Oak Mountain State Park Interpretive Center Plans, Agreement Formalized at Samford
Posted by William Nunnelley on 2005-09-21
The Oak Mountain State Park Interpretive Center moved a step nearer reality Sept. 21 as the entities supporting the project gathered at Samford University to discuss plans and sign agreements to develop and support the center.
Samford, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Friends of Oak Mountain are collaborating in the effort to build the multipurpose education center.
"The center will have the state park as an outdoor classroom and will promote and sponsor educational programs for K-12 students, teacher workshops, college courses and research opportunities," said Samford Provost J. Bradley Creed. "It will offer public self-guided tours of nature trails, interactive exhibits and the wildlife rehabilitation center."
Alabama's largest state park, Oak Mountain has 9,000 acres of predominantly forested terrain.
Samford President Thomas E. Corts and Dr. Creed met with representatives of the other organizations to formalize the $1.5 million project. Also taking part were M. Barnett Lawley, commissioner, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Anne Miller, executive director, Alabama Wildlife Center; and Scott Stone, president, Friends of Oak Mountain.
Lawley pointed out the center would be the first such facility in Alabama, and added that Samford's involvement would add greatly to the center because it "brings those educational aspects that we don't have."
An architectural rendering of the center was on display.
Plans call for the center to provide hands-on interactive educational experiences enabling children and adults to learn about Alabama's biodiversity. It will also offer student and teacher research opportunities, and help all visitors understand the importance of environmental stewardship.
The interactive center will include exhibits depicting Alabama's natural resources, wet lab for teaching and research, classroom/conference room for academic and workshop use and an external bridge linking the interpretive center and the existing wildlife rehabilitation center.
Plans call for hiring an interpretive center director as well as renovation of some existing facilities to house the center. Subjects to be taught include ornithology, botany, herpetology, biology, mammalogy, astronomy and other branches of natural science.
ABOUT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY -- Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 3rd among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,509 students from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.