Founder & President
The Mississippi River was literally Chad Pregracke’s backyard while growing up near East Moline, IL. 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 of 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. Chad was also honored to be named the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year. Whenever he can get away from his rigorous work schedule, Chad enjoys fishing, hunting, skateboarding, windsurfing and recycling used and salvaged materials by incorporating them into new projects.
Tammy earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Western Illinois University and has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and Peace Corps volunteer. A part of the crew since 2002, she’s the maternal leader of Living Lands & Waters. Tammy holds key roles in the organization that include: grant writer, coordinator of the many LL&W events, assisting with cleanups and even cooks some bomb meals on the barge for the crew. If all of that isn’t impressive enough, as Chad‘s wife, she’s the Yin to his Yang, the peanut butter to his jelly, the honey in his beehive, the stars in his sky and the one who reminds him not to forget Pork Chop on a river island. She consistently brings a positive attitude and her loyal companion, Travis (a.k.a. mama’s boy who never leaves her side), to work with her every day. When Tammy isn’t dedicating life and limb to LL&W, she loves cutting a rug, listening to live music, cooking and hanging with friends and family.
Educational Facilitator / Crew
Mike, aka Nozzy, began as a volunteer in 2005 and was asked to join the crew in 2007. Mike graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2000 with degrees in history and teaching. Before joining the Living Lands & Waters team, he worked as a teacher in his hometown of Rock Island, IL. Much like the mighty paddlewheels on the majestic steamboats of yesteryear, Nozzy propels the crew to greatness. His knack for motivational speaking and his go-getter attitude have earned him the nickname “Coach.” His words have inspired thousands of volunteers at hundreds of river cleanups. Mike takes his coaching to the classroom as the Education Facilitator, teaching students about the importance of our nation’s rivers, clean water and recycling. In his spare time, Nozzy enjoys lifting weights, reading, seeing live music and picking up garbage.
JOHN BOSTROM (J.B.)
Instead of pursuing a job as an international male model, one of the best looking crew members in the history of LL&W, John (J.B.), travels America’s rivers aboard our barge. He’s a quick learner and jack-of-all-trades. His duties include spinning tunes in a jon boat on the Mississippi River and keeping LL&W’s engines running and props turning. J.B. volunteered with LL&W for several years and participated in an Alternative Spring Break which all led to his employment with LL&W in 2011. He graduated from Black Hawk College in 2009 and attended Western Illinois University. In his spare time, J.B. enjoys doing sound and lights for local QC band favorite The Dawn, sailing and avidly following American Ninja Warrior.
Multi-Media Specialist & Project Coordinator
Dan started as an LL&W volunteer in 2010 and, after participating in two Alternative Spring Breaks and completing an internship, he was invited to officially join the staff crew in May of 2013. He’s known as a modern day renaissance man with many talents. He’s creative and adds innovative ideas to many brainstorming sessions. He’s a professional disc golfer, technologically savvy, guru of trash collecting, a soccer goalie, skateboarding whiz, snowboarder, sage photographer, prospective American Ninja Warrior and he plays one mean kazoo. He loves traveling and listening to live music.
Serving as the keeper of the checkbook, Shelly carries the responsibility of payroll, expenses and record keeping for the organization. She joined the LL&W office staff in the fall of 2013 and has a fun sense of humor and organizational and business skills that have added checks and balances to the operations. Shelly might be the kindest, sweetest, most giving person on the crew – but if anyone misses turning in his or her timesheets, Shelly will come a-looking. She and her husband Roger have two children. In her off time, Shelly enjoys watching her kids’ sporting events and serving as their full-time taxi driver.
Education Coordinator & Project Coordinator
Meghan was raised by bald eagles until the age of four when her human parents found her on the banks of the river and brought her into their family. A native to the Fox River Valley in northeastern Illinois, Meghan joined us from the Ozark Plateaus of northwest Arkansas where she spent 2014 working as a Teacher Naturalist at the Ozark Natural Science Center. She received her Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. There, she gained an appreciation for good cheese, cold winters and ecological restoration. Meghan spent two summers working for Citizens for Conservation as a restoration intern and helped restore some of the most beautiful prairies in Illinois! An all-around outdoor enthusiast, you’ll rarely see Meghan without a smile on her face! She spends her spare time adventuring, crafting or convincing the stiff and sore crew of the benefits of yoga.
Accepting a post at LL&W in June of 2015 was a natural next step for David, who hails from the Natural State of Arkansas. David puts the “can” in Arkansas with his can-do attitude and handiness with a wrench. David studied viticulture and enology at Arkansas Tech University and worked in his father and grandfather’s vineyard before feeling the tug from the Mississippi. He sometimes brings samples of wine and grape juice from home, which definitely multiplies David’s value as a crewmember. Evolving from grapes to oak trees, David tends to our oak tree nursery. When he’s not growing saplings of the future, you might find him hunting, canoeing, fishing or gardening. You will never see David without a smile unless he gets a little “peckish.”
Marketing Manager & Project Coordinator
Leah moved away from Salem Massachusetts to join the LL&W crew after graduating from Salem State University with a degree in business. She attended Alternative Spring Break in Memphis two years in a row where she collected every abandoned hair clip in the Mississippi and earned herself the nickname “Flair.”
