'Hero of the Year' finalist Chad Pregracke to speak at Luther Nov. 8: Lecture part of UMACS regional conference Nov. 7-9

Chad Pregracke, Living Lands and Waters founder and president, will give the keynote address, "Helping to Clean America's Rivers: From the Bottom Up," at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, in Valders Hall of Science Room 206. The lecture is part of the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability conference, "Celebrating Success, Building Community, Taking Action," Nov. 7-9 on the Luther campus.

The lecture is open to the public with no charge for admission. From the darkness of underwater shell-diving to the brightness of open-air community cleanups, Pregracke's tale embodies the importance of setting goals and illustrates how determination, hard-work and persistence pay off.

Living Lands and Waters is the world's only "industrial strength" not-for-profit river cleanup organization. Pregracke formed the organization at the age of 23, after growing up and working on the Mississippi River. He was appalled by the amount of garbage in the river and decided that if no one else was going to do something about it, he would.

Over the last 16 years, he, his crew, and nearly 70,000 volunteers have removed more than seven million pounds of garbage from U.S. rivers. 

He has broadened his mission to include projects from a MillionTrees and Adopt-A-River Mile, as well as a new floating classroom aboard a barge that he and his crew live on seven months of the year, teaching students, educators and citizens about the value of our rivers and natural resources. Pregracke has garnered a host of awards and honors—most recently being nominated a 2013 CNN Hero.

Pregracke's lecture is one of several events planned for the UMACS conference. The weekend marks the fifth regional conference for UMACS, this year in partnership with Second Nature and its Midwest Regional Collaborative Symposium. In addition to the normal program of presentations and posters from schools throughout the Midwest, Second Nature will bring specialized sessions related to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. 

As a result of this partnership, an ACUPCC preconference event, consisting of a Climate Action Planning Workshop on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 7, and a networking breakfast on the morning of Friday, Nov. 8, have been added to the main conference.

The weekend's plenary sessions include talks by John Farrell, director of the Energy Self-Reliant States and Communities program at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and Jacqueline Johnson, chancellor of the University of Minnesota-Morris.

Additional sessions will be incorporated throughout the conference to create further opportunities to learn from common challenges, discuss ideas and showcase success stories. The full conference program is posted at: http://online.nwf.org/site/Calendar?id=107421&view=Detail.

More information on the preconference event can be found at: http://www.umacs.org/acupcc-pre-conference-information-0.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,500, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the bachelor of arts degree in 60 majors and preprofessional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: www.luther.edu.