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Girl Scout from Cumming earns Gold Award

Highest honor in organization

POSTED: March 8, 2014 3:30 p.m.


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CUMMING -- Girl Scouts are out in full force at this time of year selling those yummy cookies.

While cookie sales are closely tied to the national organization, and are what many think of when scouting comes up, Girl Scouts are busy year round with educational and fun activities.

Some local Forsyth County girls have also recently received high levels of acclaim through the organization.

Mary Elizabeth Burke, who lives in Cumming but attends Wesleyan High School in Peachtree Corners, recently completed the requirements to receive the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Comparable to the rank of Eagle in Boy Scouting, the Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting and is achieved by less than five percent of all participants.

To earn the ranking, girls must complete be in high school and complete a lengthy community service project that demonstrates leadership skills.

For her Gold Award, which she will officially receive today at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Burke completed a project called “Remembering Autrey Mill.”

The project involved more than 90 hours of planning, coordinating and completing a refurbishment and restoration of 12 informational kiosks at the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve in Johns Creek.

She also created an educational module on cotton and trained personnel at the center to administer the program.

A Girl Scout for more than 11 years, Burke is an ambassador in Troop 24326.  She has participated in Girl Scout Camp CEO, a mentoring program in which high school girls spend a weekend with Atlanta’s top female executives.

Burke has also served as a committee member on the Destinations Scholarship Committee, which awards scholarships to area Girl Scouts who qualify for an abroad program.

Besides Girl Scouts, Burke is also a member of the National Charity League and has completed more than 450 hours of community service.

In 2011, she received the U.S. Congressional Award for Youth as a result of demonstrated merit in the areas of community service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition.

That same year, she also received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for Youth’s gold medal, given by President Barack Obama for community service.

In addition, Burke serves on the National Teen Advisory Board for Girl Talk, is a member of Youth Leadership Forsyth, and has worked as a legal intern for the Atlanta Bar Association. She hopes to pursue a law degree at Georgetown University and specialize in child advocacy.  


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