MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (September 15, 2023) — Rivers are Life has premiered its latest film highlighting the work of Memphis-based River Hero Chad Pregracke and his organization, Living Lands and Waters. The documentary, titled Study Aboard, centers on Chad and his mission to protect the Mississippi River and beyond while empowering students to change the world.
Chad Pregracke grew up in Illinois with the Mississippi River as his backyard. As the son of two educators and river enthusiasts, Pregracke spent the majority of his childhood on, in, and around the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. After years of working on the Mississippi River as a clam-diver, commercial fisherman, and barge-hand, he became 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. At the age of 23, Pregracke founded Living Lands and Waters, an organization dedicated to keeping rivers clean and safe.
Study Aboard tells the story of Living Lands and Waters’ “Alternative Spring Break” trips. Each year, Pregracke and his crew host college students on their workboats in Memphis, Tennessee. Students from all over the country spend a week in a floating classroom and living quarters on Lake McKeller, collecting trash before it flows into the Mississippi River. The trash is then brought to their barge, where it piles up and creates an impactful visual intended to move locals to realize the magnitude of the problem. Finally, the trash is recycled at a local recycling operation. These “Alternative Spring Breaks” show students firsthand the issues facing our rivers, while inspiring them and local residents to act now to protect them.
“If everybody had a cause, the world would be a better place,” Pregracke tells students. "You can make a difference, and hard work will pay off in the long run. All you need to do is change your world. That's how the world changes."
To date, Living Lands and Waters has educated 11,386 college students from all over the country. Beyond “Alternative Spring Breaks,” the organization has worked on 25 rivers in 21 states and has hosted 1,326 community-based cleanups. Spending up to nine months a year living and traveling on the barge, the Living Lands and Waters crew hosts countless river clean-ups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings, and other key conservation efforts. They collect 100,000 pounds of trash each year, with a total of 13,000,000 pounds of trash removed to date.
Rivers are Life is proud to amplify Chad’s story and the work his crew and students are doing to protect our rivers. Study Aboard premieres today and serves as a reminder that everyone can make a difference and have fun doing it. Watch the film HERE.
About Rivers are Life:
Rivers are Life is on a mission to raise awareness of the true force and fragility of our river systems while showcasing their interconnectedness with all of us, our planet’s wildlife, and the ocean waste problem. Created to serve as a collective voice for global river ecosystems, Rivers are Life is comprised of River Heroes, organizations, and businesses dedicated to making a difference in local communities one project at a time. In sharing the stories of our waterways and those working to protect them, Rivers are Life believes we can cultivate a greater awareness of the importance of our planet’s rivers while driving innovative solutions, inspiring sustainability, and addressing waste.