Mark is known for his service to the sport of caving and conservation of cave preserves. He has served as the SCCi Kennamer Cave Preserve manager for six years. From maintaining the parking area to marking preserve boundaries, Mark’s service knows no season. Mark is a truly an ambassador for the Kennamer Cave Preserve working with caving groups to make the most of their trips. He is currently working with first responders to use Kennamer Cave for a mock cave rescue while ensuring the preserve is protected from any lasting damage. Also, Mark has led and attended cave cleanup projects over the years including Kennamer Cave, Devil’s Den and Cathedral Caverns.
The John Van Swearingen Stewardship Award was conceived by the Huntsville Grotto in honor of long-time member, conservationist, cave steward, and SCCi Director, JV, who passed away in 2001. It is presented annually at the TAG Fall Cave In. JV served for many years as the Fern Cave Access Coordinator, providing stewardship of the Fern Cave system and preserve for both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the SCCi.
The purpose of the award is to meaningfully recognize the stewardship efforts of an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization that has provided significant stewardship activities for one or more caves, cave preserves, or karst properties, personally conducted over an extended period of time. The award, sponsored by the Huntsville Grotto and the SCCi, is also intended to promote long-term cave conservation and stewardship activities, and to encourage and thank those individuals and organizations who perform them.