The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana is an organization within Ivy Tech Community College that has historically searched the Northwest Indiana area for innovators of all types.
Dan Plath, the founder of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, NWIPA, was inducted as a Member of the Society in 2010 for his innovation in local water recreation.
Plath, of Westville, launched NWIPA in 2009 with the goals of protecting local watersheds, creating a network of avid canoeists and kayakers, educating the people of Northwest Indiana on paddling and supporting environmental efforts. His organization is unique to the area, as there are no other large paddling organizations with such a broad focus.
Plath and NWIPA have done a lot of work towards restoring and promoting local waterways like the Kankakee River. Over the past two years the organization has worked to get the river designated as a National Water Trail. This means that the river will be placed on a national map of premier water recreation destinations, bringing tourism to the area and spreading the passion for canoeing and kayaking.
In addition to the Kankakee River, the organization has been working on repairing the reputation of the West Branch of the Little Calumet River. What was once a fairly dirty waterway with limited amounts of wildlife has since been cleaned up through the redirection of sewer lines and the cessation of dumping into the river. Now, visitors to the area can see hundreds of species of plants, animals, birds and fish, including over 40 threatened and endangered species.
However, many people do not know that the Little Calumet has changed so, which is why NWIPA is working to promote the area by holding paddling events, among other activities.
Plath’s innovative organization has contributed to the Northwest Indiana community in the areas of recreation, tourism, environmental preservation and many more. It is no wonder he was inducted to the Society just one year after his organization launched.
For more information on Members and Fellows to the Society, visit www.NWISOI.org.