Hunter Tobey is a rising high school senior with a dual enrollment at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s Emergency Management Program. He also serves on the FEMA Region 1 Youth Preparedness Council. Hunter received the President’s Volunteer Service Award – Gold Level from FEMA for serving his community in emergency preparedness efforts. He also received the Douglas Neff Leadership Award through his service in the Civil Air Patrol and was honored to be selected for the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
This past year, Hunter continued to stay involved in his community while social distancing. He participated in his town’s Public School Re-Opening Committee to use CDC pandemic guidelines to develop a hybrid learning model. He volunteered in the Emergency Operations Center at his tribe’s Emergency Management Department with managing personal protective equipment inventory and preparing emergency supplies for tribal elders. FEMA’s Tribal Liaison Officer selected Hunter as a panelist for a virtual event “Resilience: from Contact to COVID-19” as part of American Indian Heritage month.
During his first year on the council, Hunter’s first project was to present a tornado preparedness webinar. The webinar included federal, state, and local public safety agencies discussing response efforts to this type of a disaster. This was an excellent opportunity to discuss solutions to different barriers and offer collaboration between agencies. Hunter continues to work closely with his tribal community and FEMA leaders in addressing emergency preparedness measures. His commitment goes a long way in ensuring the safety and well-being of the residents within his community.
Ranjana (Jaanu) is a rising junior from Massachusetts. Jaanu combines her inimitable love for biology and policy with her passion for service by exploring the human health, climate, and equity-based aspects of preparedness.
The Red Cross’ goal of “turning compassion into action” resonates deeply with Jaanu; she is an active member of the American Red Cross and serves as a lead volunteer for their biomedical and disaster services. Additionally, she is a Red Cross Blood Donor Ambassador and a member of the national scheduling team. Jaanu enjoys volunteering at community clinics and preparedness events such as the Bike Safety Rodeo as a Medical Reserve Corps youth member, representing the Upper Valley, a capacity in which she works to promote unity and equity through voluntary biomedical service. Through the MRC, Jaanu is CPR, First Aid, and AED certified.
Jaanu is a graduated top cadet of the Lowell Student Police Academy. She is also a youth lead member in the U.S. Office of the Sudanese American Medical Association (SAMA). Jaanu works with SAMA’s executive board to support humanitarian efforts, medical training, and partnerships with UNICEF in Sudan. She also serves as a Young Reviewer for Frontiers for Young Minds, a scientific journal based in Geneva, Switzerland. At school, Jaanu is president of the class of 2023 and hopes to work with local administrators to teach FAST to high school students. She wants Stop the Bleed to reach more of her peers.
Jaanu’s attention to current events, including the 2015 floods in South India, the recent North American wildfires, and the COVID-19 pandemic, served to pique her interest in emergency preparedness. Jaanu hopes to learn more about FEMA’s history of building preparedness in communities and about ways to take action and facilitate change as a student. As a council member, she hopes also to work with the Red Cross and FEMA in promoting psychological first aid training and the importance of mental wellness, and to research accessibility of preparedness resources in disadvantaged communities.
Megan is a rising senior from New York. She was a member of the FEMA Region 2 Youth Preparedness Council for two years and she is passionate about animal care and financial resilience. She partnered with her local ASPCA animal shelter to create and deliver pet preparedness training programs at local elementary schools. She also worked with fellow council members to develop financial preparedness curricula for seniors in high school and incoming college students. In addition, she volunteered to help plan, organize and execute a virtual joint Region 1 and Region 2 YPC Summit in Fall 2020. Lastly, Megan volunteered to assist with an interagency mass casualty exercise at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she earned the Commander’s coin for her exceptional service.
In addition to her preparedness activities, Megan is a competitive swimmer and volunteer swim instructor. She hopes to combine her swimming background and prior FEMA experience to raise awareness about water safety during natural disasters by partnering with stakeholders such as the American Red Cross. As a member of the council, she hopes to help reduce the high number of drownings that occur nationwide during disasters like hurricanes and flash floods by offering a joint program through swim lessons on key disaster preparedness and water safety skills.
