Youth Preparedness Council

Announcing the 2015 Youth Preparedness Council Members

FEMA is pleased to announce the members of the 2015-2016 National Youth Preparedness Council (Council).

Created in 2012, the Council brings together youth leaders from across the country that are interested in advocating on behalf of youth preparedness and making a difference in their communities. Each Council member will complete a self-selected legacy project during his or her term on the Council. Council members also will participate in the Youth Preparedness Council Summit, where they will share their ideas, opinions, and questions about youth disaster preparedness with the leadership of national organizations working on this critical priority. Council members will meet with FEMA staff members throughout their term to provide input on strategies, initiatives, and projects.

The members for 2015-2016 are as follows:

  • Council Chairperson: Obie Jones (FEMA Region VI, Texas) (returning)
  • Vice Chairperson: Weston Lee (FEMA Region VIII, Utah) (returning)
  • FEMA Region I: Bridget Smith (Connecticut) (returning)
  • FEMA Region II: James Collins (New Jersey) (returning)
  • FEMA Region III: Angelo DeGraff (Maryland)
  • FEMA Region III: Sahara Duncan (Pennsylvania) (returning)
  • FEMA Region IV: Matthew Mayfield (Alabama) (returning)
  • FEMA Region IV: Jonathan Salazar (Florida) (returning)
  • FEMA Region V: Isaiah Garcia (Michigan) (returning)
  • FEMA Region VI: Ty Zaunbrecher (Louisiana)
  • FEMA Region VII: Austin Witt (Iowa) (returning)
  • FEMA Region IX: Kiahna Lee Espia (Guam)
  • FEMA Region IX: Divakar Saini (California)
  • FEMA Region X: Hailey Starr (Washington)
  • FEMA Region X: Megan Stutzman (Oregon)

Check back throughout the year for updates on the Council’s progress!

About the Council

The FEMA Youth Preparedness Council was formed in 2012 to bring together youth leaders from across the country who are highly interested and engaged in advocating youth preparedness and making a difference in their communities. The Council members are selected based on their dedication to public service, their efforts in making a difference in their communities, and their potential to expand their impact as national advocates for youth preparedness.

The Council supports FEMA’s commitment to involving youth in preparedness-related activities and provides an avenue to engage the youth population, taking into account their perspectives, feedback, and opinions. This year’s Council members attended the Youth Preparedness Council Summit in July 2014, meet periodically with FEMA representatives, and are working to complete a number of projects.

The following profiles provide an overview of the Council members’ preparedness backgrounds, their work on current and completed projects, and any publicity they have received. To contact a member of the Youth Preparedness Council, please use the point of contact listed at the bottom of his or her profile.

 

2014 Youth Preparedness Council Member Biographies

Emily Rosenblum

Picture of Emily Rosenblum

Council Chair

Emily is a returning Council member and this year’s Council Chair. Her passion and dedication to emergency preparedness are demonstrated through her involvement with her local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and other community groups. For her first legacy project, Emily started a Teen CERT program at her high school. As a Teen CERT assistant instructor, Emily participates in numerous disaster exercises and is an active Teen CERT spokesperson. Emily always considers those with access and functional needs during disaster response exercises. She has volunteered hundreds of hours helping the Boy Scouts of America with merit badges and award requirements. Emily has also assisted with the “Sam, Ready I Am” program that educates youth about natural disaster hazards. Emily’s work has been featured in multiple news stories.

Projects

  • Serve as Chair for the Youth Preparedness Council
  • Create a nationwide competition to design a preparedness mascot or character

Projects from Last Year

  • Started a Teen CERT program in her school
  • Hung preparedness posters around her school
  • Spoke at Iowa’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Conference

Publicity

To reach Emily, please contact Regina Moran at Regina.Moran@fema.dhs.gov.
Bridget Smith

Photo of Bridget Smith

FEMA Region I (Connecticut)

