John H. Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award

Created in 2011, the John H. Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award is awarded annually to ONE student from the NC Campus Compact network who demonstrates innovation in civic engagement, creating a foundation that expands partnerships amongst communities, campuses, and individuals. The award is named in honor of John Barnhill, founding executive director of NC Campus Compact.

The Trailblazer Award winner must demonstrate:

• Creativity and innovation to start or deepen campus efforts to address community issues
• Long-term leadership that inspires others to engage
• Effort to integrate their work into campus structures in a sustainable way
• Evidence of tangible and meaningful impact on campus or community
• Commitment to life-long service


  • Nominee must be an undergraduate student in his/her final year at a member campus
  • Can be current nominees or former winners of the Community Impact Student Award
  • Each member campus may submit only one nominee
  • Both nominators and nominees must attend the CSNAP student conference
  • Campuses are encouraged to have a special awards presentation on their campus


  • Faculty or Staff contact completes online nomination form.
  • Nominator submits letter(s) of support on office letterhead to
  • Nominator submits print-quality headshot image (300 dpi or larger) of student as .jpeg or .png file to

Submission deadline: Oct. 1

NOTE: Nominators may tell student that he/she has been nominated for this award. NC Campus Compact will inform all nominators of the Barnhill winner by Oct. 15.

Past Trailblazers

2017 Recipient
Brian Wuertz
Warren Wilson College


2016 Recipient
Jenny Fukunaga
Elon University


2015 Recipient
Kate Gatterdam
Queens University of Charlotte


2014 Recipient
Aaron Marshall
Western Carolina University


2013 Recipient
Amanda Moore
Appalachian State University



2012 Recipient
Rachel Stanley
Elon University


2011 Recipient
Morgan Abbott
UNC-Chapel Hill


2011 Recipient
Sam Williams
Appalachian State University


John Barnhill entered college with a passion for serving and a commitment to searching out and developing leaders.  Devoting almost 30 hours a week in direct service while a student at Elon University, in 1989 he co-founded the campus’s Habitat for Humanity Chapter. Seeing the potential in each person, as well as the real needs in the community, John founded Elon Volunteers! (EV!) in 1990.  EV! recruits and equips students to organize, plan, coordinate, and recruit fellow Elon students for local, national and international service.  Today, over 20 years later, this program continues with over 100 EV! volunteers mobilizing students to volunteer over 100,000 hours annually.

John’s continued his commitment to utilizing civic engagement to develop students as campus and community leaders, and to address real needs upon graduating.  He became Elon University’s first paid staff to coordinate volunteer service on campus, helping form the Office of Volunteer Programs.  Under his leadership, the Office became the endowed, nationally recognized Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement.  The Center facilitates partnerships with local and international communities, and advances student learning, leadership, citizenship, and volunteerism preparing them for lives of active community engagement. As one administrator shared, “John created the student leadership model for Elon, focusing students’ passions for service in productive ways to address community needs.”

In 1993 John broadened his vision, helping form North Carolina Campus Volunteers (NCCV), a statewide coalition of students and staff who unified volunteerism across the state.  Through John’s guidance, NCCV created and hosted the first Student Conference 19 years ago.  NCCV merged with NC Campus Compact when it formed in 2002, and the Compact has continued to host the yearly conferences.  In 2002, John was selected serve as the founding Executive Director of North Carolina Campus Compact.  During his four years in this role, he was able to help other campuses build their infrastructures to produce civically-engaged graduates and strengthen communities.

John is recognized not only for his personal service and leadership, but also as someone who built student confidence, engagement, leadership and impact.  He reflects a genuine heart for students, helping them see their untapped potential and catch his passion for serving others.  For these tireless efforts of Mr. Barnhill, NC Campus Compact is pleased to share the John H. Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award with students reflecting the same commitments and impact.