An environmental organization that was established by Chad Pregracke in 1998, Living Lands and Waters is a river cleanup organization where volunteers spend up to nine months a year on a barge, where they host not only cleanups, but workshops and other conservation efforts as well.
Pregracke visited the college this past Tuesday to talk about his mission to inspire and motivate students to make a difference in their communities.
The Mississippi River was literally Pregracke’s backyard growing up near East Moline, IL. He enjoyed spending his childhood in the river, fishing and swimming.
“I never realized how lucky I was to grow up around the river,” commented Pregracke.
When he was 15, he started spending his summer breaks as a commercial shell diver to save up for college.
It was during this time when he learned how terrible the rivers were, with toxic accumulation of trash along their banks.
At 17, Pregracke started trying to get his voice heard by making calls to government agencies to explain the problem to them. After years of trying to bring attention to the issue and watching it get worse, he decided to he was going to clean up the river if no one else would.
He founded Living Lands and Waters when he was 23 and it has grown to have had over 60,000 volunteers so far.
The organization has received global attention and is sponsored by companies like Pepsi and Coca-cola.
“My mission is not only about the river, it’s about finding your passion through volunteering,” said Pregracke.
“If you see a problem, think about what you can do about it.”