Bridget is actively involved in the Girl Scouts, where she has sought to promote preparedness education. In fact, her Silver Award project focused on teaching preparedness and outdoor skills—such as building fires, tying knots, and pitching tents—to younger Girl Scouts. The event was called Brownie Outdoor Skills Day. Bridget is now planning a more advanced workshop for Junior Girl Scouts. Bridget is certified in First Aid and CPR, and as a Waterfront Lifeguard. She is also a Girl Scout Senior Outdoor Specialist. Bridget has directly experienced the importance of preparedness, especially through Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. Her house has lost power multiple times, and when the power goes out, her family loses water. They have learned to be thoroughly prepared, and Bridget has created a preparedness kit for her family. In addition to her work with the Girl Scouts, Bridget volunteers at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children, and she was awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Award – Silver Level in 2012.

Projects

  • A disaster preparedness exhibit for children that includes hands-on, interactive activities and workshops

 Publicity

To reach Bridget, please contact Donald Vincent at Donald.Vincent@fema.dhs.gov.

James Collins

Photo of James Collins

FEMA Region II (New Jersey)

James has experience across a range of disaster preparedness and response functions. He is a Lieutenant Explorer with the Millstone Township Fire Department’s Explorer program, where he leads 17 other Explorers. During Superstorm Sandy and the blizzard the following week, James was actively involved in response efforts with the Fire Department. James has experience responding to emergencies such as forest fires, structural fires, serious car accidents, and rescue assignments. He is both a New Jersey Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and an Eagle Scout. For his Eagle Scout project, James orchestrated the development of a half-mile nature trail, complete with benches. This project entailed working with a number of government agencies, thus honing James’ partnership skills in addition to his leadership skills. He also received an Emergency Preparedness merit badge for his efforts. James has attended the National Youth Leadership Training Program, the Junior Leadership Program, and the Patrol Leadership Skills Course.

Projects

  • Conduct a mass casualty incident training drill that simulates a plane crash
  • Plan the incident training through coordination with fire departments, EMS squads, the New Jersey State Police, FEMA, and other organizations
  • Include use of the Incident Command System and the National Incident Management System in the incident training drill

Publicity

To reach James, please contact Claire Thomas at Claire.Thomas@fema.dhs.gov.

Sophie Friedfeld-Gebaide
 Sophie Friedfeld-Gebaide

FEMA Region II (New York)

Sophie is a returning Council member. At the age of 12, she traveled with her family to Cedar Rapids to help with Mississippi flooding relief efforts. At such a young age, Sophie was already being recognized by All Hands, a volunteer organization, for her responsibility and volunteering abilities. After Hurricane Sandy, Sophie and several of her peers organized events that raised more than $37,000 for All Hands disaster relief funds. She donated a percentage of her Bat Mitzvah gifts to the organization. Sophie has been involved in organizing food and clothing drives for local shelters, and she has created a Facebook group to organize All Hands volunteers. Sophie also spoke at the Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism. For her legacy project, Sophie is planning a video competition called “Got Preparedness?” that will give youth the opportunity to research specific topics related to disasters and create videos that share the information with others.

Projects

  • Conduct the “Got Preparedness?” video competition, including promoting the competition on social media

Projects from Last Year

  • Started planning the “Got Preparedness?” video competition—a Facebook video competition for students in grades 7–12
  • Attended and spoke at the 2013 Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism with 2012– 2014 Council member Rachel Little

Publicity

To reach Sophie, please contact Claire Thomas at Claire.Thomas@fema.dhs.gov.

Sahara Duncan

Picture of Sahara Duncan

FEMA Region III (Pennsylvania)

Sahara has experience presenting on youth preparedness, as she has given preparedness presentations to Senior and Brownie Girl Scouts. As a longtime member of the Girl Scouts, Sahara has used her platform to teach young Girl Scouts about First Aid and the value of volunteering. She has also presented at an Operation Military Kids event where she spoke about the importance of community support and education as drivers of disaster preparedness. She has a strong commitment to community service and volunteered with the American Red Cross where she served as a mentor for inner-city youth. Sahara canvassed at-risk neighborhoods to spread the word about preparedness and the importance of smoke detectors. At one house fire in her community, Sahara was able to shadow the responders and provide “comfort kits” to the displaced residents. For her high school senior project, Sahara spoke to teachers at her school about the American Red Cross’ disaster preparedness programs.

