, Inc. His background in environmental science and his professional life in industry research have honed his skills in networking, technical writing, and navigating funding opportunities. This skill set will be of huge benefit to TCMA when searching for external funding and drafting grant proposals.

TCMA has a large presence in San Antonio and Austin, but not much in areas of eastern Texas. As a member of the TCMA board, Cruz would work hard to educate the Houston community on cave conservation and safe caving practices, expanding TCMA’s visibility beyond the Texas Hill Country.