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.
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.
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.
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. In her off time, Shelly enjoys watching her kids’ sporting events and serving as their full-time taxi driver.
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.
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.
YES HE IS BACK, FOLKS. Derek, aka Lil Scrap, aka Hoppy, started with Living Lands & Waters in the fall of 2017. 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 just stick to (rarely) doing dishes and caddying for Dan on the disc golf course.
Bio coming soon!
Introducing Brian Cress: The "Diesel Dynamo" Fleet Manager Extraordinaire!
If there's one guy who knows how to keep our fleet running smoothly, it's Brian Cress. With his trusty wrench in hand and a mischievous twinkle in his eye, Brian has been a heavy-duty diesel technician since 1998 and, thankfully (for us), joined our crew in 2022! If it has an engine, Brian can work his magic and bring it back to life!
But Brian's talents don't stop at fixing engines. Oh no, this man is a true globetrotter! He served as a machinegun team leader in the Marines, bravely defending our country and embarking on thrilling adventures in far-flung corners of the world.
When he's not getting our equipment fixed up, you'll find Brian embracing his love for the great outdoors. He's always up for an adventure, and you can bet he's the first to lend a helping hand to anyone in need, whether it's fixing a flat tire or rescuing a stranded duckling from a storm drain.
With his infectious sense of humor and boundless enthusiasm, Brian brings a ray of sunshine to our team. Living Lands & Waters is lucky to have Brian on board, making the world a better place, one engine at a time.
Callie grew up in Waukesha, WI for most of her 27 years of living on this earth. Callie graduated from Lake Forest College, in 2018. She graduated with a major in Environmental Studies, and a minor in Communications. Right out of college she got her first “big girl” corporate job, but felt like she was missing something in her life. So, after some time she decided to pack up her belongings and head out west to Portland, Oregon to be a drummer in an island reggae band. Then, Covid hit...
On what was supposed to be a quick visit back to the midwest Callie got connected with Tammy, and the rest is history. Callie will be running LL&W’s events, press releases, media connections, and whatever random ideas Chad calls her about. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting her parent’s alpaca farm, hanging out with her 3 older sisters, drumming, playing ukulele, swimming, scuba diving, traveling, and yoga. Callie grew up as a competitive swimmer and loves any and all types of water. So, living on a barge down by the river is her ideal work/life balance!
Leah moved away from Salem, Massachusetts, to join the LL&W crew in 2017 after graduating from Salem State University with a degree in business. Prior to that, 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 briefly departed from the crew in 2021 to explore a more land-based life of marketing but was ultimately peer pressured to return to LL&W in Spring 2023.
In her spare time, Leah runs a freelance graphic design business, "Flair's Creative Design", and enjoys hiking, live music, and hanging with her pup, Tito.
Bio coming soon!
In the vibrant saga of David Solbrig (nickname TBD), a native of the Quad Cities, his odyssey with Living Lands & Waters ignited in the summer of 2023. Having graduated from Iowa State University in 2019, armed with a degree in Forestry, David embarked on a journey that took him across the Midwest, nurturing urban forestry. Now, a fervent environmental guardian, he leaps into the nonprofit realm, driven by an unwavering ardor for the earth, dedicating himself to the noble task of tidying up the landscape, piece by discarded piece.
Beyond the realm of work boots and muddy shores, David often finds solace in the grass, book in hand, evoking a tranquil scene of contemplation. Yet, his soul is a kaleidoscope of passions: a master of stone-skipping and Dungeon Master extraordinaire, he crafts tales and conjures worlds, while his heart dances to the rhythms of animated wonders (cartoons). Whether hauling debris from the Mississippi's depths or wandering through the untouched beauty of National Parks, this seasoned outdoorsman finds his ultimate joy in nature's wonders.
Bio coming soon...
Educational Coordinator / Crew
Kaitlyn hails from southwest Michigan, and no one hails like Kaityln from that area, can I get a "hail yeah!" for Kaitlyn?!
Her love for water led her to Alma College, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry. Post-graduation, she blended waitressing gigs with her passion for adventure and live music, until she joined AmeriCorps NCCC. Assigned to Living Lands and Waters, Kaitlyn became a force in the MillionTrees Project, distributing native trees to be planted across the country. You could say she is the "Caitlin Clark" of the tree game.
Beyond her river restoration work, she's known for her "Trash Walks," hitting the trails with a trash bag in hand, turning leisurely strolls into missions to rid the earth of litter. With a love for hiking, cooking, and mastering new crafts, Kaitlyn never shies away from spicy foods or a challenging card game. With boots on the ground and a heart for environmental activism, Kaitlyn Stricker is proving that making a difference starts with passion and action.
Louie likes to wiggle his butt and pick up trash. (He's a man of few words.)
Louie can't wait to see you on the river! Bark bark!
B.B. QUEEN SCHASER
B.B. Queen, aka "B.B.," aka "Barge Babe," was found by our crew member Callie at a gas station in downtown Memphis, TN, back in 2022 during our Alternative Spring Break program. What Callie thought was going to be a quick fuel and beef jerky stop turned into a day Callie would never forget. It was pouring rain, and out came this little hound mutt, malnourished and soaking wet, from around the corner. The gas station attendant said the dog had been there roaming around for about two weeks. Callie quickly took B.B. to the vet and found out she had no owner...until...she called up Chad and asked if she could bring on a new barge dog.
B.B. quickly adapted to the barge life and is thriving! She loves sprinting on the banks of rivers, sniffing out and chasing deer, armadillos, and rodents, cuddling her mama, and, of course, riding in the boats with volunteers. She loves hanging with her barge dog bestie, Louie, and going for long stick chases on the beaches together.
B.B. can't wait to meet you on the river!