R. Earle Lucas Jr. has always committed himself to the betterment of Manatee County’s youth and residents.
This commitment has led him to a lifetime of service to the 4-H program. Lucas has been instrumental in the initiation of many county-wide projects such as Manatee County Parks, the Port Authority, Manatee County Farm City Week, the Manatee County Agricultural Museum, and the Manatee County 4-H Foundation.
“Lucas’s commitment to encouraging youth to do their best is recognizable when he interviews youth for the C.V. Walton Loan Program. He serves on the loan committee where he encourages support for loan awards and scholarships to 4-H members,” said Katherine Smith, program assistant with the Manatee County 4-H youth program. He has been involved with the loan program for more than thirty years.
Lucas has made himself available for fair project judging, record book judging, and county and district events for more than 43 years.
“He is instrumental in the success of foundation fundraisers. From cleaning mullet to pricing items for an attic sale - he has done it all,” said Smith. She noted that the 4-H calendar fundraising project was initiated in the county years forty ago at his suggestion.
For forty-seven years he has donated 4-H calendars to help raise awareness and funds for the 4-H program. He consistently supports the county’s 4-H steer program every year by purchasing a steer at the county sale.
“My involvement in 4-H has always been so nice, a real pleasure,” said Lucas. “Working with 4-H has never been a job or a chore. Seeing the young 4-H’ers mature and grow, and seeing their positive attitudes is wonderful. I also like the fact that families get involved. The youth are polite, industrious and have a sharing attitude. They make you proud to be involved in youth work and in 4-H.”
Lucas has been instrumental in seeking new membership for the loan board by contacting key community leaders, interviewing them for membership, and then making final nominations. He has served on several boards in his community. He is a charter member of the Manatee County Agricultural Museum Board and served for many years as a Bradenton Kiwanian. He has also served on the Extension Advisory Board and as the Treasurer for the Manatee County 4-H Foundation.
He was selected as a Future Farmers of America Honorary Chapter farmer in 1975 and as the Agriculturalist of the Year by the Farm-City Committee in 1983. Four years later he received the Manatee County Extension Service’s Outstanding Leadership Award.
He is also active in his church, where he serves on several committees and is involved with service activities there.