After nearly 50 years in the park and recreation profession, Allan Hancock College part-time instructor Paul Le Sage has been recognized with a major honor from the state. The California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS) awarded LeSage a Citation of Merit in the category of Professional Service. LeSage is the only person in the state to receive the award this year. The CPRS was founded in 1946 and provides career development and networking for more than 4,000 park and recreation professionals.
“I am beyond thrilled,” said LeSage, who started teaching recreation classes at Hancock eight years ago. “I have dedicated my life to improving the quality of life for people in the cities where I have worked. So to be recognized by my peers makes the award even more special,” he added.
LeSage started his park and recreation career as a part-time groundskeeper in Gardena, California. He spent six years in Lomita before moving on to San Bernardino. LeSage became the Recreation Superintendent for the City of Santa Maria in 1976. He launched the city’s youth soccer program and oversaw projects such as the Hagerman Sports Complex and the Minami Community Center.
“Paul is an inspiration to his staff. His genuine care for the community and his mentoring of those who worked for him have led to a significant impact in cities throughout the state,” said Teresa Reyburn, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Santa Maria. Reyburn nominated LeSage for the award.
After 17 years in Santa Maria, he became the Park & Recreation Director for the City of San Luis Obispo. During his 12 years in the position, LeSage led projects like building the Damon Garcia Sports Complex, adding adult softball fields and renovating gyms at elementary schools.
When he started at Hancock in 2005, there were no recreation management classes offered to students. Currently, there are five classes and an associate in science recreation management degree.
LeSage said teaching college students at Hancock is the perfect end to his career. “The leisure services industry is losing the younger generations. I’m trying to get people interested in
the profession and bring people back to the public sector,” added LeSage. “I accept this award in honor of all part-time faculty at Hancock because we are all dedicated to our fields and helping students.”
“We are privileged to have such an exceptional professional leading our recreation management program. Our students are lucky to learn from a man with almost half a century of experience,” said Kim Ensing, the associate dean of Hancock’s kinesiology, recreation and athletics department.
LeSage will be honored at a regional conference in southern California March 5-7.