Our People

Board of Directors

Gary O'Dell, Director

Gary O’Dell



Gary has been exploring and studying caves and karst systems for more than fifty years, having joined the National Speleological Society and the Blue Grass Grotto of Lexington in 1967. His primary cave areas of research interest have been southeastern Kentucky, the Inner Bluegrass Karst Region, and Carter Caves State Park. He received a PhD in Geography from the University of Kentucky in 2003 and was employed as a Professor of Geography at Morehead State University in Kentucky from 2001 until his retirement in 2024. Gary has an extensive publication record with his primary research interests including caves and karst, of course, but also historical archaeology, environmental issues, regional history, and Appalachian studies. In addition to the ACCA, he is also a board member of the Rockcastle Karst Conservancy and Vice President of the Kentucky Old Mill Association. In recognition of his scholarship, in 2014 he was appointed by governor Steven Beshear as the State Geographer of Kentucky. He currently resides at Morehead with his wife of thirty years, Carol.

Gary was honored to be invited to become a member of the board of the American Cave Conservation Association because he has always been impressed with the work that Dave has been doing for the Association and the importance of an institution dedicated to improving public awareness of issues concerning the significance and vulnerability of caves.

In regard to this he believes that the ACCA has two very important missions:

“The first is simply institutional survival. Unless the ACCA is economically viable and can continue to exist, it cannot achieve any other goals, no matter how worthy they may be. Toward this end, myself and other board members, along with Dave, must continue to be creative and open to ideas that can help assure the continued financial welfare of the organization, as long as such activities are consistent with the raison d’etre of the ACCA. This latter must, in my opinion, always be public education. As an organization, we can acquire property in order to protect specific caves, but a far greater impact can be made through heightening public awareness of the importance of caves, cave life, groundwater quality, and other related issues.”

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.

Gary O’Dell, Director