Some problems seem so great in scale that it is easy to wonder if one person can make a difference. Chad Pregracke is proof that one person can make a difference. Raised near East Moline Illinois, Chad saw firsthand tons of trash defiling an American icon, the Mississippi River.  Chad also saw that no one was doing anything to change this, so at the age of 17, he set out to clean up the river – alone. Since then, he has founded a non-profit river cleanup organization, Living Lands and Waters. Through his vision and leadership, he has inspired over 70,000 individuals to remove over 8 million pounds of garbage from America’s rivers.

The Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Graduate Student Association (BAEGSA), with funding from the Green Student Initiative, is excited to host Chad Pregracke to speak at Oklahoma State University. Chad is a recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service and was named 2013 CNN Hero of the Year. Chad is a dynamic speaker with a truly inspiring story that will show the Oklahoma State community what an individual with a vision and passion can accomplish. Join us at 7:00 pm on Tuesday October 13, 2015 in the Student Union Theater to hear Chad’s story of one man’s mission to clean up America’s great rivers. This event is free and open to anyone, including the community at large. The doors open at 6:00 – the first 50 people will receive a free Nalgene 32 oz reusable bottle!

Description of Chad’s Speech

As the founder of America’s only “industrial strength” river clean-up organization and the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year, Chad Pregracke, tells a compelling story about growing up on the river and how his river experiences led to his unique vision to clean up the Mississippi River and start an internationally recognized not-for-profit, Living Lands & Waters.

During his hour-long talk, Chad takes the audience out on one of the world’s greatest rivers – a journey filled with endless challenges and gripping adventures. His delivery is motivating, captivating, genuine and refreshingly spontaneous. Chad will relate his experience to your organization’s mission and vision engaging the audience. Chad’s tale embodies the importance of setting goals and illustrates how determination hardwork and persistence pays off.

Chad’s Bio

Chad Pregracke is the internationally named 2013 CNN Hero of the Year, founder and president of Living Lands & Waters; a nonprofit river cleanup organization, author and professional public speaker. He is proof one person can make a difference.

Best known for starting out as a young man in East Moline, Illinois wanting a cleaner waterway, Chad has become the champion for the Mississippi River. Growing up on its banks, he worked as a commercial shell diver during his early years, experiencing the river from the bottom up. Sometimes spending 10 hours a day in the depths and current of the pitch black waters, he crawled nearly 150 miles of the river bottom over six years. Chad saw its beauty and was frustrated by the neglect. At the age of 17, he decided to clean it up. Twenty two years later, Chad and his Living Lands & Waters crew have organized and led over 800 cleanups on 23 rivers in 20 states and removed an estimated eight million pounds of garbage. Chad had an idea that evolved into a movement that has helped to restore one of America’s greatest icons, the Mississippi River.

Chad has been recognized by former President, George W. Bush as a national “Point of Light.” He received a standing ovation at the Kennedy Center from all four living former U.S. Presidents for his inspirational message on dreaming big, taking action, persevering, leading and collaborating. He has been the keynote speaker for college graduations, business conferences and events, classrooms, nonprofit organizations and more. Named “America’s Hardest Working Person” by Mitchum, Chad’s enthusiasm, sense of humor and passion amplifies his story and entertains audiences. Ultimately, his message inspires people to believe they can make a difference.

Chad currently lives and works with his wife Tammy dividing their time between life on the Teamwork barge and their home in East Moline, IL.

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