Meet Chad Pregracke, an Illinois native who has turned his passion for environmental stewardship into a reality. As a boy, Chad grew up spending time with his family on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Over time he noticed that the rivers were polluted with tons of trash and no one seemed to be doing anything about it.

In 1998, Chad started Living Lands & Waters, a nonprofit with a team of sailors and vessels focused on removing garbage from the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Between 1998 and 2018, Chad and his team have removed 10 million pounds of garbage from 24 rivers while hosting river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, and tree plantings.

His commitment to giving back and protecting the environment is inspiring and has earned him numerous honors and awards including the Samuel S. Beard Award for Outstanding Public Service by an Individual 35 & Under in 2002. Chad Pregracke is a true champion of conservation and someone who has united his community around service. Our planet is much better for his efforts. Thank you, Chad.