John H. Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award

Created in 2011, the John H. Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award is awarded annually to a student at a NC Campus Compact member institution who, like Mr. Barnhill, demonstrates innovation in civic engagement, creating foundations that expand partnerships amongst communities, campuses, and individuals.

Congratulations to the 
2014 Barnhill Civic Trailblazer
Aaron Marshall, Western Carolina University

The award was presented to Aaron at the CSNAP student conference at NC State University on November 8th. Read about him on our blog. Aaron was also featured in WCU's campus magazine in a Spring 2014 article "The Marshall Plan."

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.

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



  • Current student at an NC Campus Compact member institutions in their final year
  • Can be current nominees  or former winners of the Community Impact Student Award
  • Only one nominee from each member campus per year
  • Both nominators and nominees must be in attendance during the Student Conference to receive the award
  • Campuses are encouraged to have a special awards presentation on their campus

Award Timeline

  • August: Call for Nominations
  • First week in October:  Nominations due
  • Three weeks before Student Conference - Winner announced/picture is due electronically to NC Campus Compact state office

For more information contact Leslie Garvin.