Projects

  • Train to become an instructor for the American Red Cross Pillowcase Project
  • Implement the American Red Cross Pillowcase Project with local Girl Scout troops

Publicity

To reach Sahara, please contact Steve Edwards at Steve.Edwards@fema.dhs.gov.
Jonathan Salazar
Jonathan Salazar

FEMA Region IV (Florida)

Growing up in Florida, Jonathan is no stranger to natural disasters; he is a survivor of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. He is a devoted member of his Civil Air Patrol (CAP) squadron. In addition to trainings and simulations, Jonathan has participated in over 25 missions, during several of which he served as a team leader. He has played a role in supporting response to disasters across the country as a CAP Mission Staff Assistant. Jonathan’s efforts have included administrative support, such as photo processing and agency coordination. He provided such support in response to Hurricane Sandy and the Oklahoma tornadoes in 2013. Jonathan not only applies his training, but also seeks to share it with others. In fact, he ran a preparedness program through his CAP unit. His program included a competition to create the most efficient preparedness pack, asking participants to balance cost with quality. Jonathan has experience partnering with organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Police/Fire Explorers, Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), and CERT.

Projects

  • Conduct a mass casualty training exercise at a local military installation, simulating a chemical warfare attack
  • Hold a “Disaster Day” at a local high school to promote disaster preparedness

Publicity

To reach Jonathan, please contact Candace Burrell at Candace.Burrell@fema.dhs.gov.

Daniel Wernsman
Daniel Wernsman

FEMA Region V (Wisconsin)

Daniel is a returning Council member and has a track record of leadership at his school, in his community, and around the country. His connection to youth preparedness stems from his involvement in the Responding to Emergencies and Disasters with Youth (READY) club since 2009. Daniel has taken responsibility for several READY initiatives, including a project that teaches CPR to individuals and those at local schools. Daniel participated in the Department of Homeland Security’s Faith Based Conference “Creating a Culture of Preparedness Amongst Youth,” gave a presentation on first aid and triage to middle school students, and led an effort to collect personal items for a local homeless shelter. He also spoke at the Wisconsin School Crisis Preparedness Conference in November 2013. For his legacy project, he has started a READY club at his school. His READY club trained community members in automated external defibrillator (AED) use, CPR, and first aid. Daniel sent a letter to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker informing him about the mission of the Youth Preparedness Council.

Projects

  • Continue working with the READY club that he started
  • Organize a safety kit drive to support a local Pillowcase Project
  • Focus his AP Studio Art thesis on the topic of disaster preparedness

Projects from Last Year

  • Started a READY club at his school
  • Spoke at the Department of Homeland Security’s conference “Creating a Culture of Preparedness Amongst Youth” and the Fall 2013 Wisconsin School Crisis Preparedness Conference

Publicity

To reach Daniel, please contact Mary Rhedin at Mary.Rhedin@fema.dhs.gov.
Isaiah Garcia
Isaiah Garcia

FEMA Region V (Michigan)

Isaiah has grown up on the isolated Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The remote location, challenging weather, and potential security risks (the International Bridge and the Soo Locks) reinforce the importance of preparedness as a way of life. Isaiah is an active member of his community’s Teen CERT (and has completed both CERT Basic Training and Michigan’s Advanced CERT curriculum) and the Upward Bound program. Isaiah seeks out opportunities to share his preparedness knowledge with others. He was the lead speaker of a team that presented preparedness information to fourth graders. Before the presentation, the team wrote the script they would use and secured a grant to fund the program. Isaiah also took part in an Oktoberfest community event, distributing information and discussing preparedness with those attending the event. Isaiah has a particular interest in automated external defibrillator (AED) training. He wants to ensure that AEDs are available in the community and that others are trained how to use them.

Projects

  • Help implement Smart 911 in his area

Publicity

To reach Isaiah, please contact Mary Rhedin at Mary.Rhedin@fema.dhs.gov.