Mirika is a rising junior from New Jersey. Her passion for emergency preparedness sparked from her involvement with Civil Air Patrol. Mirika is one of the leaders of the Emergency Services program for a squadron of over 115 cadets, which has led to her to self-study for various emergency preparedness certifications from FEMA. She is also CPR/First Aid certified and is working towards becoming an EMT. Mirika strives to give back to her community and make a positive impact in the lives of others. Additionally, she serves on her congressman's Youth Advisory Council, the New Jersey Girl Up Executive Board, and is currently working on her Gold Award as a Girl Scout Senior. She is an active editor and writer for her school's publications and part of the Quizbowl team at school. Outside of school, Mirika likes to read, bike, and swim.
Overall, Mirika would like to make emergency preparedness more inclusive during her time on the council. Mirika hopes to create events in her community to educate students and underrepresented groups on preparing for emergencies and natural disasters. Combining her interests, she would also like to use her technology skills to help create resources for non-native English speakers and make emergency planning more inclusive.
Beitris is a rising junior in Maryland. She previously lived in Alaska, where she became involved in disaster preparedness after a 7.1 earthquake threatened her community in November 2018. It was her second day in the new city when her family had to evacuate their home very early in the morning due to the earthquake and the possibility of a tsunami. When her family had to evacuate, none of them knew what to do. Luckily, the tsunami never came, but the experience reminded her how important preparedness is. Before living in Alaska, Beitris lived in Virginia and developed an interest in disaster preparedness after experiencing Hurricane Sandy. However, after the tsunami alarm, her passion for preparedness grew.
Beitris attended FEMA Region 10’s disaster preparedness summer camp and spent a year on the FEMA Region 10 Youth Preparedness Council. On the regional council, Beitris worked on projects promoting COVID-19 awareness and travel safety, and she shared examples from her family's experience with Hurricane Sandy and the tsunami evacuation.
Since moving to Maryland, Beitris has become active in her school’s Red Cross Club, Environmental Club, Ocean Bowl team, and volleyball team. Additionally, she helped create two non-profits, Sports 4 Students and Karing 4 Kenya, and also runs a tutoring program for middle schoolers.
Beitris’s goal on the council is to work with other members to bring awareness to the importance of mental health with disaster preparedness and to increase preparedness education resources and opportunities for teenagers. Due to moving often, Beitris has attended quite a few schools and none taught the students about disaster preparedness or first aid beyond a CPR training in health class. Beitris wants other kids to have more in-depth knowledge of preparedness and resources so they and their families can be better prepared for disasters they may experience.
Nyl is an incoming college freshman from Alabama. His interests in emergency preparedness started early in the fourth grade when he distributed FEMA’s “Prepare with Pedro” disaster preparedness activity books and preparedness materials to his classmates after surviving a 2011 tornado that hit Alabama. Prior to becoming a member of the Youth Preparedness Council, he launched his “Get Backpack Ready with Nyl” emergency preparedness campaign in 2017. Nyl has traveled with his campaign to work with communities, schools, and civic organizations in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida to teach people how to build disaster preparedness kits. He was recognized as a Warrior Strong Student at his high school. He is also involved in varsity and community sports while holding memberships with the American Red Cross, 4-H Club, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence (DST-EMBODI) program, Kappa League Male Mentoring program, as well as positions as a national and regional officer with Top Teens of America and the National Association of Black Engineers Jr.
As a member of the YPC, Nyl continues to expand his current preparedness backpack campaign while working to establish a stronger teen participation in emergency response efforts by including a Teen CERT program in his “Get Backpack Ready with Nyl” campaign. He is finalizing the launch of two additional preparedness campaigns. He hopes to partner with state and local stakeholders as well as government and tribal officials to build a broadcast social media platform to elevate awareness about emergency preparedness, highlighting student readiness in school and community settings.
Aubrey Dockins is a rising junior from Florida and is completing an AICE diploma, which is equivalent to college level material. Emergency preparedness has always been important to Aubrey, especially hurricanes, because of their yearly impact to her state. Whether it’s creating a hurricane Girl Scouts badge, recording weather segments, or sharing the findings of her personal weather station on the internet, meteorology and disaster preparedness have always been a huge part of Aubrey’s life. She also expanded her knowledge by completing a few of FEMA’s independent study courses. Aubrey is also interested in marching band and history, spending hours each week pursuing these interests.
Currently, she is focusing on making emergency preparedness more accessible to those with disabilities. She has been setting up a program in her area that teaches teenagers and young adults with disabilities what to do in the event of a disaster. As a member of the Youth Preparedness Council, Aubrey would like to expand this effort to a national level—perhaps developing a school curriculum for special education classrooms in order to help students be more independent and to know what to do in case of a disaster.
