Washington Citizen Corps and CERT programs join innovative national youth preparedness partnership, MyPI National

Fire Supression

MyPI WA instructors practice fire suppression.


This week in University Place, WA, the initial delegation of instructors within the Washington Youth Preparedness Initiative, MyPI Washington, completed a comprehensive certification and training workshop led by the MyPI National Coordination Team, and became the third state to train instructors under the national project umbrella.  According to Paula Towne, Washington Citizen Corps and CERT Program Manager, “The recent Cascadia Rising exercise demonstrated that the residents of the state of Washington are not prepared for a disaster.  A large, and often under-represented portion of those unprepared are our youth in the 13-19 year old age group.  MyPI Washington is a program that will provide these youth the opportunity to learn what they can do to prepare themselves, their families, and other members of the community.  This program will give them the tools that will help them to not only survive a major disaster but to help their family members and neighbors also survive.”   


Over the next 18 months, MyPI Washington will be offering an innovative and engaging youth preparedness program to approximately 125 teens and reaching approximately 875 families across the state.  This program, based on a national award winning model delivered in Mississippi through the Mississippi State University Extension Service and Mississippi Citizen Corps, enhances individual, family, and community preparedness for disasters while at the same time, strengthens youth leadership, communication skills, teamwork, decision making, self-esteem, civic responsibility, and empowerment, along with family communication and cohesion. “When I was asked if I wanted to help bring MyPI to Washington, I didn’t think twice.  I have been so excited to present this opportunity to our youth-serving partners and our local CERT partners and see how much support they are ready to provide to make this program a success in Washington,” noted Towne.  “As our National team works with Paula and the rest of the instructors over the next 18 months, we will continue to foster relationships and networks that will ensure MyPI Washington’s success for years to come, which is really what the youth and the great people of this state deserve,” said Dr. Ryan Akers, MyPI National and MyPI Mississippi Project Director.  Mississippi Citizen Corps State Program Manager and Lead CERT Instructor for MyPI National, Dave Nichols, added, “It was great to meet and train the next group of MyPI Instructors here in Washington.  Their passion for youth and for individual, family, and community preparedness across this great state was very apparent and I am looking forward to seeing their progress in delivering this award winning youth preparedness and leadership program.”  Nichols, who was born in Washington, added “It’s a comforting thought to know that youth in the land of my birth will now have skills and knowledge that will help protect themselves, their families, and other members of these communities.” 

MyPI Washington is a component of the National Youth Preparedness Initiative, MyPI National, a partnership of eight pilot states delivering the MyPI curriculum to teenagers across Nebraska, Hawaii, New Jersey, Washington, Illinois, Tennessee, Virginia, and Mississippi.  Capitalizing on success and momentum, MyPI National recently received federal funding for a Phase 2 expansion of the program which enables the inclusion of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas, South Dakota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, and the first U.S. Territory to be represented, Guam.  Regarding Washington, Akers stated, “We are excited to partner with the Washington Citizen Corps and Washington CERT programs and excited to see MyPI Washington progress and flourish across the state.  It is an exciting program that offers rich learning and leadership opportunities for teens and enhanced preparedness levels for families and communities across this great state.  We have trained a great group of instructors here this week.  The focus and energy displayed by this initial cohort gives me great confidence as we move into the next phase of MyPI Washington, which where the real work is done. It is abundantly clear to everyone on my team that the instructors here have a strong passion for disaster education and preparedness, the development of their youth and safety of their families, and the livelihood of these communities.”     

For students in the eight states, the MyPI model offers a flexible 5 to 10 week, three component program.  In Component A, teenagers will complete the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency-certified Teen CERT training and corresponding modules focusing on Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety and Utility Control, Disaster Medical Operations, Light Search and Rescue, CERT Organization, Disaster Psychology, and Terrorism and CERT.  In Component B, the Add-On Catalog features certification in CPR and AED usage, along with a technology track comprised of awareness programs focusing on HAM Radio, NOAA Weather Radio, Smoke Alarm Maintenance, and Smart Phone App and Social Media in Emergency Preparedness.  The Add-On Catalog also includes a Disaster simulation, and a Career Track that focuses on public safety, fire service, and emergency management careers.  The final element of the program, Component C, includes a comprehensive family and community service project entitled PREP + 6 in which each participant helps develop emergency supply kits and emergency communication plans for their family AND 6 additional families or households. This component allows for significant enhancement in individual, family, and community preparedness and resilience.  To graduate from the program, students must complete all components.  Janeen Olson, who represents the city of Redmond Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management, is one of a newly certified MyPI Washington instructors.  “MyPI has been thoroughly researched and developed to provide a high caliber, three part program designed to educate our teems about individual, family, and community preparedness, build leadership skills, and impact their community with a capstone service project of requiring them to assist seven families with their own preparedness efforts.  I’m excited to be a part of this program as an instructor and would encourage others to do the same.  I believe it is every adult’s responsibility to instill to our youth the culture of preparedness and strength in the face of adversity.  MyPI will greatly assist in this endeavor, not only in the preparedness for all hazards but also in the service to others in their community,” noted Olson.   

The partnering states in MyPI National are replicating the model created and delivered in Mississippi.  In 2014, the Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative was named FEMA’s national award winner for Outstanding Youth Preparedness program. It also received an Honorable Mention recognition for “Preparing the Whole Community.” In 2015, MyPI Mississippi was named one of the first entities to be named an official Affirmer of the new National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education. As such, MyPI is an engaged and recognized component of a nationally supported, progressive approach to preparing youth for emergencies and disasters.  MyPI National is also recognized as an Affirmer of the national strategy.

For additional information regarding MyPI Washington, including the areas of the state that the program will be delivered in the initial deliveries, please visit the MyPI Washington website at mypiwashington.org or contact Paula Towne, MyPI Washington Program Coordinator at Paula.towne@ofm.wa.gov or 360-725-5290.  For more information regarding MyPI National, please visit the MyPI National website at mypinational.extension.msstate.edu or contact Dr. Ryan Akers, MyPI National Project Coordinator at cra20@msstate.edu or 662.325.5914.  You may also reference both projects on social media platforms.  Facebook profiles can be found by searching My PI Washington and My PI National respectively, and Twitter handles can be found by searching @MyPI_WA and @MyPI_National.