Obie Jones
Obie Jones

Region VI (Texas)

Obie has already started a Teen CERT program at his high school and is the president elect for the 2014- 2015 school year. The program is now offered as a for-credit class, and he serves as a teaching assistant. Obie shared his experience at the Texas Unites Emergency Preparedness Conference, where he spoke about bringing CERT into schools. Obie’s community involvement does not end with Teen CERT; he is also an Eagle Scout and a member of the Austin Police Department Explorer program. In the summer of 2013, he was the Search and Rescue Supervisor at Boy Scout camp, during which he managed both drills and an actual search and rescue mission. Obie also has a commitment to animal preparedness and response and received an Animal in Disasters Certificate in 2013. After a flood, he assisted Austin Animal Service Protection Officers as they rescued and sheltered animals. Obie’s accomplishments include having received Incident Command System training and a Gold Presidential Service Award in 2013.

Projects

  • Work with the youth preparedness council of Region VI to begin creating youth preparedness councils for each state within his region

Publicity

To reach Obie, please contact Bill Bischof at Bill.Bischof@fema.dhs.gov.

Austin Witt

Austin Witt

Region VII (Iowa)

Austin was an active member of his county’s CERT program, where he took on leadership roles such as CERT Team Captain (managing seven people) and Vice President of the CERT Board of Directors. He even began the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status for the CERT program. Austin’s experience extends beyond the administrative to real-life response efforts such as his participation in a search-and-rescue mission. He also helped distribute bottled water to his town’s residents for three days when a boil alert was issued in response to flooding. Austin was further involved in community engagement: he participated with 4-H; he was the Senior Class President; he volunteered at the YMCA; and he volunteered with a local newspaper. Austin is now in college, and he is a volunteer EMT with New Sharon Fire & Rescue.

Projects

  • Gather funds and donations to distribute weather radios to low-income households
  • Start a statewide Teen CERT program

Publicity

To reach Austin, please contact Thomas Morgan at Thomas.Morgan5@fema.dhs.gov.

Matthew Mayfield
Matthew Mayfield

Region VIII (Colorado)

Matthew has been involved in community preparedness since early childhood; his family is actively involved in the preparedness and response community. Matthew spent his early years attending trainings and classes, and he has become so knowledgeable that he has already begun to assist with instruction. He regularly presented fire and life safety information at his school and across Colorado. He has completed firefighter and hazardous materials operation training. In 2012, Matthew assisted Teller County with logistical and fire patrol operations during a series of arson fires. After supporting response to the Hayman Fire, Matthew became particularly interested in fire preparedness and involved in the Firewise program. He developed preparedness materials, distributed hundreds of information packets, and presented the information at events throughout the community. Matthew has moved to Alabama where he has joined a local Fire Explorers program.

Projects

  • Start a program about fire and life safety with his Fire Explorers lieutenant
  • Help create an intranet page about preparedness for the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Publicity

To reach Matthew, please contact Daniel Nyquist at Daniel.Nyquist@fema.dhs.gov.

Weston Lee
Weston Lee

FEMA Region VIII (Utah)

Weston is deeply involved with the American Red Cross. He is a member of a Disaster Action team and the Northern Utah Board of Directors. He also serves on the Utah Region Youth Leadership Committee as a Co-Chair for Disaster Preparedness and Response. In his position, he plans and manages several preparedness-related meetings and trainings for the Youth Services program. Each year, they are able to hold a disaster services training specifically for youth in the state of Utah. This allows them to respond to local disasters—and provide food, clothing, and shelter if needed in the event of a disaster. Weston is trained as an Adult and Pediatric First Aid, CPR, and AED Instructor and as a Nursing Assistant. Weston is a member of his school district’s Student Response Team, trained to respond to disasters or other traumatic events that may impact the school or community. As part of his school’s HOSA: Future Health Professionals club, Weston is actively involved in the Childhood Hunger initiative. The initiative helps elementary school children who do not have access to enough food at home by providing food for them to take home from school each weekend. He is also engaged in implementing the National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education in his HOSA chapter and in his community.

