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Building Life Skills & Love for Craftsmanship

Adrian Russell (left) with Eric Harris during a recent building camp.

Eric Harris is a Ferguson Indiana Project Manager with a strong desire to encourage area youth to develop a love of craftsmanship. Through industry networking, he learned about Russell’s Building Camp – a non-profit that provides youth with life-changing experiences and skills through hands-on learning opportunities. The program was started by Adrian Russell, who received his B.S. in Construction Management from Ball State University and currently serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion / Procurement at Shiel Sexton Company.

“When I was in college, I was the only one in my class to not know about construction basics.,” recalled Harris, “I didn’t know anything about Field Engineers, Project Engineers, Superintendents, Project Managers, Operations Directors or Estimators. I didn’t know how to use an architectural scale, but the rest of the class did, so I felt like I was behind – all of the time, in every class.”

Harris did not let his limited, early exposure to the construction industry hinder his success. “I would study all night long into the morning, get two hours of sleep, and then go pass my test. I literally did this with every one of my construction classes to graduate with good grades.”

Harris teaching painting skills during a recent camp.

This experience is the reason why he feels so compelled to give back. “If I can help the future generation learn what I didn’t know, then everyone can start at the same level and not feel left behind.”

During a recent camp, Russell encouraged the young men and women to make a plan for their life. He compared the discipline of creating a life plan to that of a building plan. Showing them their construction plans for the day he said, “When you drive down the road and see a building going up, those men and women are working off of a plan like this. Life is the same way. Whatever you are trying to do, create a plan and follow it. We are going to run into some things today that might derail us, just like in life, but we always come back to the plan to get the job done.”

Harris and Russell’s Building Camp are giving young adults the tools, confidence and positive influence they need to support their own life plan and be successful.

Click here to watch Eric’s interview on Facebook.

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