Eric Miller, born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, now calls Detroit, Michigan home after a myriad of bi-coastal career moves with his current employer, Chrysler. Eric’s educational background is in Mechanical Engineering and Human Resource Management.
Eric’s decision to start his nonprofit, the Lawn Academy was inspired by his wanting youth to plant roses, so they could experience what it felt like to do something nice for others. He also wanted seniors in the community to know that there are several youth who have a kind heart and want to do something positive. Eric states that this interaction between the youth and seniors continues to grow and there is a mutual respect and admiration demonstrated through smiles and conversations. Eric’s original TPP grant was for the “Rose Planting for Seniors – Honor” where the seniors had community youth plant rose bushes for them. This program commemorates the memory of Eric’s grandmother, Rosie Henderson.
Some of the most impactful experiences Eric had as a youth included his experience mowing lawns and taking care of the lawns for several elderly residents in his community, including his grandmother. He loved lawn service so much that he would forego attending summer sports program that his peers were attending. He was able to attend an Early Identification Program (similar to STEM) when he was in high school. The program allowed youth to attend a college immersion programs and refresher courses to ease the transition into college courses. He remembers the program was run by Happy Jones, who had a personality just like her name. That was a huge influence on him, as that’s when he truly felt the impact of having people outside of his family believing that he could achieve a lot in life. He also enjoyed being around like-minded youth. That experience helped shape how his Lawn Academy program runs today.
Eric’s philosophy on having an impact on youth leaders and their development include:
- Creating a system that is led by youth, effective, repeatable, and sustainable.
- Creating a model that creates worth and revenues for self-funding purposes.
- The model would have measures to mitigate selfish, monetary gains and provide continual opportunities for youth growth and development.
If Eric could give advice to himself – the Eric of 10 years ago that was just getting started with this endeavor to make a difference in the community – he said he would remind himself that:
Growths is not always in numbers, it’s about the impact people’s lives. Also, that the program is bigger than himself. It’s like giving over your baby to the community to care for, but it’s important to develop in a way that you can. Lastly, we have to learn to appreciate and utilize other people’s talents, help them use their strengths for the greater good.