Projects

  • Teach and facilitate the Pillowcase Project
  • Work with other youth interested in becoming Pillowcase Project instructors and disaster responders with the American Red Cross
  • Work to possibly create a Utah Youth Preparedness Council with former Council member Ashley Houston
  • Implement the National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education in local HOSA chapters by encouraging youth to start and engage in preparedness-related activities 
  • Start a Teen CERT program in his city

Publicity

To reach Weston, please contact Daniel Nyquist at Daniel.Nyquist@fema.dhs.gov.
Brittany Amano
Brittany Amano

Region IX (Hawaii)

Brittany has an extensive background in community service and volunteerism. She has established two nonprofits, Hawaii’s Future Isn’t Hungry and Teens Stopping Domestic Violence, as well as an anti-bullying program, BullyED. During tsunami warnings and flooding, Brittany has taken responsibility for assisting individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs in her apartment building. Brittany takes a particular interest in assisting disadvantaged individuals, and she took part in publishing a cookbook with recipes tailored to those with low incomes. Brittany has been widely recognized as a leader in volunteerism and presented at TEDxHonolulu on the topic of youth community involvement. In addition, Brittany serves as a member of the Hawaii Future Caucus and the Hawaii Meth Project Teen Advisory Council.

Projects

  • Create a Hawaii State Youth Preparedness Council
  • Raise money for the Hawaii Youth Preparedness Council members to travel to planning sessions
  • Hold outreach events and conduct the Pillowcase Project
  • Started a statewide Red Cross club
  • Met with various state legislators about a leadership conference in April or May that would have a session about preparedness

Publicity

To reach Brittany, please contact Bill Kuhn at William.Kuhn@fema.dhs.gov.
Navjot Hansra

Navjot Hansra

FEMA Region IX (California)

Navjot is deeply involved with the American Red Cross, and she is the founder and President of the American Canyon Red Cross Club. She is also a member of the Red Cross National Youth Council. Through the Red Cross, Navjot became involved in community events such as a Police and Fire Open House, where she ran a booth and taught participants about disaster preparedness, CPR, and first aid. She also managed a project to organize her town’s emergency response trailers. Within her school, Navjot led an effort to get first aid kits and emergency cases of water into every classroom. She raised money for the first aid kits and secured a donation for the cases of water. Navjot has shared preparedness information with younger students by running a preparedness assembly at a local elementary school. She ran earthquake and fire drills, and she taught the students about creating a preparedness kit. Navjot is trained in CPR/First Aid, CERT, and Disaster Action Team (DAT); she volunteers at a local hospital; and she is an Honorary Commissioner with the American Canyon City Council Parks and Community Services Commission.

Projects

  • Act as liaison between the FEMA and American Red Cross youth councils, increasing collaboration
  • Promote the American Red Cross Pillowcase Project and train as an instructor for the program

Publicity

To reach Navjot, please contact Bill Kuhn at William.Kuhn@fema.dhs.gov.
Raylene Ensminger

Raylene Ensminger

FEMA Region X (Washington)

Raylene is actively involved with her Tribal Emergency Management and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) program. She has completed both CERT training and the CERT Train-the-Trainer course. Since then, Raylene has assisted with teaching CERT classes in conjunction with the Northwest Tribal Emergency Management Council. She understands firsthand the importance of preparedness, as a windstorm knocked out electricity and water for weeks on the reservation where she lives. She is highly involved in the community and supports a variety of events and initiatives, including festivals and immunization outreach. Raylene works with the Tribal Summer Youth Program and has supported the Northwest Tribal Emergency Management Conference. She is also involved with the National Tribal Emergency Management Council conference, where she looked to expand the youth track.

Projects

  • Conduct the Pillowcase Project with elementary school-aged children

Publicity

To reach Raylene, please contact Bryant Harrison at Bryant.Harrison@fema.dhs.gov.

 

Last updated: 05/19/2015 - 12:10 PM