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Morfeld takes his own advice

Above: An avid outdoorsman, Sen. Morfeld takes advantage of every opportunity to get away and enjoy back country camping.

A self-described “military brat,” Sen. Adam Morfeld spent his childhood moving from California to South Carolina, to Nebraska and finally to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

His Lincoln classmates at St. Theresa’s had a difficult time figuring out the new kid from South Carolina with a thick southern accent.

“I’m not sure they really knew what to do with me,” he laughed.

Being raised by a single mother for much of his adolescence instilled a strong work ethic in the future senator. Rather than enrolling in college full time right after high school, he opted to work full time and attend night classes for two years. He then returned to Nebraska, which he says “always felt like home,” and enrolled as a political science major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

During his time at the university, Morfeld learned a valuable lesson in perseverance when he lost a campaign for UNL student body regent. Despite his disappointment, Morfeld found a renewed passion for helping young people become more engaged in their government.

While still an undergrad, he founded Nebraskans for Civic Reform (NCR), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening civic education and community engagement, readying veterans for jobs and making elections more accessible.

After completing law school at UNL, Morfeld’s passionate advocacy with NCR eventually led him to a life-changing decision.

“I realized it was hypocritical of me to encourage other people to become more engaged in the process and not take on a more active role myself,” he said. “We need more young voices at the table.”

The new senator said balancing his professional commitments with his new role as a lawmaker has been challenging. He worries this is an obstacle to encouraging more young people to become involved in their state government.

“Not many junior associates can get six or seven months off to be a legislator. It is really tough to be a working Nebraskan and serve. Unfortunately, that means that our Legislature is not very representative of young Nebraskans,” he said.

While free time is hard to come by, Morfeld makes a concerted effort to “go off the grid” when he can as a back country camper. He relishes any opportunity to immerse himself in nature—“and not one of those campsites by the highway either,” he joked.

“Back country camping really makes you appreciate what you have and how little you need,” he said. “I’d much rather travel and see the world than have a lot of material things.”

Although he has a new title now, Morfeld maintains his mission to help young people become more civically engaged and keep elections open and honest.

“If people don’t understand the importance of engagement, then political accountability is all for naught,” Morfeld says. “It’s important for us to remember that young, diverse people can come together and find solutions to common problems.”

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