“Aren’t you that fishing guy?” Duke classmates regularly ask Lucas Metropulos when they meet him.
“Now, I can say more than just, ‘yes,’” Lucas says. “I can invite them to volunteer.”
That’s because he’s brought Fishing for Families in Need, the program he created in his hometown of Boca Raton, Fla. when he was just 15-years-old, to Durham.
“My mother told me that I should volunteer somewhere or do some kind of service in my community,” Lucas says. “I decided to incorporate fishing as well as marine education in order to make children into what I call responsible anglers and good stewards of the sea.”
His inspiration came from a yearly trip to family friends living in the Bahamas, who taught Lucas about more about fishing and marine ecosystems. He used that knowledge to start teaching children how to fish responsibly, and about the different types of marine ecosystems and organisms. Lucas also partnered with fishing tournaments in Florida to donate more than 800 meals of fresh fish to a local soup kitchen.
When the sophomore began attending college at Duke, he felt there was a place in the Durham community for the program he'd established. Last year, he partnered with the Ronald McDonald House of Durham to take the parents and siblings of the children they assist out for fishing trip to nearby Lake Michie. This year, he’s teaching a class every Tuesday at Durham Nativity School that covers a range of topics, from the different types of rods and tackle, to careers in marine sciences.
“I think Durham Nativity School is a wonderful partner to work with considering their great mission to help children who have academic potential, just not the monetary means,” Lucas says.
Lucas’ main focus is on the work he does in Durham, but he still oversees the program in Florida, and he’s also spreading the program to other locations, like Rhode Island and Tarpon Springs, Fla.
This past summer, he received funding from the DukeEngage program to take Fishing for Families in Need to a local orphanage, summer camp and impoverished community called Hay Street in Nassau, Bahamas. He spent eight weeks in Nassau, and will return to do two-week programs every summer.
“The program remains a constant stabilizer and motivation for me,” Lucas says. “Seeing the children learn something new during my classes truly brings me satisfaction, which pushes me to constantly grow the program and myself to better influence the individuals and society around me.”
The pre-law, public policy major has won $20,000 from two service awards over the past three years – he was the 2010 National Make A Difference Day winner, as well as the 2012 All Star in USA Weekend magazine – all of which has been donated to the charities he worked with, including a gift of $5,000 to the Ronald McDonald House of Durham.
“In my view, simply going to Duke does not make me a part of Durham,” Lucas says. “Actively interacting with others in the community does.”
But Lucas needs a little help to keep building his program. If you’d like donate to Fishing for Families in Need, click here.