University of Nevada Cooperative Extension partners with innovative national award-winning youth preparedness initiative, MyPI National

Fire Supression

MyPI NV instructors practice fire suppression

This week at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) Office in Las Vegas, NV, the initial delegation of instructors within the Nevada Youth Preparedness Initiative, MyPI Nevada, completed a comprehensive certification and training workshop led by the MyPI National Coordination Team, and became the thirteenth state to train instructors under the national project umbrella.  According to Réshard Wilson, the MyPI Nevada Program Coordinator and UNCE Community Based Instructor, “My initial attraction to this dynamic program was two-fold.  First, as instructors, we have the opportunity to help youth improve their leadership, decision-making and critical thinking skills as well as increase their self-confidence and self-efficacy.  Secondly, the mechanism of learning emergency preparedness techniques to build these leadership qualities is phenomenal.”  Added Wilson, “Participants improve and learn skills to assist them in their path of individual success, but they have the opportunity to acquire skills to make them better civic leaders by aiding their community in times of crises and disasters.  They can become assets to community resilience.  Through MyPI Nevada, we are growing community leaders and engaged citizens.  MyPI will train youth to keep themselves and their families, friends, and community members safe in times of emergency.  Participants will not only gain a valuable response skillset, but they will network with subject matter expects who will expose them to information that could spark an interest in possible career paths as well as provide them with skills to bolster resumes as well as job and college applications.  And that is just one beneficial pieces that make up this great program.”

Over the next 12 months, MyPI Nevada will be offering this innovative and engaging youth preparedness program to teens who will assist families and communities 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, strengthening youth leadership, communication skills, teamwork, decision making, self-esteem, civic responsibility, and empowerment, along with family communication and cohesion. “One of the underlying missions of MyPI National is to reboot youth preparedness across this country, to capitalize on the energy of our youth, and to set the new standard for how we engage our teens in sustained preparedness endeavors as we move forward in the face of a variety of threats and hazards that we continue to see on seemingly a daily basis.  We have seen fantastic success for several years in Mississippi and have now begun to see the same impact within our partners under the MyPI National umbrella.  As our MyPI National team works with MyPI Nevada instructors over the next 12 months, we will continue the process of fostering relationships and networks that will hopefully ensure the success of this program for years to come, which is yet another very achievable outcome and one that this great state and its citizens, families, and communities deserve,” said Dr. C. Ryan Akers, MyPI National Project Director and MyPI Mississippi Program Coordinator. 

Mississippi Citizen Corps State Program Manager and Lead Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Instructor for MyPI National, Dave Nichols, added, “As a CERT Instructor, it is interesting to see the different dynamics each new group of instructors brings to the table.  It has been no different here in Nevada.  I am looking forward to see what this group of MyPI instructors does within the realm of youth preparedness and youth leadership here in the Silver State.  They have quite an opportunity ahead of them to make a real difference in the lives of young people and to ready these youth, their families, and their communities for emergencies and disasters.  I believe that they will seize that opportunity and do just that.”                

MyPI Nevada is a component of the National Youth Preparedness Initiative, MyPI National, a partnership of 18 states and 1 US territory.  MyPI National Phase 1 began by delivering the MyPI model to teenagers across Nebraska, Hawaii, New Jersey, Washington, Illinois, Tennessee, Virginia, and Mississippi.  In September of 2017, MyPI National was awarded the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual and Community Preparedness national award for “Outstanding Achievement in Youth Preparedness.”  Capitalizing on program success and momentum, MyPI National began a Phase 2 expansion of the program which enabled the inclusion of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas, South Dakota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, and the first US territory to be represented, Guam. 

Regarding Nevada, Akers stated, “Our MyPI National Coordination team has travelled to all corners of the nation with this project and I can confidently say that the MyPI instructors in Nevada have displayed a level of passion, engagement, and motivation that is characteristic of our most productive partners.  At the National level, it certainly makes administering this program and being a program incubator so much easier and more enjoyable when you have a cohesive unit that already has a vision for delivering MyPI.  Nevada families and their communities, starting in Las Vegas and Clark County, are in for a treat on multiple levels due to the work of these great professionals and preparedness advocates.  Much like their colleagues across the nation, the instructors in Nevada truly exude a passion to change lives and to educate their communities, particularly their teens.  It was indeed a pleasure for the MyPI National team to be here this week.  The instructors and the Program Coordinator will prove to be a great asset for our overall program goals and will guide the state program with the motivation and zest that we have come to expect and that our program demands.  We are excited about this great partnership with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and look forward to seeing the program become a true statewide outreach campaign.  I anticipate fantastic growth as MyPI Nevada takes root, progresses and flourishes across the state in large part because of their efforts and dedication.”

Added Akers, “MyPI offers a tremendous, multi-faceted approach to youth preparedness with rich learning and leadership opportunities for teens and enhanced preparedness levels for families and communities.  There is a definitive focus and energy necessary as we move into the next phase of MyPI Nevada, where the real work is done and the real impact is seen. On a personal and a professional level, I look forward to seeing these new instructors respond to the challenge and become the catalyst for positive change and impact.  It is clear from this week that the instructors 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, which is wonderful to see.  We expect a positive impact for all involved here and will continue to work with the instructors, the Program Coordinator, and community partners to ensure its success over the long-term.”     

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.   

DeShea Wallace, who serves as the 4-H Program Community Based Instructor for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, is among the newly certified MyPI Nevada instructors and will soon be delivering the program locally.  According to Wallace, “MyPI is allowing students to become a part of something much bigger then themselves.  The program empowers teens to take action and to be an integral part of their community by contributing to the safety of their family and their community.”  Wallace added, “The leadership and service opportunities are what really grabbed my attention when I first learned about the program because those are such critical components in 4-H programming.  However, after hearing more about the program, I think it is so important for today’s students to know the important information about what to do in the event of a disaster, whether natural or human-caused.  I would strongly advocate any interested teens to seek this program out.  The knowledge gained in this program will impact them across their lifespan.  They could potentially save a life and prevent further injuries.  They also can discover potential career paths.  Completion of this program will truly give our youth a tremendous sense of accomplishment as well as civic responsibility and pride.”    

According to Willie Daugherty, another newly certified MyPI Nevada instructor who also serves as a Program Officer for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, “MyPI is a very interactive and engaging program for all involved.  For students, the program develops life and leadership skills that are necessary for future leaders to thrive.  Our youth learn how to prepare for emergencies and disasters and how to assist their families and communities in the preparedness process and resiliency.  It is indeed a wonderful program and opportunity for our teens, our communities, and our state.  The impact will be felt through invaluable life skills enhancement, increased individual, family, and community preparedness as well as career exploration, and preparation for the workforce.”      

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 Nevada, including areas of the state that the program will be delivered initially, please visit the MyPI Nevada website at http://mypinevada.org or contact Réshard Wilson, MyPI Nevada Program Coordinator at wilsonr@unce.unr.edu or 702-940-5427.  For more information regarding MyPI National, please visit the MyPI National website at http://mypinational.extension.msstate.edu or contact Dr. Ryan Akers, MyPI National Project Director 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 Nevada and My PI National respectively, and Twitter feeds can be found by searching @MyPI_NV and @MyPI_National.