Growing up in Greencastle, Indiana, Ryan Lemley’s peers once said he would be the most likely person in their graduating class to get kicked out of college. But they couldn’t have been more wrong about that. Today, the Indiana State University graduate is the Superintendent of Hendricks County Parks and Recreation—and he’s very good at what he does.

Before Ryan took the job with Hendricks County Parks and Rec, he worked in various roles with the Department of Natural Resources (Division of State Parks) for 15 years. One of the greatest reasons for pursuing the superintendent role with Hendricks County Parks and Rec was the exciting opportunity to build a park from scratch.

“I was ready for the next step in my career and the unique opportunity to create W.S. Gibbs Memorial Park from a blank canvas was one of many components to the job that was intriguing,” said Ryan. “Being part of a successful legacy project has been an honor and huge accomplishment!”

Now that Ryan has been part of a new park build, he sees even more value in the Parks Foundation of Hendricks County (PFOHC). When financial hurdles arise within a big project like the creation of a new infrastructure, parks departments often turn to PFOHC for grant dollars to help them achieve their goals.

“Not all park amenities can be successfully implemented within our respected budget,” said Ryan. “A prime example of this is the nature-inspired cedar playground at W.S. Gibbs Memorial Park, as the unique amenity would not have been possible without support from the PFOHC.”

With Ryan at the helm of the Hendricks County Parks and Recreation Department, more exciting projects are on the horizon including the expansion of the Vandalia Trail and fully stocked ponds at W.S. Gibbs Park. By the end of this year, both ponds at Gibbs Park will have Large Mouth Bass, Bluegill, Redear and Channel Catfish, so the community can enjoy recreational fishing.

“The dream of creating a public consumptive fishery within Hendricks County would not have been possible without the gracious support from DNR, as all associated work and the initial fish stocking will be at no charge to our department,” said Ryan.

And that dream is certainly appreciated by Hendricks County residents and likely residents from surrounding counties as well. Since opening in July of 2021 W.S. Gibbs Park has documented more than 4,000 vehicles per month entering the nature park.

With all the work Ryan and his team have put into the new park, it’s no surprise to hear it’s his personal favorite, but he also loves McCloud Nature Park.

“Watching folks enjoy something that we have helped create is a special feeling,” said Ryan. “With this being stated, I love the natural beauty of McCloud Nature Park.”

Ryan, his wife, two daughters and Australian Sheppard reside in the western-most portion of Hendricks County. And if you’re ever looking for him, we bet you’ll find him and his family enjoying one of our many beautiful parks, trails and outdoor spaces.