PHIL CAMPBELL, ALA. — Yesterday afternoon (4/26) Northwest Shoals Community College (NWSCC) hosted a ribbon cutting and grand re-opening of the revitalized Cecil Clapp Nature Trail and outdoor classroom on the Phil Campbell Campus.
The event also commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the F-5 tornado that devastated Hackleburg and Phil Campbell. “The nature trail and outdoor classroom suffered significant damage from the 2011 F-5 tornado that devastated parts of Phil Campbell and Hackleburg,” said NWSCC President Dr. Glenda Colagross. “We are so glad that, with the help of our community partners, we were able to revitalize this unique part of our campus.”
Alabama State Representative, Jamie Kiel, opened the program by commending the College on the completion of the revitalized nature trail and outdoor classroom. He added that he wished it existed when he was a student at NWSCC.
NWSCC received funds $10,000 from the Northwest Alabama RC&D Council and $5,000 from the Alabama Power Foundation to help the College restore the nature trail and outdoor classroom on the Phil Campbell campus.
The Cecil Clapp Nature Trail was established in 1974 and named after former NWSCC, then Northwest Alabama State Junior College, forestry instructor, Cecil Clapp. The trail is approximately a quarter of a mile long and features rock bluffs and native Alabama plants. A swinging bridge hangs over the branch at the bottom of the trail near the outdoor classroom.
Monday afternoon the outdoor classroom was officially named in memory of former NWSCC science instructor, Joe Mark Alls.
Joe Mark Alls was hired at Northwest Shoals Community College in 1993 as a full-time biology instructor. According to NWSCC Associate Dean of Academic Programs Dr. Timmy James, he loved seeing his students be successful. “He served as an advisor for nursing students and took great pride in their success,” said James. “Students throughout his time at the College have remarked about how he impacted their lives and was a deciding factor in their career choice.”
Alls was instrumental in the design and construction of the outdoor classroom/amphitheater located on the nature trail. “Upon its completion in approximately 2004, he was known for having his classes meet at the amphitheater for the lecture portion of his courses,” stated James. Alls retired from the College in May of 2018, but he continued to teach part-time until his death in 2019.
Now that the trail and amphitheater/outdoor classroom have been restored, NWSCC looks forward to providing it as a free resource to area elementary, middle, high schools, and the community. “We have an amazing community, and this is just another way that we would like to be able to provide an educational resource for them to enjoy,” stated Colagross.
The event included a ribbon cutting with the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, performance from the NWSCC Jazz Band, and brief remarks from NWSCC President, Dr. Glenda Colagross; Alabama State Representative, Jamie Kiel; Northwest Alabama RC&D Council Executive Director, Lauranne James; and Alabama Power Community Relations Manager, Melinda Weaver.