Chelsea Ballard is the membership and Volunteer Coordinator.
Chelsea grew up only 4 miles from Hidden River Cave and has been fascinated with caves and sinkholes since she was a young girl. She grew up on a farm where sinkholes are an everyday challenge. While in fourth grade in 2005, hurricane Katrina came through and several inches of rain dropped in a short amount of time. The next morning she went out to feed her ducks before school and noticed that her ducks were missing and the pond that she would normally find the ducks were gone. She went down to investigate and found a sinkhole had drained her pond and at the bottom of the sinkhole exposed an underground river system to a cave. She started to hear her ducks and sure enough, 19 ducks and 1 goose were swimming down in the cave. For 3 days she would shuck corn down into the sinkhole for the ducks and goose until the neighbor came over with a backhoe to dig out the sinkhole to free the ducks and goose. Surprisingly, all 19 ducks and 1 goose survived. From that day forward, Chelsea made a promise to herself that when she grows up, her job would be to prevent ducks from falling into sinkholes! This led her to Western Kentucky University to major in Karst Hydrogeology where she is still attending today. During her time at WKU she has completed two undergrad thesis research projects with grant funding, taught a Cave Conservation and Karst Management class in Texas and completed a GIS internship with the National Park Service. She has done various karst related trainings, karst research projects and classes through her career thus far. She has also worked as a cave guide with Diamond Caverns, Hidden River Cave and Mammoth Cave National Park.
She is now the Membership and Volunteer Coordinator here at ACCA and also assists with the Education Program. She plans to build the ACCA program to be a strong nonprofit group in hopes to bring cave conservation awareness to the entire world.
When Chelsea is not working at Mammoth Cave National Park, the ACCA headquarters, or in school; she enjoys project caving, hiking/backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, farming, gardening, traveling and spending time with her parrot, Mango.
Chelsea would still like to form a duck conservation effort to protect them from sinkholes.
P.S. – Chelsea had 2 birthday parties here at the cave when she was 8 and 9 years old. She wanted to show her friends the cave in town.
The American Cave Conservation Association (ACCA) is a National 501 (c) 3 Nonprofit Organization.
Donations and Memberships are Deductible to the Fullest Extent Allowed by Law.