For someone who is retired, Parks Foundation of Hendricks County Board Member Gary Emsweller sure does work an awful lot. It’s mostly volunteer work, but that doesn’t make it any less time-consuming or any less meaningful. The truth is, our entire community benefits from Gary’s service, and we are thankful he has stuck with us for so many years, giving back to the place he calls home.

As a member of the Hendricks County Parks and Recreation Board of Directors, Gary was involved in early conversations about how a parks foundation could be valuable for Hendricks County–and his advocacy helped bring that vision to life. For Gary, the decision to create a parks foundation back in 2009 simply made the most sense.

“As the Hendricks County Park Board continued to develop parks, trails and community facilities in our park system, it became abundantly clear the need for a mechanism to allow gift-giving by our park supporters that would provide a tax incentive and a protected system to manage those gifts,” said Gary. “Thus, members of the Hendricks County Park Board created the Parks Foundation of Hendricks County. I have had the privilege to serve on the PFOHC Board since it was formed.”

Gary has spent his life committed to Hendricks County parks and trails and encourages other community members to do the same. He recognizes there is limited land available for people to enjoy a walk in the woods, or to appreciate wildlife in its natural environment.

“Once the land is developed those opportunities disappear for the public,” said Gary. “We also can not totally depend on our governmental entities to financially support the many projects that are needed to develop these quality-of-life enhancements and opportunities.”

Whether it be grants, gifts or donations, Gary says it takes everyone to develop, grow and maintain these limited public resources. And he loves being a part of an organization that offers something few others do—an opportunity to create a legacy for everyone to enjoy.

“The Parks Foundation of Hendricks County is a perfect conduit to make any type of donation—no matter how large or small—with the understanding, it will be used to improve the quality of life for every individual, their communities and Hendricks County,” said Gary.

Gary firmly believes that an investment in the Parks Foundation of Hendricks County cultivates an environment of peace, comfort, and enjoyment for every person wishing to enjoy nature, open spaces and solitude of the great outdoors.

When it comes to enjoying that peace and comfort himself, Gary loves exploring Hendricks County’s newest park, W.S. Gibbs Memorial Park. But like we said, despite retiring as a Educator many years ago, Gary has very little “free time.”

One place you’ll be sure to find him is the Pioneer Village at the Indiana State Fair each year. That’s because he’s the superintendent and manager of this major operation, where he works throughout the year making plans, recruiting volunteers and developing ideas and concepts to share Indiana’s agricultural heritage with the public.

Additionally, Gary collects, maintains and shows antique tractors. He and Ony, his wife of 46 years, have traveled halfway around the world, showing tractors. Gary is an active member of the local Hendricks County Antique Tractor & Machinery Association. He and Ony enjoy watching their grandkids grow and develop in sports, theatre, 4-H, school events and church activities.

But here are a couple of things you probably didn’t know about Gary. Although he graduated from our State’s most notable agricultural school, Gary studied computer technology at Purdue, not agriculture! And here’s a fun fact he also shared.

“I can harness, hitch and drive a six-horse hitch of draft horses!”

Now, that’s something we need to see, Gary! Thank you for your ongoing commitment and service to the Hendricks County community.