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He's hooked on FHA

August 17, 1998

Conrad: FHABy KERRY LYNN FRALEY / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer [enlarge]




BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Conrad Lucas didn't know the initials "FHA" stood for Future Homemakers of America when a co-worker of his mother's suggested he check out the club following a move to Morgan County, W.Va., five years ago.

"I was looking for any way I could to try to make friends and meet people here," said Lucas, 16, who admits he almost backed out when he heard the "homemakers" part of the name.

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It turned out Berkeley Springs Junior High School's small chapter - then only 17 members strong - had almost as many boys as girls, he said.

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By the end of the first year, after his FHA project won top honors in statewide competition and gold medals at the national leadership conference in Orlando, Fla., he was sold on the group.

As FHA's new national vice president for membership, Lucas said he's hoping to get others hooked by replacing dated images of the club and home economics classes that he feels have hurt membership nationwide.

In school systems that did away with home economics, it will have to start with persuading administrators to add family consumer sciences programs, covering things like parenting, financial planning and other practical adult life skills as well as the stereotypical cooking and sewing, he said.

"Everybody's a maker of a home," said the incoming Berkeley Springs High School senior, who was elected to the national office at the FHA national leadership conference in July.

One of his duties is to design a brand-new membership campaign that will be unveiled at the group's national membership meeting in Boston next July, Lucas said.

The focus on membership isn't new, but rather expands on his efforts as secretary and president at the state level, he said.

As president, he saw membership grow 42 percent in the state, he said. He'd like to see it go up an additional 50 percent statewide this year and to double at his home school, which has 56 members.

Getting involved in Future Homemakers of America has benefited him personally and professionally, Lucas said.

He has been able to travel all over the country and make lots of friends through the group, he said.

The transition to college and the workplace shouldn't be too difficult thanks to the practical experience and skills he has gained and honed, he said.

"Especially with public speaking. I've spoken in front of 500 people," said Lucas, who credits FHA participation with building his people, communication and budgeting skills and broadening his future opportunities.

Although he definitely plans to go to college next year, he's not sure what he'll pursue, he said.

Political science, business, journalism and hotel management are all possibilities, said Lucas, who said he changes his mind from day to day.

"FHA has kind of spoiled me. I know I want to travel a lot, put together programs, give meetings. I just need to find something that pays," he said.

In addition to his FHA responsibilities, Lucas is student council president, vice president of his school's National Honor Society, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is active in drama, the yearbook and the newspaper.

He has been a member of the statewide West Virginia Youth Action Council for three years.

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