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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Evan Barnard

Evan Barnard

Georgia

Evan Barnard, 17, of Johns Creek, Ga., a junior at Johns Creek High School, volunteered to repair a vandalized nature trail that featured Braille signs and guide ropes for the blind, and then set out to build more "Braille trails" so that many more visually impaired people can enjoy the great outdoors. Evan was looking for a way to get involved in nature conservation when he heard that someone had stolen all of the Braille signs along a specially designed forest hiking trail and caused other damage. He installed new signage and cleaned up the trail, and then, after the trail was vandalized a second time, he replaced the trail's guide ropes and again repaired the pathway.

When he was done, Evan led a hike on the trail for 25 members of the Georgia Council of the Blind, and began speaking at council chapter meetings about Braille trails and the importance of making nature accessible to the visually impaired. After his work was highlighted in a radio show and international Braille blog, Evan was contacted by people all over the country who wanted Braille trails in their communities. That's when he decided to start building new trails. For his first, he found a location at an environmental center, and recruited both young people and adults to create a pathway and install Braille signs, guideposts and ropes. He then used a service award grant to begin hosting educational programs on the new trail. Evan is now working to reconfigure existing nature trails in other locations to make them accessible to the visually impaired and people with other disabilities.