The Great Southeast Pollinator Census, which will be held Aug. 18 and 19 this year, received a commendation from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in advance of the annual event’s fifth anniversary. The governor honored the contributions of the citizen-science project to the continued health of pollinators in the region.
“A University of Georgia Cooperative Extension project, the Census has expanded from the original 2019 Great Georgia Pollinator Census to including South Carolina in 2022, and now North Carolina for the fifth annual event, with future expansions into Florida and Tennessee also being planned,” the commendation reads. “The census does important work to support the nearly $488 million worth of pollination in Georgia by bringing recognition to the important role of pollinators and education on practices to preserve these insects and their habitats.”
Since its first year, the number of participants in the count has steadily grown, from 4,698 participants counting 131,844 insects in Georgia in 2019 to 8,671 participants counting 139,502 insects throughout Georgia and in several South Carolina counties.
“I was truly honored to receive the commendation and appreciate Gov. Kemp's support of the pollinator census. The commendation is really for all the census participants who sweat in their gardens counting insects in August,” said Becky Griffin, UGA Extension community and school garden coordinator and creator of the census.
Griffin also announced that Don Hunter, a hydrogeologist and environmental scientist who is retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has been chosen as the Grand Marshal for the 2023 count.
Hunter, “a tireless advocate for pollinators and the pollinator census,” according to Griffin, has participated in the census since its inception and is a regular contributor of photography to the project’s Facebook page.
He is an active member of the Nature Ramblers group at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and a contributor to the group’s blog. Having no flower gardens to speak of at his house, Hunter has conducted most of his counts on roadside and utility rights-of-way near his home close to Athens, Griffin shared.
“Don Hunter is the perfect person to represent the pollinator census as this year's Grand Marshal. He works tirelessly to educate others on the importance of pollinators, and he constantly advocates for the importance of the census,” Griffin added. “Don does multiple counts each year and he is famous for encouraging others to participate.”
Local events are being planned around the state to coincide with the count this year, Griffin said.
The following are a few examples of census events:
- Food Well Alliance in Atlanta has a listing of events in five locations coordinated with the census where the public can drop in to participate.
- Cherokee County Master Gardeners are offering a pollinator identification class during the Great Southeast Pollinator Census on Aug. 19 at the Senior Services Center in Canton.
- Perimeter College at Georgia State University is hosting a counting event on Aug. 19 at their native plant botanical garden.