News Flash


Posted on: November 15, 2022

Eric VanBecelaere, Dustyn Whyte and Laurel Padilla join Shawnee County Parks + Recreation

Shawnee County Parks and Rec

TOPEKA, KAN. – Eric VanBecelaere has joined Shawnee County Parks + Recreation as Administrative Superintendent and Dustyn Whyte has joined the department as Recreation Manager. VanBecelaere spent more than 30 years in various positions with Evergy and Westar Energy. He has more than 15 years of experience managing staff, executing contracts, managing budgets and working with the public. He will oversee the department’s financial, human resources, marketing and public information functions.

Whyte holds a degree in Outdoor Recreation and Education from Ohio University. He previously served as director of youth programs at Rock’n & Jam’n climbing gym in Denver, youth activities manager at the University of Denver, and youth programs manager & head coach at RoKC climbing gym in Kansas City. At SCP+R he will oversee recreation programming, community centers and summer camp programs.    

Topeka native Laurel Padilla has been promoted to the full-time position of sports recreation leader. Padilla has worked for the sports division as seasonal staff member for the past four years, progressing to the position of seasonal manager overseeing and scheduling seasonal staff and managing sports facilities. She will work on sports tournaments, special events and sports leagues. Padilla is working toward a degree in business management from Washburn University.


Shawnee County Parks + Recreation includes nearly 60 miles of trails, 2,696 acres of parks and 320 annual days of sporting activities. In addition, the department offers recreation programs, educational programs and golf. A combination of tax dollars, user fees and private donations enables Shawnee County Parks and Recreation to offer parks, sporting and aquatic facilities with state-of-the art features, and beautiful, nationally recognized gardens.

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