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Paul Osborn

Leadership Genesee names Paul Osborn 'Alumnus of the Year'

By Press Release
Nov 16, 2022, 5:13pm

Press release:

Leadership Genesee will present awards honoring the 19 members of the Class of 2022 along with the 2022 Outstanding Alumnus Award at the Annual Graduation Celebration at Terry Hills on Dec. 1.

Paul Osborn, a graduate of the Class of 2005, has been named the Leadership Genesee Alumnus of the Year. The award is presented annually to an alumnus who works to fulfill the program’s mission displaying exceptional achievements and contributions to the community and Leadership Genesee.

When Paul was asked what Leadership Genesee meant to him, he said, “Leadership Genesee was an opportunity for me to learn more in-depth details regarding our community and focus on how I could become a better leader. The program provides tools and activities that make you more self-aware of the bigger picture, to think before you react, and ways to understand people to communicate more effectively.”

Tim Hens LG 2001 nominated Paul, sharing, “Paul is involved in every organization that you can imagine. He spends literally his entire time making life better for the residents and youth of his village, town, and county.”

Paul’s community involvement includes active participation and leadership roles with the following organizations: Oakfield Lions Club, Oakfield Betterment Committee, Alabama-Oakfield Dollars for Scholars, Oakfield Recreation Committee, BEA Camp Hard Hat for students providing experience in a building trades environment, GLOW Corporate Cup, Green Genesee/Smart Genesee, Genesee County Youth Board, Genesee County Parks Advisory Committee, Genesee County Job Development Youth Employment Program and the Association for the Conservation of Natural Spaces (ACORNS), to name some of the organizations Paul helps steward.

Paul shared that it’s been difficult to stay directly active with Leadership Genesee as his professional responsibilities as the Deputy Highway Superintendent for Genesee County include overseeing the Genesee County Jail Project, which takes much of his time. However, Paul continues to help Leadership Genesee because he gained tremendous insights and opportunities for engagement with many Genesee County agencies that are the backbone of our community. Paul shares, “Leadership Genesee is a catalyst for motivating graduates to get out and get involved. Doing what I can is my way of giving back to LG.”  

Leadership Genesee director, Peggy Marone LG ’02 shares, “Paul has always been an advocate for Leadership Genesee, concentrating his efforts in the community, which is a goal of our program. When we knew we were losing the opportunity to hold Outdoor Leadership Challenge at Camp Hough, we talked with Paul about relocating the session to the Genesee County Park. He worked to ensure the elements he built were done to specifications allowing LG classes to experience teambuilding activities at the County Park.” 

Paul is a Landscape Architect by training and has volunteered his love of natural beauty with so many organizations, including helping in the design of the International Peace Garden. Paul has led the transformation of the Genesee County Park system and has turned things like the DeWitt Recreation Area and the Ellicott Trail into regional award-winning community assets. Paul received the 2020 American Public Works Association Western Region award for involvement in the design and construction of the 9.8-mile Ellicott Trail project and the 2022 American Planning Association Upstate Chapter Award for Excellence in Comprehensive Planning for involvement in the 2050 Comprehensive Plan for Genesee County.

Paul’s advice to anyone who is thinking about applying for LG is, “Go…don’t hesitate!  There is so much more to the program than meets the eye.  This program will provide you an opportunity to engage, learn, network, share your story, and most of all…be open to different ways of thinking.” Paul enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and learning about other places, especially Europe.

The Outstanding Alumnus Award is sponsored by Skip Helfrich of Human Energies.  Leadership Genesee is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities. For more information about Leadership Genesee, please visit our website at

Photo: File photo of Paul Osborn, 2012, by Howard Owens.

Paul Osborn making his mark on Genesee County's parks

By Will Barton
Mar 5, 2012, 2:17pm

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is part of a series prepared on behalf of the tourism agency of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. The new tourism guide was recently published and is available at the chamber's office and will soon be available at other tourism locations. The official tourism site for Genesee County is

Some people leave their mark on the land by building highways and shopping centers.

Paul Osborn is leaving his mark by making Genesee County's parks more accessible and inviting to visitors.

Osborn started his parks career 12 years ago after getting a degree in landscape architecture, but he thinks he made the right choice when he decided to apply to the county for a parks job.

"It was an opportunity to be part of creating something that will be there forever," Osborn said. "It my chance to create a legacy, to leave my stamp on things."

When Osborn took over as parks supervisor, the Genesee County Park in Bethany was in pretty bad shape, he said, and Dewitt Recreational Area was less than two years old and needed a lot of improvements.

"It was an opportunity to show what I could do for the community," said Osborn, a native of Oakfield who still lives in Genesee County with his wife of 12 years, Melinda, and their two children.

The vast Genesee County Park, covering 430 acres, was beset by disrepair when Osborn started. The bridges were getting old, the pavilions needed fixing, the playgrounds weren't up to standards and the facilities management structure was just a hut with a dirt floor.

Slowly, Osborn was able to rehabilitate the park infrastructure, and improve access for people with disabilities.

Today, the park is one of the gems to attract people to Genesee County.

With more than 150,000 trees, which were planted between 1885 and 1935, the park was the first county forest established in New York’s history.

Its four acres of wetlands provide habitat for waterfowl. There are also five ponds, a few of which are good fishing spots.

Visitors can enjoy five picnic areas and four playgrounds. There are pavilions equipped with grills and restrooms at each area. Hikers, walkers, runners and long-distance skiers can enjoy more than 10 miles of marked and mapped trails.

There's also a baseball and football field, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, and a sledding hill.

Dewitt Recreational Area, on Cedar Street in Batavia, is where Osborn has been able to exercise some of his creative energy.

While there was a master plan in place for Dewitt when he took over, it doesn't specify every detail of development. This allowed Osborne to choose the design of pavilions, select picnic tables and playground equipment and decide the best placement for them all.

And the park is still a work in progress.

Currently, it offers a state-of-the-art playground in easy view of either of its pavilions, plus a quarter-mile track, all on the edge of a large pond. The water is stocked each spring with brown trout, providing a lure to young anglers right in the city.

Since Osborn took over the parks, the Nature Center at Genesee County Park has also undergone its own kind of upgrades (the center is off Bethany Center Road, the last left before crossing the county line).

With the help of Judy Spring, environmental education specialist, programs have been added, displays made more interactive and marketing has been improved so local residents can stay apprised of what's going on at the center.

The 3,000-square-foot center was built in 1998. It offers a laboratory, a classroom, several display areas and a conference room. From the back porch, visitors are often able to view wildlife hanging out in their natural setting. The center is open year-round Thursday through Sunday, with hours varying according to the season. 

"The nice thing about our parks is that there’s something for everyone when they come,” Osborn said.

While Osborn is no naturalist -- he considers himself a facilitator for the parks, and finds the right experts to help with forestry and wetlands management -- he does think the parks play an important role in a healthy community.

He frets about childhood obesity and that too many children today do not get enough opportunities to play in the dirt.

"Last year we had a small girl from Batavia who had never been outside in the woods," Osborn said. "She needed a leader to hold her hand because she had never been in the woods before.

"Here we are living in a rural community and there is a little girl who has never been in the woods. That's just shameful for society. We need the chance for natural experiences."

Photos by Howard Owens

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