CNN Hero of the Year to speak during UNK Earth Week

Chad Pregracke
Courtesy Photo

UNK Communications

KEARNEY – Chad Pregracke has made removing debris from the Mississippi River and other waterways his life’s work.

He and his crew of over 60,000 volunteers have collected over 6 million pounds of garbage.

The CNN Hero of the Year will share his story Thursday at the University of Nebraska at Kearney as part of Earth Week events. Earth Week aims to educate the community about the importance of reducing the ecological footprint on the earth’s ecosystems and promote easy ways to live more sustainably.

“As we’ve developed our sustainability efforts in the last year, one of our goals was to have a whole week where we educate folks on what it means to be sustainable or what it takes to take small steps to get there,” said Jen Kacere, a complex director?in the Office of Residence Life.

Pregracke’s presentation, which is free and open to the public, is at 7 p.m. in Copeland Hall room 142.

He founded Living Lands & Waters, an environmental organization that hosts river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings and other conservation efforts.

Pregracke was also the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service and wrote the book, “From the Bottom Up: One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers.”

“He’s very engaging and shows you what you to do to clean our rivers, and what you can do on an everyday basis to keep our water clean,” Kacere said.

Also part of Earth Week events, “The Lorax” will be featured at the World Theatre. The film begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

“The Lorax” tells the story of a 12-year old boy searching for the one thing that will win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

Other events during Earth Week included a presentation on the latest research about the benefits and ecological problems with the plastic industry, a sustainable cooking demonstration and a campus waste audit.

Sustainability efforts on campus include refillable water stations in two residence halls, Green Resident Certification, tracking energy usage in residence halls and tracking cardboard recycling. The Residence Hall Association also encourages students to donate unwanted items at the end of the school year.

Earth Week events are sponsored by the UNK Sustainability Committee, the Residence Hall Association and Enactus. Follow UNK Sustainability on Facebook at UNKSustainability and use the hashtag #unksustain when attending events.


Source: Jen Kacere, 308-865-4806,
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529,

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