National society recognizes Scranton caver for her love of caves – Osage County Online | Osage County News

National society recognizes Scranton caver for her love of caves


Jan Williams, with her favorite cave dog Boomer, relaxes in a Kansas cave.

SCRANTON, Kan. – The largest U.S. caving organization has recognized longtime Kansas caver and rural Scranton, Kan., resident Jan Williams for her years of dedication to the study, exploration and conservation of caves.

The National Speleological Society designated Williams as a fellow of the society during the organization’s annual convention awards banquet, held July 22, 2016, in Ely, Nev.

NSS fellows are those members who over a number of years have exemplified by their actions their dedication to the goals of the society or the society itself. Williams, who has been a member of the NSS since 1985, was nominated for the award by her peers who were members of the NSS and the Kansas Speleological Society, an internal organization of the NSS.

Nominators noted Williams’ continued exploration and search for cave resources in Kansas, and her role as a protector of not only Kansas caves, but also caves in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri, where she has participated in numerous cave cleanups. As part of identifying cave resources, Williams also participated in numerous cave surveys, including serving as an instrument reader on U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey of the now miles-long Duncan Field Cave, in Oklahoma. In exploration of Kansas caves, she has negotiated and surveyed some of the most grueling cave passages in the state, and has been involved in many of the important discoveries of the last three decades.

Williams was also recognized for her work to educate others about cave conservation and safety, including giving presentations to Boy Scouts, youth groups, and outdoors groups, always recommending anyone interested in caves should join the NSS to learn more about caves.

Nominators also pointed out Williams’ continued dedication to Kansas’ only statewide NSS grotto, the Kansas Speleological Society, which celebrated its 30th year in 2014. Williams has held every office in the grotto over the years, served as archivist of the grotto’s historical information and materials, and provided ongoing administrative support to fulfill requirements to maintain KSS as an internal organization of the NSS.

Williams is the first KSS member to be designated as an NSS fellow. She lives in rural Scranton with her husband, Wayne White, and she is employed at the Kansas State Department of Education, in Topeka.

Williams was presented the award along with a dozen other new fellows during the NSS annual convention, which this year celebrated the national caving organization’s 75th anniversary. About 1,087 cavers from across the U.S. gathered for the week long convention held July 17-23, 2016, at Ely, Nev., where many camped on the town’s golf course that was converted to a campground especially for the event. Cavers gathered daily throughout the week at White Pines High School, where papers and sessions were presented, along with vertical climbing contests and other caving related workshops. The swarm of cavers also visited numerous nearby caves and interesting geologic features, and local tourist destinations.

The goals of the NSS, which has more than 10,000 members worldwide, include furthering the exploration, study, and protection of caves and their environments, and fostering fellowship among cavers. For more information, see

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