Posted by Maegan Wilson on 2007-07-13

Remodeling and construction will continue at the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center throughout the summer. The center, a collaborative project supported by Samford University, the state of Alabama, Shelby County and other sources, will open in time for fall semester classes.

Phase one of construction, which includes a meeting room, laboratory and outdoor classroom, was completed in June by the state. "The next step is to furnish the rooms with chairs and lab tables using half of the $150,000 grant from Shelby County," center director David Frings said. This grant will also provide for the construction of a living museum and lab equipment during July and August.

Samford biology professors and Frings are now busy seining creeks and cataloging animals and wild flowers that thrive at the park. They are collecting data month by month as a learning tool for students of all ages, including K-12 students, who will have class at the center.

Phase two of the state's construction is currently underway. Exhibits are being built by Southern Customs Exhibits, which also created the Vulcan exhibit and the Native American exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art. The center's exhibits will open next spring.

In addition to state and county contributions, Vulcan Materials Foundation gave $10,000 to the center. Nearly $180,000 has been raised independently by Frings, but another $100,000 is still needed for exhibit construction and other projects.

Frings will speak at different events in the coming months to raise awareness and funds. "We need a support group and base of volunteers to work at the center and revenue for operation and maintenance needs such as capital projects and bills," Frings said.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.