Grad’s Signage Design Chosen for Wood Duck Nature Preserve

During the fall 2019 semester, Associate Professor Robert Finkel’s fourth-year graphic design students worked on a project for an identity and signage system upgrade at the Wood Duck Nature Preserve (WDNP). The preserve is a 73-acre park full of wetlands, swamps and forests owned by the city of Opelika. Home to several miles of trails and more than 170 species of birds, the park is a popular destination for bird watchers and hikers. After viewing all of Finkel’s students’ presentations, the WDNP Board of Directors recently selected the design work of Emily Musselman, who graduated from Auburn’s School of Graphic + Industrial Design (SIGD) this past December.

To begin their work, students visited the preserve with WDNP Board Members Gene Hunter and Barry Fleming. They asked questions about the wildlife, usage and history of the preserve in order to develop ideas for the project. “Gene and I took the class around the trails and that experience helped to created more personal responses from the students,” said Fleming, Professor Emeritus of Art & Art History at Auburn. “During the final critique, one student was asked why she chose metal for the signage. She replied, ‘Because of that woodpecker problem y’all have.’ True, and Bam!”

As part of the assignment, the students were asked to create a new logo and present detailed information about their proposals, including types of signage, sizing, materials and placement. The project concluded with a presentation to Hunter and Fleming. This spring, the WDNP Board selected Musselman’s designs and decided to move forward with fundraising for the project through Opelika Giving Day. Fleming said that while all the students’ designs were impressive, Musselman’s work stood out. “It was the comprehensiveness of her design. Her master site map was exceptional and the logo was very strong,” he stated.

Fleming is excited for visitors to experience the preserve with the new signage. “The master site map will give the visitors a great orientation before they enter the trail system. And interpretive signs can slow people down to take them deeper into natural or cultural history, making the experience of connections more powerful.”

Related people:
Robert Finkel