The Arnold Bolle Award

Amy Cilimburg - 2021

Amy Cilimburg is a standout example of fierce climate advocacy and conservation in Western Montana, working for years at the local and state levels to reduce our carbon footprint and build more climate-resilient communities.

Amy’s career didn’t initially start in the climate sector; after earning her Master’s in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana, she served as program coordinator for the Landbird Monitoring Program and as assistant director in UM’s Avian Science Center, from 2002 to 2008.

For eight years after, Amy served as the Director of Bird Conservation and Climate Policy for Montana Audubon. Using skills in communication, leadership and citizen science, she collaborated with nonprofits, local government and tribal agencies to advocate for climate solutions and habitat conservation. She produced outreach materials and recommendations for wind and solar policies, prioritized threatened bird species, and led efforts to reduce the organization’s carbon footprint.

Then, in 2015, she left her job and founded Climate Smart Missoula, a non-profit geared towards building climate solutions at the local level through community engagement, capacity building, and partnerships with other local non-profits in the region. Under her leadership as Executive Director, Climate Smart worked with the City of Missoula and Missoula County to develop roadmaps towards clean energy and climate resilience, creating the now-adopted Climate Ready Missoula plan. Other collaborative actions include preparing a Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory, creating a Wildfire Smoke Ready campaign and a new Electrify Missoula initiative, and working with partners to provide additional resources for at-risk community members.

Climate Smart has even been nationally recognized–most recently, the nonprofit earned the merit-based Lightship Prize of $50,000 from the JFF Foundation, along with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Community Clean Energy Coalition Prize which comes with funding support for a new partner group.

Amy has also served on multiple boards and committees throughout her career, including the Governor’s Climate Solutions Council, Missoula Urban Transportation District Board of Directors, Mount Jumbo Habitat Advisory Committee, and Five Valleys Audubon Society as a citizen science volunteer. She worked tirelessly to support political candidates who advocate for a sustainable future and served on the board of the Missoula Chapter of Montana Conservation Voters.

Recognitions of her work include the Sustainable Business Council’s Sustainability Advocate of the Year (2014), National Wildlife Federation and Montana Conservation Voters’ Women in Conservation Award (2017), and Forward Montana’s Rockstar award for Climate Work (2019).
Amy’s career and contributions reflect a passion for both wildlife and humanity, along with the understanding that all beings are impacted by climate change and that collaboration is a necessary component to addressing and fighting these challenges. At a time when it is most needed, she helped create a blueprint for other communities not just in Montana, but across the nation to follow.

Biography by Kalle Fox

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