Head Shot Photo:
Jim Grillot



Kansas City Star Article on Tara Bollinger

On the evening of October 19, 2002, the audience at Black River Coliseum, in the city of Poplar Bluff welcomed Miss West County USA, Tara Bollinger.  Tara is a 23 year old Summa Cum Laude graduate of Lindenwood University where she earned a degree in Mass Communications/ TV Broadcasting and Spanish. Tara's academic accomplishments include four years on the Dean's List, a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Fraternity, receiving the All-American Collegiate Award and scholarships from the MO Press Club and Journalism Foundation. She is also an alumni of the Chi Omega sorority.  She continues her education by studying abroad and spent time in the spring of 2002 attending language school in Costa Rica.

 Tara has spent the last year working as a motivational speaker for middle and high school students. Her enthusiastic message about goal setting and positive choices have captivated over 35,000 students in the US and Australia. She tackles issues such as alcohol, drugs and sexual health in a way that makes students think before making a decision. 

 In addition to working with young people, Tara actively promotes the Project Reality education curriculum "AC Green's Game Plan" by training teachers.  She also works for additional education funding on the state and national level. Tara had the opportunity to meet with every legislative office from Missouri, except one and the Senate finance committee offices to promote increasing of Title V education funding.

 Tara met with doctors from the Center for Disease Control and numerous health department officials to better understand the rising number of sexually transmitted disease cases. She has used this knowledge to co-author a book - The Best of Teen Success. Tara was also a featured speaker at the 2001 International Abstinence Conference in Miami attended by over 700 educators from 48 states and 16 countries.

 She has completed over 6000 hours of Community Service, including missions trips to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic and Jamaica. Tara worked with such organizations as Habitat for Humanity, Feed the Children, Samaritan's Purse, Touch Australia and Splash Inner-City Children's Ministry. She helped implement Rage Against Destruction - a nationally touring high school anti-violence assembly program that has reached over 100,000 young people.

Tara is the daughter of Mark and Renee Bollinger. She has one sister, a black Labrador retriever named Zoe. In her own words she says this about her family, "My entire family, not just my parents, have been my biggest fans and supporters. They have come faithfully to so many events over the years and I am truly blessed to have had such encouragement.  One of the greatest gifts in my life is my family and I do not think I would be the young women I am without them."

When asked to choose three words that best describe her, Tara chose: character, passionate and giving. Tara said her favorite quote is, "All things are possible to him (or her) who believes." Her philosophy on life is, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. I believe if you go through life without developing respect for yourself, your goals or your body, you will give into any kind of pressure or negative choice.  The way to be empowered, especially as young women, is to first realize that we are valuable and worth respecting.  That kind of attitude develops strength of character and courage which allows you to pursue an incredible future, even in the face of peer pressure or fear of failure."

Tara plans to spend her year as Miss Missouri USA empowering young people to make positive choices through speaking at school assemblies, community organizations and youth groups. She will also work with the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to promote Breast Cancer Awareness. 



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