Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2013, 1:37 pm

Chad Pregracke to speak at St. Ambrose University

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Press release submitted by St. Ambrose University


CHAD PREGRACKE TO SPEAK AT ST. AMBROSE UNIVERSITY

DAVENPORT, Iowa—He's appeared before former United States presidents and was honored with the prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service. On Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m., Quad Cities native and founder of Living Lands and Waters, Chad Pregracke, will speak at St. Ambrose University. "Helping to Clean American's Rivers" will include stories of Pregracke's childhood on the Mississippi River and how he came to the unique vision to clean up "one river and one piece of garbage at a time." Part of the university's yearlong "Sustainability" project series, the presentation will take place in the Rogalski Center and is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow.

During summer breaks from high school and college, Pregracke worked as a commercial shell diver, fisherman and barge hand, camping on the islands and shorelines of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers—and seeing firsthand the unsightly and toxic accumulation of trash. After attempting to report the problems to authorities, in 1998, the 23-year-old Pregracke founded his own non-profit organization, Living Lands & Waters (LL&W), dedicated to cleaning up and preserving the nation's rivers.

Today, the organization has 11 full-time employees and owns a fleet of barges, boats, trucks and other equipment, working in an average of nine states along the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and Potomac Rivers. Since its inception, LL&W has collected more than seven million pounds of debris with the help of more than 70,000 volunteers. In addition to clean-up projects, LL&W initiatives include educator and student workshops aboard a floating classroom, the Million Trees Project and the Adopt-a-River Mile program.

Pregracke received an honorary degree from St. Ambrose in 2003 and was named one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2013.

The SAU "Sustainability" project series is focusing attention on ethical practices relative to the earth, its resources and to humans. Events include lectures, films, concerts, artistic performances and exhibits. For more information, go to www.sau.edu/sustainability.