From the Bottom Up: One Man's Crusade to Clean America's Rivers

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9781426201004: From the Bottom Up: One Man's Crusade to Clean America's Rivers

Chad Pregracke was a high school student when he first glimpsed the trash that littered the bottom of the Mississippi, a shocking sight that launched him on a quest to clean up the river. After four discouraging years seeking government help without success, he decided to take his fund-raising private—and a corporate sponsor decided to take a chance on this naive but unshakably determined young man.

Ten years later Chad's one-man project has grown into a $500,000 operation with more than 60 sponsors (including National Geographic). His work has been featured on national news and won numerous honors and accolades, but its grassroots, can-do spirit still thrives aboard the 135-foot barge that serves as home base for his organization, a floating environmental classroom, and an inspiration to people of all ages.

This is the story of his personal triumph as an advocate for America's rivers. Chad measures success in tons of garbage removed and thousands of people with a new stake in—and a new understanding of—the river environment. But From the Bottom Up is much more as well: a first-person chronicle of Chad's own life along the Mississippi featuring colorful characters, a near-death experience, a haunted swamp, and other flourishes worthy of a modern Mark Twain; and a fascinating portrait of the river itself which explores everything from the natural history of mussels and catfish to Indian lore to the key role of the Mississippi in our country's history.

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About the Author:

Chad Pregracke founded Living Lands & Waters, a not-for-profit environmental and educational organization at age 19. Today he directs the efforts of a fleet of barges and community work crews that engage thousands of volunteers in cleanups along our nation's big rivers. He lives in East Moline, Illinois. Visit Chad's web site at www.livinglandsandwaters.org.

Jeff Barrow is a longtime paddler and outdoors writer who is a regular contributor to The Kansas City Star, The St. Louis Sun, Paddler magazine, and American Whitewater Journal. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

From Booklist:

Pregracke grew up on the shores of the Mississippi; as a young adult, working on the river, he was shocked by the amount of garbage littering the water. Deciding to clean up the river--at least the portion of it he called home--he approached corporate sponsors and quickly became something of a folk hero, the leader of a band of environmentally conscious volunteers who sailed the Mississippi, pulling old tires, appliances, pieces of furniture, even automobiles, out of the river. This simply written book chronicles the birth and growth of Pregracke's nonprofit organization, Living Lands & Waters, and introduces us to some of the spirited volunteers who have helped make his dream a reality. Pregracke has made plenty of headlines over the years (early stories on several networks gave his cause a big financial boost), and readers familiar only with the news stories will welcome this opportunity to see the men and women who have dedicated themselves to the seemingly impossible: cleaning up the third-longest river in the world. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Chad Pregracke, Jeff Barrow
Published by National Geographic (2007)
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