Founder — John Ackerman lives in the Farmington-Lakeville area and has been exploring caves since he can remember. He is credited with discovering over 50 caves in Southeastern Minnesota. John established the Minnesota Cave Preserve in 1989 to perpetually preserve, study, protect and to promote conscientious exploration and conservation of our unique underground wilderness. The preserve owns seven properties in Southeast Minnesota and Northern Iowa, which provides access to 36 miles of cave passages. The properties encompass 42 caves, 605 surface acres and 1,274 additional acres of subterranean rights. John is the founder of the MN Caving Club and together with club members, can be found most weekends in Fillmore County, searching for another amazing find.
Chairman/President — Martin Larsen lives in Kasson, MN. He is a fifth generation farmer, an environmental educator for Olmsted County and is studying hydro-geology at the University of Minnesota. Passionate about geology; Martin has facilitated numerous karst studies including groundwater dye tracing, spring monitoring and nitrate reduction studies. Other interests include GIS mapping, building scientific instruments and photography.
Vice President — Kirk Moorhead lives in Minneapolis and has a reputation as a superb cave explorer. With inherent curiosity, and a fair amount of climbing experience, he is often bolting and rigging pits to find more passage. As an avid cave diver, Kirk is the team’s sump diver. When not deep inside area caves, Kirk can be found rock-climbing various Upper Midwest cliffs, or diving in the spring systems beneath North Florida. Kirk is employed by a Twin Cities nonprofit organization as an affordable housing developer.
Safety Director — Emily Hudson lives in New Richmond, Wisconsin and is a third generation caver. Emily is attending college and pursuing her teachers license. She began caving at seven years old and is very proficient with single rope technique, negotiating tight squeezes and scaling large domes. Emily is the safety director for the club and has attended multiple NSS sanctioned rescue training events. She implements emergency response policy and facilitates safety training for the Minnesota Caving Club.
Secretary — Melissa Portz lives in Delano, Minnesota. She began caving as a teen, exploring the banks of the Mississippi. From there she would visit any commercial cave she came across and crawl into any hole she would find. In 2014 she organized a Boy Scout trip into Spring Valley Caverns, and one month later was immersed in weekly caving trips with the Minnesota Caving Club. Melissa regularly teaches others about caves, cave preservation and the history of Southeastern Minnesota. When not caving she will be hiking, geocaching and volunteering with the Boy Scouts. Melissa is a senior business analyst with Allina Health.