Leah worked at an up-and-coming marketing firm in Boston prior to joining the crew. She’s looking forward to learning new, unconventional skills, exploring the mysterious Midwest (maybe catching a river monster?) and bringing some new ideas and knowledge to the table.
In her spare time, Leah enjoys lifting things up and putting them down, drinking coffee and getting lost. Her 10-year-plan includes obtaining several French bulldogs and living in a tiny home.
Office Manager & Sponsor Relations
Crystal, an East Moline native, earned a marketing degree from Northen Illinois University. She spent 16 years in corporate sales and marketing in Chicago and Raleigh before discovering that her love of writing could also be a career. She has the unique skill set of being able to sell pet rocks and then be able to write a best selling novel about the experience. She’s done neither but, if she did, it would ROCK!
She excitedly joined the LL&W team in February of 2017 as the master of all things social and web, including spider webs, things with webbed feet and also the ability to recite from start to finish the novel Charlotte’s Web. In February of 2018, she instead took on the role of tracking Chad which takes the combined skills of Dog the Bounty Hunter and Angela Lansbury’s character Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote.
For help reaching Chad, email her or, if you’re old school, you can send a message via carrier pigeon to the LL&W headquarters. Join the social conversations, now woman-handled by Leah, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
Safety Manager & Crew
Derek, aka Lil Scrap, started with Living Lands & Waters in the fall of 2017. He is the third crew member, along with Dan Breidenstein and Luke Lippincott, from Geneseo, IL (now forming the Geneseo trio). In fact, they all grew up on the same block. Derek previously worked for Rock River Arms before living the tug life. One of his greatest life accomplishments is founding the Freshwater Mussels Gym (a weight room/secret elite social club in one of our basement barge chambers). When he isn’t working he enjoys fishing, hiking, snowboarding and, most of all, watching the Red Sox play. Derek, one day, aspires to be the next Master Chef but, right now, he will stick to just doing dishes and caddying for Luke and Dan on the disc golf course.
Director of Partnerships
Matt Brinkmann joined us in May of 2018 to oversee fundraising activities and grant writing and explore other opportunities for partnership with companies and organizations. With a background in development, event management, tourism and the arts, he works from his home in St. Louis, where he’s been active in local efforts to revitalize the riverfront and renew interest in the Mississippi River as an asset to the city. Prior to joining LL&W, he worked with the Gateway Arch Park Foundation, Great Rivers Greenway, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission and the Saint Louis Science Center. And, in the local music scene, he is best known as a retired longtime founding member of the legendary Funky Butt Brass Band! Contact Matt if you’re interested in exploring any kind of partnership between your organization and Living Lands & Waters.
If Travis could be summed up in one word it would be loyal…loyal at least to LL&W’s maternal leader, Tammy. Travis is smart enough to not stray too far from the gravy train. However, when he hears someone rummaging through the refrigerator, he will be the first to be by their side. Travis was discovered in Southern Illinois with a patty of liquid nail on his head. Travis puts the word “chill” in chiller and his exceptionally laid back personality is great for any campfire. A few of Travis’ accomplishments include: four-time champion softest fur coat at the National Fur Convention, fastest hot dog eaten North of the Mason Dixon line and a variety of firsts and seconds at the biannual Alaskan river dog bark off championship. Simply put, Travis is a god among dogs.
Meet our other friendly crew pups: Bailey, Pork Chop, Kota and Diesel.
After wandering the hills and valleys of Montana for eight months of his lonely puppy-hood, Pork Chop was taken in by the loving embrace of Chad and Tammy. Right away, it was apparent that he was made for life on the river. Never missing a boat or car ride, Pork Chop could be compared to a mix between Scrappy-Doo and Curious George. Pork Chop’s hobbies include wrasslin’, running full speed ahead (usually into Travis or Diesel) and catching flies in mid-air. The crew is extremely happy to have Pork Chop aboard!
Meet our other friendly crew pups: Bailey, Travis , Kota and Diesel.
Bailey was rescued near the Ozarks in Arkansas. Like a true mountain gal, Bailey loves going hiking with her mom and dad, David and Meghan. She won first place in Red Bull’s Parkour competition at Art of Motion 2017. Squirrels must keep a safe distance from this one as she has proven that she can, in fact, climb trees! When she’s not running circles around the other pooches, she likes to snuggle and follow her mom around.
Meet our other friendly crew canines: Travis, Pork Chop and Diesel.
Kota joined the crew in late March of 2018 at the young age of 4 months old. His humans JB and Leah snagged the little dude at a Joliet, IL herding rescue. Although he’s still learning how to conquer some tough obstacles such as high jumps, loud noises and rogue dryer sheets, he is quickly learning the fine art of “chillness” from OG’s Porkchop and Travis. He’s no stranger to cuddles and will curl up on anyone and anything just about everywhere. Rub his belly or throw him a bone and he’ll be your best pal forever.
Meet our other friendly crew pups: Travis, Bailey, Pork Chop and Diesel.