JONESBORO – Local schools and the general public will join the campus community at the annual celebration of the 2018 Earth Day at Arkansas State University, Friday, April 20, on the east lawn of the Carl R. Reng Student Union. Events begin at 10 a.m. with presentations at 10:30 a.m. In the event of inclement weather, outdoor activities will relocate to the Dean B. Ellis Library.
Chad Pregracke, founder and president of Living Lands and Waters and the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year, is the keynote speaker and will address attendees from 11 a.m.-noon in the Student Union Auditorium. The CNN Heroes are everyday individuals who do extraordinary things to change the world.
Centennial Bank personnel will cook hot dogs for those in attendance and Chancellor Kelly Damphousse will present opening remarks. Schools, industries and clubs will be recognized for their environmental efforts. My Healthy Jonesboro will participate by handing out flashing lights to children for safety use when walking or riding. Also, representatives from LimeBike, a bicycle sharing service on the A-State campus, will be present.
Pregracke founded Living Lands and Waters, a nonprofit river cleanup organization, and has taken his message forward as an author and professional public speaker.
He was a commercial shell diver at age 17, experiencing rivers from the bottom up. Sometimes spending 10 hours a day in the depths and current of the pitch-black waters, he crawled nearly 150 miles of the river bottom over six years. Pregracke saw its beauty and was frustrated by the neglect, so he decided to clean it up.
Twenty-two years later, he and his Living Lands and Waters crew have organized and led over 1,000 community cleanups on 23 rivers in 20 states and removed over 10 million pounds of garbage. His idea evolved into a movement that has helped to restore one of America’s greatest icons, the Mississippi River.
Pregracke has been recognized by former President George W. Bush as a national “Point of Light.” He received a standing ovation at the Kennedy Center from four living former U.S. Presidents for his inspirational message on dreaming big, taking action, persevering, leading and collaborating. He has been the keynote speaker for college graduations, business conferences and events, classrooms and nonprofit organizations. The Mitchum company also selected him as “America’s Hardest Working Person” in 2010.
Pregracke’s presentation is sponsored by Clark Construction, Johnson Controls, Inc., RGB Mechanical, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, Brackett & Krennerich Architects, Cline Environmental Services, Development Consultants, Inc., and Fisher Arnold / HKB Engineers.
The observance of Earth Day is the idea of San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. Both had an interest in environmental issues. In 1970, each requested Americans join in a grassroots demonstration. McConnell chose March 21 (the spring equinox) and Nelson selected April 22. Millions of people participated, and today Earth Day continues to be widely celebrated with events on both dates. The most common form of celebration is to plant new trees for Earth Day.
This and other news releases also available at: AState.edu/news.