About Benji

Founder, Author, Conservative Environmentalist

Hi! Benji Backer here. Welcome to my “about” page, where you’ve decided to learn a bit more about my life journey.

I grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin (~30 minutes from Green Bay) with two amazing older sisters, entrepreneurial and inspiring parents, and a tight-knit extended family. 

At age 10, during the 2008 presidential election, I stumbled across a debate between John McCain and Barack Obama on TV, and I immediately fell in love with politics. My family had always steered clear of the political fray, but I decided I wanted to be active in the process. Throughout the next eight years of middle and high school, I volunteered for dozens of conservative candidates, making tens of thousands of phone calls and knocking on thousands of doors. In 2014, I spoke on the main stage of CPAC (the largest conservative conference) and began writing for national news outlets about my values. Whether volunteering locally for candidates — or contributing to the national political narrative — I was consistently reenergized by the reality that I could make a huge difference in our democracy as merely one person — one who couldn’t even vote yet.

While I grew my roots in the political scene, I was simultaneously establishing a deep connection with my other passion: my love of nature. During high school, I spent nearly all of my free time enjoying the forests and lakes of northern Wisconsin, visiting National Parks, and finding bliss on hiking trails. To me, nature was entirely nonpartisan. My love of the environment — and my desire to protect it — had nothing to do with my political ideology. It just made sense. 

While my passion for the environment expanded throughout high school, my frustration with the widening partisan divide on environmental issues did, too. And, as a conservative activist, the lack of Republican engagement was even more aggravating. 

After graduating high school in 2016, I moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. I largely chose UW because of its proximity to the beautiful Cascade Mountains — to hike and ski every weekend. During the fall of my freshman year, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in their contentious, divisive election. Once again, the environment and climate change were being used as a political football by both candidates…and I didn’t feel represented by their dialogue at all. Dismayed, I looked for a campus organization where I could advocate for conservative environmental action. While I found a few inherently left-leaning clubs, there was nothing for conservatives — or even people in the “middle.”

Enter the American Conservation Coalition (ACC)

As I sat thinking about all of this during a class on environmental entrepreneurship, I opened up my computer, purchased a website for ACC, and posted on Twitter that I intended to create an organization focused on getting conservatives back to the environmental table. A group of young leaders (many of whom I’d never met or worked with before) responded with similar feelings and offered to help with the effort. We quickly assembled ACC’s incredible founding team and began building. 

ACC’s 7+ years of difficult work — against all odds — has resulted in the largest conservative environmental organization in the country, with over 40,000 grassroots activists across all 50 states. Alongside some terrific partners, our grassroots movement has helped pass historic bipartisan legislation — and made massive strides in changing the conservative movement’s narrative from “environmental denial” to “environmental action.”

I’ve learned a lot over the past 7+ years of leading ACC’s movement. But my favorite learnings have come from visiting hundreds of communities across every corner of this country. Meeting people from quite literally all walks of life, I’ve seen firsthand how we share a stake in solving environmental concerns — and I’ve been so inspired by the work happening on the ground. While our political system might be broken, I can promise you the will of our fellow neighbors to build a better future is not.

With the launch of my book The Conservative Environmentalist: Common Sense Solutions for a Sustainable Future, my continued involvement as Executive Chairman of ACC’s quickly-growing movement, and establishing the narrative that Nature Is Nonpartisan (once and for all), my mission couldn’t be clearer. It will take all of us, but I firmly believe we will build a sustainable future for all people — a future that enhances human flourishing, safeguards our individual community’s needs, uplifts our economy, and protects our environment. 

I currently live in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I love it here. In my free time, you can find me hiking, skiing, watching Wisconsin’s sports teams, playing pickleball, drinking unsweetened iced tea, and/or attempting to solve my life-long back problems!

Lastly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your interest, support, and partnership in building a brighter, more sustainable future. It will truly take all of us, and I look forward to working side-by-side for years to come.


Benji Backer

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    Awards and accolades:

    • Fortune 40 Under 40
    • Forbes 30 Under 30
    • GreenBiz 30 Under 30
    • Grist 50
    • MavPac Future 40
    • Young Republican National Federation 1856 Society
    • America’s Future 1995 Society
    • MRW’s Hon. Dan Evans Award for Visionary Environmental Leadership
    • ABC News top-five climate activist
    • Multiple Congressional testimonies, including with Greta Thunberg in 2019

    New Book:

    The Conservative Environmentalist

    Politicians, pseudo-experts, and other partisans have led us to believe that there are only two  approaches to climate change: doomerism or denial. Benji Backer, Executive Chairman and Founder of the American Conservation Coalition, argues that both are dead ends. In The Conservative Environmentalist, he delivers an entirely new strategy to take care of the planet while putting put the  economic interest of the American people first.  

    Backer makes the compelling case that conservative principles are the key to climate solutions that  actually work. In this book, you’ll visit the country’s most diverse ecosystems and consequential  manufacturing hubs—from Utah coal mines and Texas oil fields to Louisiana wetlands and Rhode Island  offshore wind farms—witnessing the power of individual entrepreneurship and local problem-solving.  You’ll be inspired by groundbreaking efforts to strengthen earth’s ecosystems (that Green New Dealers  and other Big Government advocates would prefer to keep hidden), like partnerships between oil and gas  companies and environmental nonprofits to preserve thousands of acres of wetlands.  

    Drawing on cutting-edge science, a deep understanding of local community needs, and his experience rallying politicians on both sides of the aisle to take action, Backer offers hope for everyone who cares about the state of the great outdoors. Fascinating, clear-headed, and full of surprises, The Conservative Environmentalist is the fresh, audacious approach needed to ensure a sustainable future, and particularly one that works for America.

    Buy a Copy

    Interested in a bulk order? Send me a note at bb@benjibacker.com to discuss pricing and other bonuses.