A rising ninth grader at Westwood School in Camilla, Georgia, Burnett will open the fourth annual census on Aug. 19 with a social media announcement inviting Georgians and South Carolinians to begin counting pollinators.
This year marks the first time a grand marshal has been named as part of the Great Georgia Pollinator Census project and is designed to recognize participants who are passionate about the census.
Criteria for the honor include a demonstrated passion for pollinators and active participation in pollinator conservation efforts in their communities, as well as enthusiastic recruitment of people to participate in the annual count.
“Although it was difficult to choose only one grand marshal, Mia was an obvious choice for this first year,” said Becky Griffin, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension community and school garden coordinator and creator of the census.
Burnett has been an active member of the Mitchell County 4-H program, serving in several leadership roles, including vice president of the 2021-22 Southwest District 4-H Board of Directors.
After attending 4-H Pollinator Ambassador training earlier this summer, Burnett created a presentation on pollinators for a five-county 4-H STEM camp. She then developed a presentation on flower facts that she shared on the Mitchell County 4-H Facebook page through daily uploads during National Pollinator Week, which was recognized June 22-26.
Burnett also recorded and shared a video reading a children’s book about metamorphosis. After visiting the beehives at Rock Eagle 4-H Center while attending State 4-H Council, she wrote an article published in her local newspaper about her experience as a pollinator ambassador.
In her community, Burnett painted a mural, displayed on the Flint River Arts Council building in Camilla, encouraging the citizens of Mitchell County to save the bees. She also planted pollinator gardens that are registered with the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail, placed colored lights in a local park in honor of National Pollinator Week, and set up signs with bee conservation tips in a local park.
“The sheer dedication and determination Mia has as a 4-H pollinator ambassador is just amazing,” Griffin said.
“Working with Mia as her 4-H leader has been truly a blessing because she works through and gets the job done no matter what she has going on — plus her parents are very supportive,” added Debra Cox, Mitchell County 4-H leader. “If the work Mia has done and continues to do with pollinators is any sign of what her future will be, then she will have a bright and successful path.”
This year’s pollinator census is Aug. 19 and 20. More information can be found on the project website, ggapc.org.
–Maria M. Lameiras, University of Georgia