When John Craddock attended Ball State in the late 1960s, no clams or mussels lived in the White River due to a thick layer of sludge and waste settled at the bottom of the riverbed.

Now, the Hoosier Environmental Council has awarded Craddock, 73, with a lifetime achievement award for the conservation efforts he started as a student.

According to a press release, Craddock’s efforts reduced the level of toxic waste by 98 percent and species native to the White River have more than doubled. He also established Muncie’s Division of Water Quality.

According to the press release, Craddock’s efforts reduced the level of toxic waste by 98 percent and species native to White River have more than doubled. He also established Muncie’s Division of Water Quality.

His initial work in Muncie was only the beginning of his service to water quality.

Now, Craddock has traveled to five continents to conduct workshops, give seminars and work with communities for the purpose of improving water quality and protecting the environment. One of these was in Monterrey, Mexico, where Craddock developed a water quality control program to keep toxic waste out of the drinking water.

“The waste is just going right through the plant and right out,” Craddock said. “Then I found out that when it goes down this riverbed, it’s actually going into their drinking water reservoir. So I made five trips down there for them… and what we found out was that they had close to a thousand industries and no programs set up to control the toxic and the hazardous waste. So then I sat down and wrote up the program for them.”

Although Craddock is unsure of the source of his passion for the environment and water quality, he believes there is some link to his childhood, when he can remember spending entire days in the woods, alone, and spending summers with his grandfather.

“We used to fish and garden every summer. I’d go spend two months with him every summer because I wanted to. That was all through grade school, middle school and half of high school,” Craddock said. “He went all the way from dirt streets, wood sidewalks, no electricity in the town — it was a little farm community over in central Illinois — no television, no radio, oil lamps, to he and I sitting together and watching on TV a man land on the moon. So he saw a period of time that not many people see.”

Although the award commemorates Craddock on his life’s work, the physical manifestation of his success is the plaques, diplomas and awards that fill the walls of the office of his Muncie home.

“Some of my friends call it my war wall,” Craddock said.

The most important part of his wall, however, is the full calendar hanging next to his computer of different meetings for projects he works on in his retirement. Craddock sits on various environmental conservation boards in Muncie and has done what he calls “soft environmental work” since his retirement 16 years ago.

“I love it. It’s a reason to get up in the morning,” Craddock said.

Craddock credits his success to coincidence and a hard-working supporting team.

“I had a good staff — an exceedingly good staff,” he said. “One thing just keeps leading to another in your profession if you are fortunate enough to be successful.”