Erika J. Barger, who just turned eighteen, has volunteered hundreds of hours to serving her school, community, and country, and her efforts have made a significant difference in the lives of many. Each October she assists the local Elks organization with their annual Red Ribbon Week campaign to promote drug awareness among elementary, middle, and high school students. Over the past seven years, she has helped to count, sort, and deliver nearly 500,000 pieces of drug awareness material to seventeen area schools in the community. In addition to drug awareness, she also annually assists the local Elks lodge with the judging of their yearly Americanism essay contest for 5th-8th graders.
As a dual enrolled student at Daytona Beach Community College for the past three years, she is now qualified to receive an Associate of Arts degree. She strives to better educate her peers, with the knowledge she has gained. As a member of the National Honor Society, she has volunteered over fifty hours tutoring her fellow students in the areas of English, math, and science. In addition, Erika spends one and a half hours of each school day tutoring and mentoring students in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) classes struggling in various subject areas, some with severe learning disabilities. As a former student of Ormond Beach Middle School, she has returned each year as a volunteer to assist with their WEB (Welcome Every Body) orientation for incoming 6th graders.
In addition to serving her peers and community, she serves our country by participating in all aspects of the election process, from sign waving and phone banking, to canvassing hundreds of homes. She realizes the importance of each vote in an election and works diligently performing whatever tasks the Executive Committee officers request of her. She has enjoyed participating in these activities so much that she founded her own countywide Teen Age Republican organization, participating in several functions, mainly those serving the community in various ways. Due to her enthusiasm and commitment, she was elected as the State Chairman of the Florida Federation of Teen Age Republicans last August and has created a personal goal of establishing at least one new Teen Age Republican club in each of Florida's 67 counties, a truly lofty goal. She has worked diligently toward this goal and will accomplish this by the end of her term in August.
Erika's Red Ribbon Week drug awareness activities impacted thousands of students of all ages, from pre-kindergarten to high school seniors, by informing them about the dangers of drug use and addiction. The knowledge that they receive from the brochures, coloring books, and bookmarks, on various addictive substances can keep them from making poor and destructive decisions in the future. Through the time devoted to tutoring students in all grade levels and ESE, Erika has instilled within them a greater sense of confidence and motivation. They no longer feel inferior to other students and have more focus and interest in learning. Some students would not have been permitted to play certain sports throughout the fall season, had it not been for Erika. She has helped many students keep up their grades so they can participate in their favorite forms of recreation and extracurricular activities.
Not only has Erika volunteered to assist numerous candidates and influence voters, but she has also dedicated countless hours to the establishment of several Teen Age Republican organizations statewide, while managing her own county organization as its President. After the destruction in Louisiana and Mississippi from Hurricane Katrina, her newly chartered county organization collected boxes of school supplies for the areas hardest hit and made certain that they were personally hand delivered to those schools that needed them most. Needless to say, the schools and students were grateful to receive them. More recently, she participated in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society's Basket Brigade, which collected and supplied needy families with baskets of food and other items for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The incoming middle school students at orientation are made more welcome, and given a better idea of what is expected of them while in middle school through Erika's efforts.