PLAINFIELD — Nate Thorne is a true product of the parks and recreation system. He is now using his lifetime of experiences to help the Indiana Park and Recreation Association as its new president-elect.
“I grew up in Indy on the near Westside,” Thorne said. “I was, as we affectionately refer to it as, a ‘pool rat.’ I was one of those kids who was dropped off at the pool every morning — I just never left. I really consider myself as a poster child for parks and recreation. I grew up in the city parks and I believe that the parks are an anchor for the community.”
Thorne graduated from Washington High School. He holds a graduate certificate in public management from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree in management and human resources management from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public management from IU.
“I got a business degree and really thought I would go to work in the private sector,” he said. “I always worked in the parks system, so I stayed put.”
He has more than 19 years of experience working with parks and recreation. He began his career as a lifeguard and swim coach when he was a teenager. He was managing the Krannert Park in Indianapolis by the time he was 20.
Thorne joined the Plainfield Parks Department staff in 2004. He is the deputy director of the Plainfield Recreation and Aquatic Center and Splash Island Water Park. The 113,000 square foot facility includes basketball courts, a fitness center, an indoor track, and an indoor/outdoor aquatic center.
Thorne is currently overseeing an expansion project at Splash Island. The outdoor water park will soon have a 900-foot lazy river feature.
He said his experience with Plainfield’s programs helped him in his role as aquatics chair for the IPRA board of directors for the past five years. This year he was named president-elect of the board.
“Any way I can give back and be involved on the state level is both honorable and flattering,” Thorne said. “I’ve made a serious commitment to being an advocate to parks and recreation.”
Chris Owens is the executive director of IPRA and has only been on staff for a few short months.
“I’m really excited about Nate’s passion for this position,” Owens said. “I believe he will not just stand alongside me, but run along with me.”
Thorne said he’s committed to rolling up his sleeves and getting to work.
“I want to be a strong advocate and push for continued credibility for parks and recreation,” he said. “I don’t want to serve on the board to just have a seat. I’m committed to taking an active role.”
As part of his duties as president-elect, Thorne will be organizing the IPRA state conference in Bloomington in 2013 and also holding a golf outing as a fundraiser for the IPRA Foundation.
“He has a proven record of innovation and success in his field,” Owens said. “His experience and education make him an ideal candidate for this role, as he’s worked his way up.”
Thorne will serve as the board of director’s vice-president this year and then transition to the role as president and leader of the association in 2013.
He resides in Plainfield with his wife and two children.