One summer at the county fair, Eric Miller was offered five free chicks on one condition – he bring them back to the fair the following summer and exhibit them in the open-class competition.
Instantaneously, he was hooked on poultry.
“I really enjoyed working with them,” he said. “Collecting eggs and washing, sizing and selling them stimulated my interest in poultry and was a major step in getting me to overcome my natural shyness by forcing me to talk to people to get them to buy my product.”
Miller turned that initial spark years ago into a successful poultry business. He markets and sells broilers and show chickens in his Lyons, Neb., community and has added new revenue streams including corn and soybean sales and a lawn-mowing operation.
“As my modest business models have grown, I’ve had to interact with customers, provide quality service, accurately maintain financial and performance records and more to meet customer needs,” he said.
Miller is a 2013 finalist for an American Star Farmer award from the National FFA Organization.
Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with an American Star award for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education. The award is the most prestigious honor awarded to a student by the National FFA Organization.
The American Star awards – including the American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience – are awarded to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of a supervised agricultural experience. A required activity in FFA, a supervised agriculture experience allows students to learn by doing by either owning and operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.
Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.
Sixteen American Star award finalists from throughout the U.S. are nominated for a panel of judges to interview during convention. Four are named winners and receive cash awards totaling $4,000. All American Star finalists receive a $2,000 cash award. The Stars Over America are sponsored by Alltech, Inc.; CASE IH; Elanco, Farm Credit, DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
Miller, 21, is a member of the Lyons-Decatur Northeast High School FFA chapter in Lyons, Neb., led by advisor Kevin Anderson. He is currently majoring in agribusiness at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
He is the son of Sarah and Roy Miller.
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About National FFA Organization
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 557,318 student members as part of 7,498 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at www.FFA.org, on Facebook, Twitter and the official National FFA Organization blog.