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Project Underground

A national educational program on caves and karst awareness

Karst - A land area that includes sinkholes, springs, sinking streams and caves. This landscape features underground streams and aquifers that supply the wells and springs communities use for drinking water.

Project Underground logoProject Underground is a source of interdisciplinary instructional activities, and its staff conducts workshops and in-service training programs. These materials and workshops are designed for classroom teachers and cavern, park, museum and nature center staff, and any youth-oriented group leaders.

The program - The purpose is to create and build awareness of and responsible attitudes toward karst and cave resources and their management needs. The project is an environmental education program designed to promote better understanding of caves and karstlands. It is a supplemental program for use by educators of kindergarten through high school age students. Participants in Project Underground activities will gain an understanding of how the underground environment is an important part of the total environment.

Click here to learn about DCR's Natural Heritage Karst Program.

SOL correlations - Click here for a list of associated state Standards of Learning.

Activity book - Project Underground activities are in the Natural Resource Education Guide. It was designed by educators and experts in the various disciplines of speleology. The activities are interdisciplinary and level-correlated. The guide is divided into subject areas with background information provided in each section. Example of activities:

  • Cave Critters describes animals found in a cave and special environments these creatures inhabit. Activities in this section have names like Bat Echoes and Troglo ... What?
  • Rocks and Water covers the geology and hydrology of caves and how these interact in karst areas. Activities in this section have names like Dripping Crystals and Lost River Village.
  • Use of Caves describes some the historical uses of caves to humans and animals. It also covers the study and exploration of caves. Activities in this section have names like Ancient Cave Art and Belly-Crawl Mapping.

Workshops - Project Underground materials are available through workshops held in cartoon of a batyour area. During these workshops, you will participate in hands-on activities, learn more about caves and karst ecology, and expand your knowledge and teaching skills. You will also meet and share ideas, information and resources with other professionals.

Facilitator training - Project Underground is based on the Training the Trainer model. Interested educators are trained to be certified workshops facilitators. You receive more in-depth information on caves and karst and the community issues surrounding them.

Click here to download the Crawl Through the Guide listing.

Click here to download the karst topo lesson map for use with the activity guide (560KB).

photo showing discarded tires in the woods photo showing the after abandoned tires have been removed
Before (l.) and after (r.) shots of a sinkhole in Lee County.

For more information on Project Underground or to host a workshop in your area, please contact:

Carol Zokaites
Karst Education Coordinator
8 Radford St. Suite 201
Christiansburg, VA 24073
email carol.zokaites@dcr.virginia.gov


Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
Richmond Area Speleological Society
Cave Conservancy of the Virginias
The National Speleological Society