“UNDERGROUND” CONVENTION ARRIVING NEXT WEEK

June 13, 2019
“UNDERGROUND” CONVENTION ARRIVING NEXT WEEK
Cookeville, Tenn. to Host World’s Largest Caving Organization
 
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Since early 2017, the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau has been meeting and coordinating with the National Speleological Society’s leadership team, as they plan their national convention, taking place next week, June 17-21, 2019. 
 
With more than 10,000 caves in Tennessee, and its majority located along the Cumberland Plateau, the NSS thought Cookeville a natural fit to serve as the headquarters for an expected 1,500 cavers as they explore caves throughout the region and host educational and scientific presentations. 
 
Tennessee has not served as host for the annual NSS Convention in more than twenty years, since hosted in Sewanee in 1998. With most of cavers staying in Cookeville, the group plans to explore caves throughout the Upper Cumberland with educational and scientific presentations being conducted at Cookeville High School, as well as on the campus of Tennessee Tech University. 
 
“The NSS chose Cookeville for our 2019 Convention due to its proximity to some of the best caving in the world,” said 2019 NSS Convention Chair Maureen Handler. “Cookeville offers all of the facilities needed to host up to 1,500 cavers for the week of convention.” 
 
“Our convention offers the opportunity for our members to present their science, exploration and education initiatives to the membership. We are excited to call Cookeville our home for a week,” added Handler.
 
Areas of focus for the NSS include promoting safe and responsible caving practices, effective cave and karst management, speleology, and conservation. Educational sessions and presentations will feature domestic and international cave exploration, the use of geological and biological science and other new technologies in cave exploration and study as well as a special session on Tennessee caves: “Land of 10,000 Caves.”
 
Local residents and area guests will have the opportunity to “go underground” as well with a mobile cave simulator. Invented by a caver & MIT engineer, CaveSim makes highly realistic artificial caves that teach STEM concepts. Interactive electronic formations, fauna, & artifacts teach conservation in 60 feet of multi-level passage. Computer scoring tracks which formations you “damage” as you explore. Vie for “most careful caver” while learning & having fun. The CaveSim will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT each day from June 17-21 at Cookeville High School, 2335 North Washington Avenue, Cookeville, TN 38501.
 
The NSS holds 10,000 members and 250 grottos (chapters) and is the largest organization in the world working every day to further the exploration, study, and protection of caves and their environments, and foster fellowship among cavers. 
 
The mission statement of the National Speleological Society is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the scientific study of caves and karst; protecting caves and their natural contents through conservation, ownership, stewardship, and public education; and promoting responsible cave exploration and fellowship among those interested in caves. To learn more about NSS, go to: https://caves.org/ 
 
For inquiries regarding CaveSim, LLC, contact Dave Jackson at jacksondmit@cavesim.com 
 
The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, a program of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, serves as the designated destination marketing organization (DMO) for Putnam County and is funded by a portion of the Putnam County lodging tax, a tax paid by visitors’ and collected by local lodging partners such as hotels, bed & breakfasts, etc. Ranking at 17th of Tennessee’s 95 counties, the visitors’ bureau is tasked with inspiring travel and overnight stays in Putnam County. Primary marketing pillars in drive and fly markets include outdoors; fitness/sports; motorcycling; arts/culture; and culinary/crafts. Most recent U.S. Travel Association statistics note visitor spending in Putnam County generated $2.7 million in local tax revenue, providing a tax relief for local residents of $358.47 per household. To learn more about the work of the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, go to www.VisitCookevilleTN.com or request additional information at info@VisitCookevilleTN.com
 
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IMAGE : Cookeville to welcome approximately 1,500 cavers for the National Speleological Society’s 2019 Convention next week. Pictured is Secret Cave in Putnam County, one of the thousands of caves in the surrounding area. Credit: Chuck Sutherland