Devangana is an incoming college freshman from Illinois. Her passion lies in her community, where she works to bring a positive change through education and youth empowerment. She was President of Key Club at her high school, a capacity in which she coordinated a fundraiser for the Thirst Project, a non-profit organization providing water to countries impacted by natural disasters. Devangana has also interned with the Indo-German Biodiversity Program in India, where she researched communicating the importance of forest ecosystem services to local villagers in the Indian Himalayan Region.
During her first year on the Youth Preparedness Council, Devangana organized a disaster-preparedness fair in conjunction with an art workshop for 40 children in her neighborhood. The children received FEMA’s “Prepare with Pedro” disaster preparedness activity books, “Ready 2 Help” games, disaster-preparedness pamphlets, and art supplies in tote bags that Devangana designed. She also aided in organizing national webinars for the Region 5 “Safety Matters” series.
In the second year of her term on the YPC, she aims to create a collaborative forum where youth globally can share experiences with natural disasters and provide vital information and best practices to others on preparing and responding to disasters.
Vishnu is a rising senior from Indiana. He is passionate about serving youth experiencing homelessness and served as a youth tutor through School on Wheels, a non-profit organization dedicated to tutoring children experiencing homelessness. He was invited to present on the Schools on Wheels program to sponsors and fundraisers for school supplies, and Vishnu strongly believes that education plays a large part in combating homelessness. During his first year on the Region 5 Youth Preparedness Council, Vishnu started a Teen CERT program at his high school. He successfully hosted CERT trainings for his peers with local emergency management officials and CERT volunteers. He is a certified hands-only CPR instructor for the American Red Cross and has led many outreach activities. He also conducted a disaster mapping training for adults through the American Red Cross. Vishnu has already served one year on the national YPC, where he successfully led a preparedness webinar with two speakers from the Transportation Security Administration and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
Vishnu hopes to find new ways to provide opportunities for youth as well as the underprivileged community to learn more about emergency preparedness. He believes that if you start early in teaching people about emergency preparedness, then it will significantly impact their lives. He also wants to help connect youth to resources they did not know about and give underprivileged communities access to the education they need related to emergency preparedness.
Amira is an incoming junior from Texas. This year, Texas experienced the worst disaster to hit in decades – a winter storm – unprepared. Her dedication to preparedness stems from seeing first-hand its influence on people’s situations before, during and after the winter storm and other disasters. She firmly believes disasters happen when preparation does not. When leading a school art program, Amira’s emergency training emphasized the importance of ensuring everyone’s safety. That’s why her work targets marginalized communities where preparedness lacks.
To Amira, preparedness is educating generations and making places for them to succeed where others have fallen. Safety and knowledge are her main areas of focus. Most of her work centers local communities, so she is excited to branch into national projects. Amira started an online tutoring program called “Saturday Sessions with Amira” and partnered with a tutoring program to teach children from the safety of their homes and encourage education and knowledge.
Amira knows shelter is a basic need. Unfortunately, not everyone has shelter in terrible situations. She wants to work with FEMA to make sure communities have the places to find resources in the event of disasters. On the Youth Preparedness Council, Amira aims to increase her knowledge through CERT and fellow members’ insight. Her goal of service on this council is to equip generations by building safer communities through knowledge and training for disasters. On a national level, she wants to help in areas of chemical and pollution safety in buildings. Locally, Amira hopes to educate about safety and preparedness in uncommon natural events, like snowstorms in Texas.
Alexia is a rising senior pursuing an International Baccalaureate diploma in Missouri. Alexia applies the principle of servant leadership through her active participation on the Student Life Advisory Committee of her school system’s board of education, in the board of directors for her city’s FOCUS program, in the cabinet of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, and on the Student Advisory Board of Girls Learn International. She is an apprentice for the Teens Make History program of the Missouri Historical Society and a soprano with her city’s children’s choir.
Alexia is interested in access to resources, ensuring equity for vulnerable populations, and communications transparency in emergency preparedness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she acquired knowledge and experience in these areas through work with various groups and organizations from local to national levels, including Link Crew at school, the Youth Empowerment Program of the University of Missouri, the Greater Good Initiative, and the U.S. Youth Ambassadors Program of the U.S. Department of State. Alexia was involved in planning emergency preparedness activities as resource drives for in-need families and youth peer-support groups.
