Cave exploration focus of upcoming MDC virtual program

Dan Zarlenga, Missouri Department of Conservation
MDC will offer an Introduction to Caves and Caving program Tuesday, June 15. This is a hybrid event, where 10 pre-scheduled participants will embark on a caving journey, while a virtual audience can follow along as they start their trip.

What’s the next best thing to experiencing an adventure in person? Experiencing it live as it happens through modern, live stream technology. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is providing the opportunity for anyone to follow Missouri cave explorers virtually in real time using their computer or mobile device as the group prepares for a subterranean trek.

MDC will hold an Introduction to Caves and Caving virtual program Tuesday, June 15 from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The event is free and open to all ages. This is a hybrid event, where 10 pre-scheduled participants will embark on a caving journey, while a virtual audience can follow along as they start their trip.

The event begins with an educational, in-classroom presentation that will cover many aspects of Missouri’s caves. Participants will learn about these unusual habitats, the life forms that live there, and why we need to protect this unique ecosystem.

“Missouri is known as the Cave State. It consists of over 7,500 natural caves and some contain unique animal life found nowhere else on earth, such as the Tumbling Creek cavesnail,” said MDC Naturalist, Shelly Colatskie. Colatskie added that the presentation will also include caving safety tips.

After the presentation wraps up, there will be a brief pause as the group of in-person cave explorers travel to Cliff Cave in St. Louis County’s Cliff Cave Park to begin their journey underground. When the program resumes, virtual participants will be able to watch as the cavers gear up and prepare to enter the cave. Before the group ventures inside, they’ll examine the rich and colorful history of Cliff Cave, which for Europeans dates back to 1749—and even farther for Native Americans, who looked upon the cave as a sacred place.

“We’ll have to end the virtual part at this point since we won’t have streaming service underground,” Colatskie explained. “But we’ll take pictures during the caving trip and share them with all the virtual participants.”

Introduction to Caves and Caving is a free program; however, advanced online registration is required at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZrL. This is a virtual event through WebEx. Participants will receive an email invitation with the link approximately 24 hours prior to the event. Please check junk mail/spam folders if you do not receive the invitation.

MDC offers many free educational programs in the St. Louis region to help people discover nature, fishing, hunting, and the outdoors. Stay informed by going to the MDC St. Louis regional events page at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZP6