City of Pleasanton's Menchaca one of 15 Students Selected for International Field Study

WLO Cohort
Parks Superintendent, Justin Menchaca, with his cohort at the World Leisure Organization field study in Dunedin, New Zealand. 

The City of Pleasanton's Parks & Recreation Superintendent, Justin Mechaca, recently traveled to Dunedin, New Zealand for the World Leisure Centre of Excellence Field School for an educational study tour. These educational study tours were established to offer a first-hand site visit and learning experience for professionals, scholars, public/private sector professionals and anybody related to the field of leisure studies.  Mechaca was sponsored by both the City of Pleasanton and Texas State University to attend the special program hosted through the field school, titled "Multiplicities of Leisure: Seeing through other lenses.”

Only fifteen students from around the world were selected to join the field school, Menchaca being amongst this prestigious group, which included students from Canada, the United States, Australia, and India. This rare opportunity gave our superintendent, Menchaca, the opportunity to join others in his field to learn ideas and perspectives on how different cultures and municipalities approach community development through parks and recreation. WLO conference 1

Menchaca first learned about this incredible opportunity through Dr. Zimmerman, a professor and board member of the World Leisure Organization, and professor at Texas State University where Mr. Menchaca has been working to earn additional certifications. Dr. Zimmerman recommended the program, emphasizing the unique opportunity for meeting and learning from other parks and tourism professionals from around the world at the World Leisure Congress.  

In the past, the World Leisure Organization has hosted field studies in Morocco, Brazil, and Dubai. This year, the cohort traveled to Dunedin, New Zealand, a city known for its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cultural scene. Guided by representatives from the University of Otago, each day unfolded with diverse activities that delved into the heart of New Zealand's culture and community values.

One of the focal points of the program was the exploration of Māori culture, an integral part of New Zealand's identity. The Māori values, deeply respected and cherished across the country, became a lens through which participants gained insights into how to preserve community values and cultural diversity. Menchaca says, “As we learned and talked about different areas of Recreation and Leisure, we all had to work in different groups and present our time in Dunedin during the World Leisure Congress.”

The field school covered a range of topics, including Community Street Art, Māori Culture, Youth and Development, Rainbow Community, Accessibility, and Community Involvement. Through engaging activities and group projects, Menchaca and fellow participants delved into these subjects, broadening their understanding of recreation and leisure across various cultural contexts.

This educational journey was not just about acquiring knowledge; it was an experience that allowed our parks superintendent to learn with peers from around the world as they explored leisure and community in different contexts, broadening their horizons and fostering a deeper understanding of diverse cultures. When speaking of the experience as a whole, he went on to say, “It was a wonderful experience and we all as a group learned new perspectives about others and ourselves.” Menchaca also expressed his thanks to the City of Pleasanton and Texas State University for sponsoring his field study.

We at the City of Pleasanton want to express our congratulations to Menchaca for being selected for this prestigious field study and are excited to support our staff in continued study and training opportunities. The insights gained during this field study will undoubtedly contribute to our work in Parks & Recreation here in the City of Pleasanton.


Menchaca honored at City Council

Parks Superintendent, Justin Menchaca, was honored at the Jan. 11 City Council meeting for his exemplary work. Pictured with Public Works Director, David Alviso (left) and City Manager, Johnny Huizar (right).