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.
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.
Multi-Media & 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.
Marketing Director & 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.
First of all, Rachel would like to apologize and is sorry for the content of her bio. Rachel is probably are most apologetic crew member she once apologized for apologizing. She also has been known to send apology letters to random people she has never met. She is sorry you are reading this right now. Speaking of sorry, it is also her favorite board game.
She is from a little town in SE Wisconsin, so yes she enjoys cheese, beer, the Green Bay Packers, and of course apologizing. During March 2019 Rachel volunteered with LL&W on ASB. This trip ultimately led to her joining the team as Educational Coordinator in July. Prior to moving to the Quad Cities, she was finishing up her undergrad studies at UW- Stevens Pointe where she received her Bachelor's of Science in Environmental Education. Rachel is constantly laughing, extremely positive, and always willing to help out where needed. During her spare time she enjoys backpacking, wildflower identification, showing all the crew pups love, and of course apologizing.
Rhiannon Rogstad initially started working with Living Lands & Waters in 2014-2015, helping with grant writing and recently rejoined the crew in September of 2019. She taught university writing and literature courses for ten years before entering the non-profit world in 2014. She has worked over the last six years with three non-profits, including her current work as the Director of Philanthropy at Abundant Grace Coastside Worker, which serves the homeless. Her grant writing skills are as rock-solid as granite, and we don’t take them for granted, because they help keep our props spinning. Rhiannon’s grant writing skills are undeniable. But, she is probably most famous for co-writing the infamous indie river folk song, Pandiculation Station, with a former crew member, Nelson Curran. Rhiannon is almost as well-traveled as Carmen Sandiego, living in 24 towns in 12 states, including the Canadian Province of Ontario. She is a voracious reader, always reading at least two novels at a time. Rhiannon enjoys hikes and walks with her two middle school age boys and according to her other friends that are moms and AMAZING! The greatest joy in her life (apparently even over the birth of her sons) is when she made a margarita for Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Tree Nursery Manager
Andrew is an East Moline, IL native. He has worked in many professions, from construction to making amazing bagel sandwiches, teaching, farming, pouring concrete, and everything in between. He married the love of his life, Casie, and they have two dogs, Lily and Chief, and two little girls, Virginia and Lucy. They love traveling the world and spending time with their amazing friends and loving family. Andrew also enjoys live music, the mountains, being in the woods, skiing, hunting/fishing, the Cubbies, new experiences, meeting people from all walks of life, and saving the world, one piece of garbage at a time. He has made it his life goal to bring the coach to justice for his unlawful coaching career, lies, and his multi-personalities. The ref will prevail.
Jason was born in Moline, Illinois, on June 13th, sharing the same birthday as professional hockey mask wearer Jason Voorhees. He was raised on a small family farm in Alpha, Illinois, where his childhood hobbies included collecting bugs and shoveling horse manure.
During high school, Jason was AlWood High School’s basketball team captain and homecoming king runner up. He also sported a mohawk and the nickname “J-Dazzle.”
While obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Northern Illinois University, he survived off of a diet of nothing but Casey’s pizza and Fatty’s spicy potato salad.
He received his Master’s of Business Administration from Ashford University, while simultaneously working as a Crisis Intervention Case Manager in Rock Island, Henry, and Mercer counties for The Center for Youth and Family Solutions, and volunteering as Director of The Place2b, an after school program for at-risk and homeless youth located in Rock Island, Illinois.
In addition, some of Jason’s other past jobs include teaching 3 to 5-year-olds at a non-profit Montessori school, building and maintaining country roads for Oxford and Lynn townships, carpentry projects as an independent contractor, holding a real estate license with Ruhl and Ruhl, traveling across Illinois as a business consultant for struggling manufacturers, assisting Illinois Foundation Seeds, Inc. with cross-breeding and data collection of agricultural corn crops, and multiple jobs in the meat industry including assisting with the caretaking of hogs, the processing of cattle, and working in a butcher shop.
Jason was nine years old when he had his first conversation with Chad Pregracke during Bald Eagle Days at the QCA Expo Center. Twenty years later, in August of 2019, he volunteered at a community clean-up event in Muscatine, IA. Over the next year, he continued volunteering, traveling to Rabbit Hash, Kentucky to help out the barge crew, and assisting with the Million Trees Project and grounds maintenance of Living Lands and Waters tree nursery. In September of 2020, Jason officially joined the crew as a full-time member.
During his free time, Jason likes to listen to and compose music, go hiking, kayaking and camping, dance around bonfires, howl at the moon, and draw pictures of his best friend and cat companion Stone Cold Kitty Austin.
He hopes to help create and maintain more natural and life-sustaining environments by educating about the many issues that affect ecosystems and acting as a role model to encourage more positive action from others.
Jason’s biggest goal in life is to join the Rebel Alliance and become a renowned starfighter pilot while taking down the Galactic Empire.
Cody Breecher joined the Living Lands and Waters crew in December of 2020. He is a Quad City native, attended Moline High School, and was a local 150 operators and apprenticeship member.
Cody has driven almost every land-based vehicle, including trains! This mechanical guru loves building race cars in his spare time and has owned over 200 vehicles in his lifetime. He can basically build anything that someone’s willing to dream up. The crew has requested he assemble a towboat transformer that picks up trash and makes double stuff Oreos from scratch. He loves updating old stuff to work in new situations. Can we get a “HELL YEAH” for repurposing?!
What is this mechanical super juggernaut’s kryptonite, you might wonder? It’s ONIONS! He hates ONIONS!
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.
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.