Short bio: Nick Engelfried is the author of Movement Makers: How Young Activists Upended the Politics of Climate Change, the first major book to comprehensively examine more than two decades of youth climate activism in the United States. After spending more than ten years as a youth activist himself beginning in the early 2000s, he transitioned to a new role as an environmental educator, founding Reconnect Earth in 2018. As a freelance journalist, Nick has covered the Pacific Northwest fossil fuel resistance, Indigenous-led campaigns to stop oil pipelines, the fossil fuel divestment movement, the rise of the Fridays for Future climate strikes, and more.
Detailed bio: Nick’s path into activism began in the early 2000s, when the national youth climate movement itself was young. He helped organize students to support campus sustainability efforts and campaigns to stop large fossil fuel projects, first at Portland Community College and then at Oregon’s Pacific University. After graduating from Pacific in 2009, Nick continued recruiting students from colleges and universities throughout the Northwest to oppose coal plants and liquefied natural gas pipelines in the region. He received the Oregon Sierra Club’s Adam Alabarca Young Activist Award in 2010.
In 2011, Nick moved to Missoula, Montana, where he earned a Master’s in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana and founded the student-led Blue Skies Campaign. Blue Skies helped grow and escalate the grassroots resistance to coal mine-for-export projects by organizing large rallies, creative protests, and nonviolent direct action in Western Montana. After finishing his MS, Nick expanded his involvement in Montana’s climate justice movement, working with UM students to launch a fossil fuel divestment campaign and co-founding a local chapter of the international climate activist organization 350.org.
Nick began working on an M.Ed in Environmental Education at Western Washington University in 2016. His final capstone project, “White Guy Hiking: How I Learned to Think Critically About My Ecological Identity,” explored the themes of environmental injustice, race, and privilege. In 2018, he founded Reconnect Earth, which leads backpacking trips for college-age students focused on exploring environmental issues, social justice in outdoor spaces, and grassroots organizing skills. As an environmental educator Nick has also taught outdoor skills to elementary school students, taken high schoolers canoeing in North Cascades National Park, and led classes on natural history topics for Whatcom Community College’s Community Education program.
Nick has been writing about climate activism and environmental issues for almost as long as he has been an activist. His articles and opinion pieces on these topics have appeared in Salon, Common Dreams, Vox Populi, the Missoulian, the Oregonian, and the Guardian, among other publications, and he is a regular contributor to Waging Nonviolence and ForceChange.com. He has also written fiction for Exterminating Angel Press and about natural history topics for the Methow Naturalist and 1889 Magazine.
When the Fridays for Future school strikes and other youth-led climate campaigns began generating national headlines in the late 2010s, Nick started covering this unprecedented wave of activism and exploring its origins. He soon realized the topic was big enough to require a whole book. This led to writing Movement Makers, which shows how a scattering of small youth-led climate campaigns exploded into a mass movement.