Justin Jennings Named CEO of Lost River Cave

Justin Jennings has taken on the role of Chief Executive Officer at Lost River Cave, succeeding retiring CEO Rho Lansden. Jennings becomes the organization’s 2nd ever CEO after previously serving as the Chief Operations Officer for Lost River Cave. With a wealth of knowledge and experience gained since 2008, he brings a deep passion for nature and the outdoors to the non-profit organization. This enthusiasm has been nurtured through camping, hiking and touring caves in the region.

Justin’s journey at Lost River Cave started in 2008 as a tour guide, and it deepened when he started leading programs for children during school field trips.

“I knew I had found a place where I could make an impact. I loved interpreting the science of our cave system, sharing the rich history of the property, and imbuing a sense of awe and wonder in tour guests that would hopefully spark a lifelong interest in nature.”

In 2011, he and his wife were married in the Cavern Nite Club, and they have watched their three children grow up at the Cave. Most recently, he served as head of park maintenance and operations prior to being selected as the COO. During his tenure, Jennings was responsible for expanding maintenance operations, enhancing cave tours, and spearheading the transition to new custom-built tour boats. Under his leadership, conservation initiatives were implemented within the park, ushering in the next phase of its transformation.

Rho Lansden has retired as CEO after an illustrious career leading the operation and transforming it from a fledgling nature and tourism site to one of the most active recreational sites in the region, boasting annual visitation of 200,000. She created a key educational entity for students from 36 school districts to experience nature-based curriculum first-hand and developed a renowned venue for weddings and events. Under her leadership, Lost River Cave has expanded valley and cave boat tours, enhanced a butterfly habitat, and laid the groundwork for the creation of a Nature Discovery Center for the region.

As for her time at the park, Lansden said:

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be at the helm of Lost River Cave. I’ve met and become friends with so many dedicated people who care deeply about the protection of this community treasure. Working side-by-side with the dedicated Board of Directors, our outstanding staff, countless volunteers, and gracious donors has helped to provide an amazing place that will be enjoyed for generations to come. My hope is that the community will always know that the security of this 72-acre park is in their hands and that they will forever be watchful stewards.”

A retirement celebration is scheduled for Wednesday, July 17th, 2024.