Waynesville has been chosen as the host of the 2015 (NSS) National Speleological Society annual convention. The event is held in alternating states and regions of the United States each year. Established in 1941, the non-profit organization is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has nearly 250 chapters called “grottos” across the country.
The NSS is the largest organization in the world dedicated to exploration, preservation, education and conservation of caves. The Society’s over 10,000 members include scientists, cartographers, explorers and cave enthusiasts from the United States and all over the globe. The NSS organization is sectioned in 15 specialty interest areas of the membership to include geology, archeology, technical research and rescue, underwater cave diving and many artistic disciplines.
The Pulaski County Tourism Bureau has teamed up with the Mississippi Valley Ozark Region as well as the NSS to work to bring this convention to central Missouri. Missouri previously hosted this conference in 1997.
Convention chairpersons, co-chairs and organization representatives recently met in Pulaski County to explore the resources available in the communities, tour the convention facility of Waynesville High School and view the campgrounds at the Pulaski County Ft. Leonard Wood Shrine Club. While all considerations have not been locked down, event organizers are confident that Pulaski County has all the facilities and resources to host a successful convention.
“We are particularly impressed with the tourism bureau’s enthusiasm, the friendly nature of the school district, community and local government” said Kris Nicolussi, co-chair of the 2015 NSS Convention. “We are very pleased to announce Waynesville, MO as our host. The central location, the facilities, wonderful caving opportunities and the can-do attitude we have found is a win-win for all. Our past relationship with the Shrine Club has always been positive, on a smaller regional meeting scale, but with the Tourism Bureau’s encouragement, we knew this location for a National Convention would be a perfect fit for us.” Attendance is projected to range between 1200-1500 participants.
During the site visit by the convention planners, they were excited to learn of the opportunities offered by the Tourism Bureau. “We are thrilled to partner with the NSS for the 2015 Convention. We believe that Pulaski County USA will be a destination like no other they have been to. The marketing team includes me, Beth Wiles and Laura Huffman and we are committed to be fully involved in assisting the planners with resources to put this convention together.” said Karen Hood, Marketing Relations Manager of the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.
Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman added "The City of Waynesville is very excited to welcome the cavers to our community. We are thrilled to be showing off our part of the world"
Over the next 20 months, the convention’s planning team will make additional visits to Pulaski County as programs and sessions are defined. As the event draws closer, the plans and details will be shared with the community to learn more. Conventions are open to all cave enthusiasts of the NSS and planners are actively recruiting potential members to educate and inspire and are looking at ways to share that information with Pulaski Countians in 2015.