Chad Pregracke has set a lofty goal for his 20th year of pulling garbage out of rivers.
The founder of Living Lands and Waters says last year the group removed nearly 442,000 pounds of trash from the Mississippi and other rivers. This year, Pregracke wants that number to top one million.
And as always, he's confident it can be done. "I've been lifting weights and doing extra workouts... and uh... That's a joke."
The East Moline native says Living Lands and Waters will ask for help to reach the goal and add cleanups around the country.
Pregracke was in his early 20s when he got a job as a diver and noticed all the trash in the Mississippi River. "I still feel like I'm just getting started." He continues to be grateful and amazed by all the support he and the organization receive from volunteers, companies, communities, and other groups.
One of last year's highlights was a project with Anheuser Busch in New York City. Pregracke has worked with the company since 1999. In recent years, it moved some offices from St. Louis to the Big Apple. And last June, Living Lands and Waters worked with 200 company employees to help clean up the East River and Ferry Point Park in the Bronx.
Besides community cleanups, the nonprofit has initiated other projects such as a floating classroom, planting one million trees, and adopt-a-river-mile.