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Chad Pregracke: Cleaning Up Old Man River

Chad Pregracke: Cleaning Up Old Man RiverThe Mississippi River sweeps millions of bottles, cans, tires, oil, plastic bags and containers, along with junk of every description, and chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico 24/7.

From Minnesota where it starts as a six foot wide, 15 inches deep stream, it travels 2,552 miles and drops 1,772 feet through nine states until it rushes into the ocean. At its mouth, the Mississippi River creates a 10,000-mile “dead zone” where most vertebrate marine creatures cannot live because toxic waters contaminate their habitat.

How do I know? Over 15 years ago, my friend Gary and I canoed the Mississippi River beginning at its humble source in Lake Itasca, Minnesota. At first, perfect beauty greeted us until we hit the first homes and towns along the river. From there, bottles, cans, plastic bags, plastic containers, cars, sofas, tires, machinery, paper, cups, used diapers and hundreds of other pieces of trash passed by my eyes. We carried two large plastic trash bags and filled them every day.

At the end, I wrote a commentary asking major newspapers to engage civic leaders, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, high schools, Rotary and Lions clubs to form teams to clean up Old Man River. I asked them to consider a 10-cent deposit-return law for all soda pop, beer and liqueur bottles like Michigan’s successful law. The editors and publishers refused to publish my commentary.

Last week, I contacted Chad Pregracke on his quest to clean up the Mississippi River one piece of trash at a time.

Americans along the river toss their debris one piece at a time and Pregracke intends to pick it up “one piece at a time.”

“At the age of 17, he started making calls to government agencies to notify them of the problem, assuming someone would take care of it. Year after year passed by and the problem only worsened. In 1997 Chad decided that, if no one else was going to clean up the river, he would.”

Visit his website: www.LivingLandsandWaters.org

Since 1998, Chad engaged 60,000 volunteers to retrieve 6,000,000 (million) pounds of trash of every description. He expanded his work to the Ohio and other rivers.
On his website: “Chad’s vision, charisma, non-stop work ethic and natural leadership 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’s teams picked up 13 football fields worth of 1 foot thick Styrofoam; 8,800 feet of barge cables; 1,095 chairs; 19,700 balls; 63—250-gallon drums; 83,900 bags of trash; 5,800—55 gallon drums tossed by mindless Americans. The list runs down the page like a ticker-tape parade of embarrassment.

If you’re the kind of person who cares about North America’s environment and beauty, sign on with Chad Pregracke’s team.

Start your own team in your own city or state. Expand your powers by forming groups that create change. Model your work after Chad’s work. He will help you.

Finally, where you engage your heart, you infuse your life with energy, purpose and passion. Follow Chad’s lead and become a leader in your state, city and community. Your efforts will give the Mighty Mississippi a chance to run clean again along with all the other rivers in America. In the process, you will preserve Tom Sawyer, Jim and Huckleberry Finn’s legacy.

“Rivers flow not past, but through us; tingling, vibrating, exciting every cell and fiber in our bodies, making them sing and glide.” John Muir.

Read more posts by Frosty Wooldridge here. Frosty is a blogger for JenningsWire.


The post is presented by the National Publicist, Annie Jennings of the NYC based PR Firm, Annie Jennings PR.  Annie Jennings PR specializes in marketing books for getting authors booked on radio talk show interviews, TV shows in major online and in high circulation magazines and newspapers. Annie also works with speaker and experts to build up powerful platforms of credibility and influence.