Apply to be an Eagle Scout speleologist

The National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) has a rich history of placing worthy Eagles on expeditions. These unique experiences provide an entry into the world of exploration.
Exploring Underground

Opportunity description

Through the BSA’s STEM Initiative, NESA has selected Eagle Scouts to participate in field research in the Mammoth Cave in the past. The program has been highly successful and will be offered again this year. This is a spectacular opportunity to experience different geological disciplines!

A speleologist is a person who explores, maps, and studies caves. Under the guidance of world-renowned speleologist and former Director of NESA Bill Steele together with his world class colleagues in the Cave Research Foundation, Eagles will explore, map, and collect data in Mammoth Cave National Park.

The selected Eagles will fly to Nashville, Tennessee and spend approximately 10 days in the field, based at the Hamilton Valley Research Center, owned and operated by the Cave Research Foundation.

The Eagle Scout Speleologists will be outfitted with cave exploration gear and accompany experienced speleologists deep into the interior of the 400-mile long Mammoth Cave system where they will venture miles beyond the tourist trails. They will meet and learn from caving experts and cave scientists, and assist in exploring, mapping, and data collecting in speleological disciplines such as cartography, biology, geology, and hydrology.

Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system and a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. This is the world’s longest known cave system with vast chambers and complex labyrinths that have provided its name – Mammoth.Native Americans of the Early Woodland period gathered minerals from Mammoth Cave between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago. Objects they left behind include slippers, cane torches, gourds, and mussel shells which remain perfectly preserved in the cave.Mammoth Cave is one of the oldest tourist attractions in North America where tours have been offered since 1816.

NESA Speleologist Group photo
Mammoth Cave’s formations include many types of calcite formations with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites and contain fauna not found in ordinary environments. Creatures that spend their entire lives in Mammoth Cave adapt to the dark world. Some types of cave fish, for example, do not grow unnecessary eyes to preserve precious energy in their nutrient-poor environment.


To qualify as a Eagle Scout Speleologist, candidates must:
  • Be an Eagle Scout
  • Be 18 years of age and not older than 27 years of age by June 1
  • Must be in good physical condition
  • Major or intend to major in a biological science in college or graduate school
  • Be prepared to blog, speak, write, and be interviewed on behalf of Scouting to report on the trip, what it means personally, and how Scouting prepared you for the experience
  • Have medical insurance and complete a BSA Medical form

How to apply

Eagle Scouts who are qualified and would like to be considered for this wonderful opportunity must complete an online application, which includes a 250-word essay. Finalists will be announced by then end of January and required to submit a 3 minute YouTube video expressing reasons to support their selection.

Applications must be submitted, no later than Midnight Central Standard Time, October 31. The persons selected to be the Eagle Scout Biologist will be notified by February 28.

Important notes

The Eagle will be responsible for $600 to defray some costs of the experience (not including flight costs for Eagle Scouts who live outside the United States) payable to the National Eagle Scout Association by May 31.

Logistics and payment for airfare, lodging, food (in some cases the Eagle will need to purchase on-site and be reimbursed), tuition, etc. will be paid for and coordinated by the National Eagle Scout Association. Flights for Eagle
Scouts who live or are coming from outside of the United States will have to pay the difference from a domestic flight cost from their home.

Dates for this approximately 10-day trip will be between late June and July.