As the daughter of new immigrants from Eastern Europe to the United States, Alexia seeks collaboration with likeminded individuals to identify equitable solutions for social- and environmental-justice problems. As a member of FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council, Alexia hopes to bring attention to the need for an emergency response and recovery that is effective as well as inclusive.
Isaac is a rising senior in Colorado. He previously created his own emergency preparedness program for children, the “Pillow Pack Project.” In addition to presenting it to several local elementary schools, he helped facilitate fire drills for his school and community. Isaac’s dad has served as his role model in the emergency preparedness world and was the first to introduce him to the Youth Preparedness Council. For most of his life, Isaac has been passionate about mental health, especially related to trauma. He is on track to graduate high school with his Associate of Arts with a designation in psychology and plans to continue his career in trauma therapy.
During his time on the council, Isaac hopes to promote mental health awareness related explicitly to disasters. Using his prior knowledge of psychology, Isaac would like to better prepare citizens for the psychological effects that disasters may cause. He plans to do this by educating people on emergency preparedness topics and how to take care of themselves mentally.
Nico is a rising senior in California. He is an Eagle Scout candidate and passionate about amateur radio and emergency preparedness. Through his work with his city’s PREPARE program and Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Nico has built a packet radio station known as an Emergency Information Response Site for the downtown area which will be used in the event of an earthquake, fire, or any situation when normal forms of communications are unstable or are knocked out. He also helps organize and run the regional Boy Scouts of America Jamboree-on-the-Air, which connects scouts around the world using amateur radio linked by digital, satellite, and earth-based relay systems.
On the Youth Preparedness Council, he will continue to work with other members across the country to encourage the younger generation to get involved with amateur radio and emergency preparedness. He would also like to create a network of local and regional amateur radio clubs within high schools and scout troops across the nation to encourage more participation and awareness of emergency preparedness using amateur radio and CERT Programs.
Miles is a rising senior from Idaho. Miles’s spark for emergency preparedness came from his attendance at the FEMA Region 10 Youth Preparedness Camp where he discovered how simple it was to implement preparedness into his life and into his community. There, he learned of the Region’s Youth Preparedness Council, which he joined as a member and then became a co-chair. Miles worked diligently on the regional council to create several outreach projects and presentations.
Along with his region’s council, Miles has also worked full-time at the food bank in his hometown to directly help people who have been affected by emergencies. He believes in giving back to his community and works alongside his county’s Office of Emergency Management as well as his region’s American Red Cross chapter. In his free-time, Miles enjoys reading philosophy, hiking in the Idaho wilderness, and fostering rescued animals from local shelters.
On the national council, Miles is honored to represent his home state and act as an inspiration for youth around the country who may be apprehensive about preparedness. Nationally, he wants to create an educational program that offers Americans the vital information that he acquired at the Youth Preparedness Camp. Locally, Miles wants to work with schools to provide a comprehensive first aid program for students and teachers alike. He maintains the belief that although Idaho is just one state, the impact that young Idahoans can have is astounding, and he hopes that he can lead his peers to become prepared.
Shivani is a rising junior in Washington. Her life goal is to become a pediatrician and provide medical care to underprivileged children around the world. She is certified in adult and pediatric First Aid, CPR, AED, Stop the Bleed, and CERT.
Shivani helps local youth get involved with preparedness as founder and president of her school’s Red Cross Club. As the co-director of her school’s peer mentoring program, she led multiple anti-bullying and mental health initiatives. She is a taekwondo black belt and teaches others to defend themselves and be mentally ready for any situation. She has been internationally recognized for her essays on climate change by the World Affairs Council and the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research.
During a vacation to Japan in 2018, Shivani and her family were stuck in a typhoon and felt unprepared and scared, making her realize the importance of preparedness. After attending FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Camp, the following year, Shivani realized her passion for helping her community through disaster preparation. Shivani was selected to be on the FEMA Region 10 Youth Preparedness Council and served as a council co-chair. She was responsible for regional social media outreach to engage youth virtually and created videos about COVID-19 safety.
At the national level, Shivani is excited to help her community on a larger scale. She hopes to create preparedness fair booths and integrate more preparedness initiatives into school curriculums, so preparedness education can begin at a young age and create a future generation of prepared individuals.