FEMA: Youth as a Part of Whole Community Preparedness

In this FEMA podcast, FEMA talks to Pacific Northwest emergency managers and a member of the FEMA National Youth Preparedness Council (Hsin Ya Huang) about making preparedness a part of schools and communities.

FEMA Region X Youth Preparedness Council members Hsin Ya Huang (left) and Madeline Ortiz

I’m Scott Zaffram and I’m the Federal Preparedness Coordinator for FEMA region 10. And I am one of the visionaries for the youth disaster preparedness camp that we’re doing. This really started off over a number of years ago as our agency tries to build a culture or preparedness and build capacity for a catastrophic event. And the idea is, is that how can we build generational support within our communities on engaging youth because they should be part of the solution. And when disasters happen, and it’s not just full large scale disasters, it’s also localized emergencies, but how do we really tap into the skill sets that these youth bring to the table? How do we take advantage of their motivation to be able to support these disasters that happen in their backyard? And then more so how do they become a force multiplier and working with local officials whether it’s a state, county, or local administration, and then try to spread the word of preparedness and how do we build a preparedness within the community and that resiliency that comes with it…

The whole idea is to try to provide them a little life critical life saving skills, right? Things like CPR and really an another understanding of what a threatened hazard might look like to them right in their backyard. And it doesn’t have to be a flood or a catastrophic earthquake. It could be something as simple as a household struggling to be able to make ends meet and then when a disaster does happen and stresses that that even more what are the values that and financial baselines that really allow for a family or an individual to save for a rainy day. So that’s not a surprise. And also to give them a little bit of an education that goes well beyond what they might typically think of as being a disaster. Right? Things from volcanoes in the Pacific northwest, we have a lot of volcanoes. Lahars come with that ash. I would also say that perhaps flooding that they have seen in the past, right. …We may have new flooding that develops and areas that we had never thought before. You know, extreme temperatures. So these are the things we want to wrap their heads around and really understand that it’s not just localized to the most catastrophic earthquake or floods or things that they have seen in their, in their backyard before, but new things…

FEMA Seeks Applicants for Youth Preparedness Council

FEMA is seeking students in 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th grades to apply to join the Youth Preparedness Council.



Students in 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grade who have engaged in community service, or are interested in emergency preparedness, are encouraged to apply to serve on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s, Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Youth Preparedness Council.

The application is available online. Applicants must complete the application form and submit two letters of recommendation and their academic records.

Applications are due March 31. To start your online application, click here. You can also download the application and submit a PDF copy of the application here.

Youth Preparedness Council

FEMA created the Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) in 2012 to bring together young leaders who are interested in supporting disaster preparedness and making a difference in their communities, by completing disaster preparedness projects nationally and locally. The YPC supports FEMA’s commitment to involve America’s youth in preparedness-related activities. It also provides an avenue to engage young people by taking into account their perspectives, feedback, and opinions.

YPC members meet with FEMA staff throughout their term to provide input on strategies, initiatives, and projects. YPC members also attend the annual YPC Summit in Washington, DC, meet periodically with FEMA representatives, and work to complete a number of emergency preparedness projects.