Pay it Forward: Volunteer honored by Indiana State Parks

Anderson, Ind. -- All week long, we're highlighting Hoosiers who pay it forward in our community. Today, we meet a man who gives back by volunteering his time and talent at our state parks.

The Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks is honoring Jerry Byard as a Volunteer of the Year. Byard volunteered more 250 hours as a photographer for local parks last year alone, bringing his expertise in the graphic arts field and a passion for nature.

You can usually find Byard wearing his DNR hat with his camera in hand.

"I enjoy camping, hiking and all the Indiana state parks," Byard said.

"I'm not a hunter or a fishermen, but I hunt with my camera, that’s what I enjoy doing," Byard said.

The hunt for the perfect photo isn’t always easy, but the 78-year-old volunteer never shies away from the perfect angle or or opportunity. 

"I enjoy seeing the pictures up very close, so I’ll get right on the ground," Byard said while snapping a photo.

His passion for capturing the beauty outside brought him here, to volunteer at Mounds State park, and his commitment over the years brought him the DNR award, honoring his service.

"I retired from the newspaper and I decided I needed to do some volunteering. I’ve been here since 2006 and some folks think I live out here!" Byard said.

Hundreds of hours spent volunteering, with a list duties like cleaning up the trails or helping with workshops. As for Byards photos, it's not just fun to look at -- it helps the park promote.

"With Jerry’s photography we get to use that for marketing on Facebook and online," said Conner Mellencamp, Seasonal Interpretive Naturalist at Mounds State Park.

No matter what the job may be, Byard is up for the task, and he’s not planning on stopping any time soon.

"I'll just keep doing what I've been doing, as far as I can tell. That’s just what I like to do!" Byard said.

For more information on ways to volunteer at state parks, click here.