Workshop Sessions



Join us in thematic workshops to facilitate collaboration between international resource protection programs and to inform karst conservation, sustainable development, and community involvement efforts in the world’s premier karst regions. Workshops are 1.5-hour blocks of time that have been organized to achieve a specific outcome. Participants can register for one workshop per session.

SESSION 1 – Thursday, August 20, 8:00-9:30 AM (CDT)

Exploring best practices in data management, integration, and visualization.
Facilitators: Sarah Arpin, Geologist II, Kentucky Geological Survey, and Pat Kambesis, Department of Geography and Geology, WKU

This workshop is intended to help resource managers and researchers consider data from a data-management perspective. An important focus will be exploring tools and techniques for getting the most value out of data. A holistic approach to storing, accessing, and processing data is key to better understanding, management, and protection of vulnerable resources, environments, and ecosystems. The integration of data of all types, sources, and formats for a unified view will also be covered. Visualization of data beyond tables and graphs, using creative 2-D, 3-D, and spatial maps and models, will be explored. Limitations of various software programs used to access, manage, manipulate, and visualize data will be considered. Participants will engage in open discussion of current practices in data management, integration, and visualization, learning from peers, and receive instruction on emerging techniques. Both professionals and the public can benefit from community involvement through crowd sourcing data and citizen science. Making data available through an easy-to-use interface for visualization, searching, and reusability is key to understanding and protecting our natural resources.

Significance of cultural heritage in karst landscape management: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Facilitators: Darja Kranjc, Higher Nature Protection Counselor, Skocjan Caves Park, Slovenia, and Jasna Fakin Bajec, Institute for Culture and Memory Studies, Research Centers of the Slovenian Acadmey of Sciences and Art

This workshop will define cultural heritage and explain potential differences with what is understood as cultural resources and cultural values. After up-to-date theoretical explanation, practice examples will be shared on how cultural heritage typical for limestone areas can help towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), elaborating on the reasons for and practical usage of cultural heritage in management of the UNESCO Karst and Reka River Basin Biosphere Reserve (Slovenia). Participants will be invited to produce a draft of their own “Karst Cultural Heritage Database”, co-create a template for proper sustainable solution development based on cultural heritage, and discuss creation of an open database of sustainable traditional practices and solutions on karst areas around the globe.

Gazing Deeply: The Art and Science of Mammoth Cave. * VIRTUAL TOUR FORMAT Join leaders, Dr. Chris Groves, University Distinguished Professor of Hydrogeology, Western Kentucky University and Tiffany Isslehardt, Curator and Development Manger, Kentucky Museum, as they take you on a tour of the Gazing Deeply exhibition, a collaborative effort between Mammoth Cave National Park and Western Kentucky University arts and science faculty and students that highlights one of the most well-known and vital karst landscapes in the world.

SESSION 2 –  Thursday, August 20, 10:00-11:30 AM (CDT)

Citizen Science, Research and Land Management in Karst
Facilitator: Ben Tobin, Karst Hydrogeologist, Kentucky Geological Survey

Cavers have long been integral to understanding and protecting cave resources around the world. This workshop will bring together cavers, scientists, and managers to discuss the history of these interactions, ways each group has helped the other, challenges to improving our understanding of cave resources and management, and a path forward in continuing to build these relationships. Panelists will come from a range of cave enthusiasts from cavers to karst scientists to land managers and will discuss different aspects of how cavers and the public have helped shape cave and karst science and resource management, challenges, innovations, and discuss a path forward in improving these critical relationships. This workshop will include an interactive question and answer session between the panelists and the audience.

Facilitators: Clayton Lino, Speleologist, Coordinator, Brazilian Biosphere Reserve Network and Lee Anne Bledsoe, Research Hydrologist, Assistant Director, Crawford Hydrology Laboratory at WKU

The CaveMAB network ( is an informal thematic network within the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program. CaveMAB was recently formed in 2018 and hopes to connect people from the more than 100 biosphere reserves with cave and/or karst resources across the globe. The network is multidisciplinary and plans to address the similar challenges we all face, whether social, educational, cultural, or scientific, in protecting the biodiversity of the unique cave and karst environments within Biosphere Reserves (BR). The goal of this workshop is to reach alignment around shared values and vision for the CaveMAB network and develop a declaration of objectives. Anyone working in a cave or karst BR, whether it be via direct BR management or through partner agencies, is encouraged to attend.

Teaching Karst Through Environmental Education
Facilitators: Jennifer Shackleford, Education Specialist, Mammoth Cave National Park and Jeanine Huss, Professor, School of Teacher Education, WKU

Teaching the youth of the world about karst areas is very important. We want to encourage people to make good choices with our environment, so caves and groundwater are not negatively impacted. By teaching youth about caves and karst we are making a positive long term investment in the future of our karst regions. This workshop will present various ways to teach about cave and karst areas to different age groups and allow participants to discuss challenges encountered within their own programs and collectively brainstorm solutions. Anyone interested in educational karst programming should attend. Participants will leave the session with examples of 4th and 5th grade educational programming from Mammoth Cave National Park and links to kindergarten through middle school curriculum.

Tools and Techniques for Urban Karst Hydrology and Hazard Monitoring and Management.*VIRTUAL TOUR FORMAT Participants will engage in a virtual experience to visit several sites and engage in case studies involving various methods and techniques for data collection, monitoring, and equipment/instrumentation use in conducting research and/or collecting data in urban karst systems. Covered topics will include emergency management planning for groundwater and hazard mitigation (sinkholes, contamination events, long-term monitoring, etc.). This will involve an overview of setting up a sampling or monitoring site, monitoring techniques, analytical techniques, data logger deployment and utilization, software selection and usage, data processing, and other related topics. The workshop topics will include the current status of urban karst groundwater monitoring and future directions for planning for high-resolution monitoring, groundwater quality monitoring, hydrologic and geochemical monitoring, flood and hazard monitoring, study site security, and others. It will also include a case study of integrating these techniques in the National Corvette Museum sinkhole project and the elements of its formation, impacts, and remediation. This will highlight the importance of collaborative karst hydrologic and geotechnical investigations to better understand and remediate karst hazards and the usefulness of combining existing and new methods during the process, along with education and outreach, to build resilience against these urban karst hazards through improved awareness and implementation of advanced techniques. Leaders: Dr. Jason S. Polk and Adam Shelley