"One river at a time, one piece of garbage at a time."
The Pregracke Center, located in the north atrium of the Workforce Development Center, honors the environmental reclamation work of Heartland alumnus Chad Pregracke. In 1998 Chad founded Living Lands & Waters, a non-profit river clean-up organization based in East Moline, Illinois.
The organization has grown immensely since its inception, with a large paid staff and a fleet of several barges and workboats. The crew averages nine states a year along the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio Rivers, as well as many of their tributaries. Since the project’s inception, Chad, his crew, and over 87,000 volunteers have collected 8.4 million pounds of debris from our nation’s greatest rivers. Most recently, Chad expanded the mission of the organization to include educational workshops, The MillionTrees Project, Adopt-a-River Mile, Invasive Species Removal, and The Great Mississippi River Cleanup.
Chad’s 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 in Washington D.C. with other award recipients: Rudolph Giuliani, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Lilly Tartikoff. In 2013, he was named CNN Hero of the Year. Chad is also the author of “From the Bottom Up: One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers.”
To learn more about Chad’s commitment to make a difference, "one river at a time, one piece of garbage at a time," visit the Pregracke Center at Heartland Community College.