7:00 pm Book signing will follow the lecture
Rogalski Center Ballroom
Quad Cities native and founder of Living Lands and Waters, Chad Pregracke speaks about cleaning up America's waterways. He has been named to the final 10 for CNN's Hero of the Year.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Sheila Deluhery, 563/333-6132
More info: Living Lands and Waters
As the founder of America's only "industrial strength" river clean-up organization, Living Lands & Waters, Chad Pregracke tells a compelling and funny story about growing up on the river and how his river experiences led to his unique vision to clean up the Mississippi River.
From the darkness of underwater shell-diving to the brightness of open-air community clean-ups, Pregracke's tale embodies the importance of setting goals (one river and one piece of garbage at a time) and illustrates how determination hard-work and persistence pays off.
The river environment is relentlessly real and Pregracke brings the same up-front honesty to his presentation. His sincere enthusiasm is an uplifting wave for audiences of all ages as he relates his personal conviction to clean America's rivers.The Mississippi River was literally his backyard while growing up outside of Hampton, Illinois. The son of educators and river enthusiasts, KeeKee and Gary Pregracke, Chad and his older brother, Brent, spent the majority of their time on, in, and around the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
During his summer breaks from high school and college, Pregracke worked on the river - primarily as a commercial shell diver for the cultured pearl industry, but also as a commercial fisherman and barge hand. Typically working miles away from home, he camped on the islands and shorelines of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers to save money and fuel. It was during this time he began to realize how neglected the rivers were, with the unsightly and toxic accumulation of trash along their banks. At the age of 17, he started making calls to government agencies to notify them of the problem, assuming someone would take care of it. Years passed by and the problem only worsened. In 1997 he decided that if no one else was going to clean up the river, he would - one river and one piece of garbage at a time.
In 1998 at the age of 23, Pregracke founded Living Lands & Waters (LL&W), a not-for-profit organization based in East Moline, Illinois, dedicated to cleaning up and preserving our nation's rivers. Today, the organization has grown to include 11 full-time employees and an equipment base of four barges, two towboats, six workboats, five trucks, a semi, a crane and two skid loaders. With this equipment, the crew is able to travel and work in an average of nine states a year along the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, and Potomac Rivers, as well as many of their largest tributaries. Since the project's inception, Pregracke, his crew, and nearly 70,000 volunteers have collected over seven million pounds of debris from our nation's greatest rivers. Chad has also expanded the mission of the organization to include Big River Educational Workshops for teachers and students aboard a floating classroom, The MillionTrees Project, and the Adopt-a-River Mile programs.
Pregracke received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from St. Ambrose University in 2003. His vision, charisma, non-stop work ethic and natural leadership have garnered him an abundance of awards and honors over the years. Most notably, Chad was the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, America's version of the Nobel Prize, in June 2002. Chad accepted this award in the United States Supreme Court with other award recipients: Rudolph Giuliani, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Lilly Tartikoff. More recently, Chad was honored by having the opportunity to speak to the four living ex-presidents of the United States at the Points of Light Tribute in Washington D.C. in March of 2011.
This event, sponsored by Campus Ministry and GreeLife is part of St. Ambrose University's Sustainability Project, a year-long series examining our ability to sustain ecological systems through the arts, sciences and humanities.