News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 20, 2013

Ducks on the water

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Wabash River hosted a different kind of race Saturday afternoon.

More than 800 blue, pink and yellow ducks — rubber ducks — floated on the river to the finish line at Fairbanks Park for the “Ducks on the Wabash” derby, organized by the Indiana State University Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.

The rubber ducks were dumped into the river from the sidewalk of the south side of a U.S. 40 bridge and were then guided by organizers who paddled on kayaks. The ducks reached the finish line in about half an hour. The owners of the top five rubber duck finishers received prizes, including an airboat ride for eight from Joe’s Airboats and pieces of art from local artists.

“Duck derbies in general are a fairly successful signature event,” said NLA campus/executive director Nathan A. Schaumleffel.

A signature event is a unique, successful, annual event that an organization is known for, such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

The NLA — whose students serve in various non

profits in the area — wants the rubber duck derby to be its signature event.

“We want to find something different” that has not been done in Terre Haute in recent years, Schaumleffel said while on a kayak.

He also said the group wanted to utilize a natural resource for the event: the Wabash River. The event also celebrates the 2013 Year of the River.

It also fits well with the NLA mission of preparing students for the workforce.

Just like a “raft of ducks vigorously paddling to achieve their mission,” the students can be viewed as “ducklings” on their way to join society as talented non

profit professionals, Schaumleffel explained.

“It’s been a good tie for our students,” he added.

The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance is a national alliance of educational institutions and nonprofit organizations committed to preparing and certifying professionals to lead nonprofit organizations.

Indiana State’s NLA was named the 2013 Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Sprint Campus Partner of the Year.

And NLA formed partnerships for the “Ducks on the Wabash” event, including Heinl’s Flower Shop and Vonda’s Garden Studio.

“I’m a big believer of helping youth and young adults in the community,” said Heinl’s owner, Vonda Monts.

Monts said the flower shop also aims to help non

profits by sponsoring an event that supports the educational experiences of students who will eventually serve in the nonprofit sector.

Heinl’s Flower Shop event coordinator Bud Welker said the shop also aims to give back to the community in celebration of its 150th anniversary.

And at the same time, the event helped students learn and inspire them, Welker said.

“I hope you’re learning skills” and will translate those skills to raising funds for nonprofits, Schaumleffel told a group of more than 20 students gathered by the river.

Almost $9,000 was raised from the “Ducks on the Wabash” event, Schaumleffel said.

Proceeds from the event will help send students to the Alliance Management Institute in January.

And the students also received some practical experience.

“It’s really good nonprofit practice,” said Clarissa Jones, president of the Nonprofit Leadership Student Association.

The students applied the skills they learned in the classroom to put the event together.

“I learned that … you can’t do anything in the non

profit sector without a group of people working toward the same goal,” said Jones, a senior at Indiana State University.

“We all have to work together as a community,” she added.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or