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Blog Posts Explore Emergency Management Careers

July 2022

A team of National Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) members are writing a series of blog posts to help other young people learn about the wide range of careers in emergency management. In the first blog, reprinted below, they talk with second-year YPC member Miles Butler about disaster preparedness and his advice for other youth interested in emergency management. Additional posts will include interviews with various emergency management professionals.

Passion for Preparedness: A Look at Disaster Preparedness Through the Eyes of Youth

Greetings everyone! We are Megan and Amira, first-year members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Youth Preparedness Council (FEMA YPC). And this is Miles, also a National YPC member, whom we interviewed for this article.


The Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) is a group of talented students who are competitively selected to help create a culture of preparedness across the country. We serve on the National YPC, which is run from FEMA’s headquarters in Washington D.C. Most of FEMA’s 10 regions also have regional YPCs. Being a part of the YPC provides an opportunity for aspiring students to learn about emergency management, develop professional skills, and share their perspectives about preparedness. YPC members also work on teams to design and create projects that help the nation to better prepare for disasters.

Our YPC group project for 2021-2022 focuses on spreading awareness and educating high school and college students about the wide variety of careers available in the field of emergency management. This is important because, thanks to our time on the YPC, we know firsthand how many opportunities there are waiting for youth to take advantage of. We hope we can help inspire the next generation of youth who are interested in preparedness! For our blog, we interview people who currently work in the field of emergency management to see what tips, tricks, and advice they have to offer. Our goal is to share our findings with youth who are looking to study disaster preparedness in college and/or adopt an emergency management career.

To kick off our blog post series, we want to share information about the YPC itself because this will help readers better understand our goals and everyday responsibilities as YPC members. To do this, we interviewed National YPC member Miles Butler. Miles joined the YPC in 2019 after gaining experience and developing passion for preparedness with the FEMA Region 10 YPC, which consists of members from the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho (Miles’ home state), and Alaska.

In this interview, Miles shared advice and key takeaways from his experience working closely with FEMA as a YPC member. He also told us about how his experience has holistically benefited him.

What do you think is the most important aspect of emergency management?

For Miles, communication is key. During our interview, he elaborated on the importance of communication not just regarding emergency management, but on the YPC and in the world of disaster preparedness as a whole. He believes that communication is what “holds everything together” and “keeps the operation moving.” He has learned that, across the country, certain forms of communication are prioritized over others, depending on the varying needs of the citizens in each state and/or region. For example, the top priority of Miles’ local EMA was emergency communications specific to quickly evolving situations such as wildfires — which are a frequent hazard in his area. Miles thinks it’s extremely important to ensure emergency information is available to the public, and nothing falls through the cracks. For Miles, it is important to encourage quality communication related to preparedness at all levels of our society, including youth and their families, stakeholders, emergency directors, and more.

After working with the YPC, how has your confidence and knowledge of emergency preparedness changed? What about your ability to make a difference?

Before joining the YPC, Miles had limited experience with preparedness. In fact, he associated preparedness with people living in remote mountains with bunkers, warzone rationing, and hoarding supplies while preparing for some sort of doomsday scenario. His participation in preparedness camp and first aid training between 2017 and 2018 debunked this preconceived notion. While at preparedness camp, Miles had the hefty goal of becoming a master at first aid, and to “embody what he was learning.” His time there helped his motivation grow. Preparedness camp was a space where Miles developed valuable skills that helped him feel more qualified and capable of making a difference, which inspired him to apply for the YPC soon after. Similarly, his membership on the council helped him to become much more confident in who he was and his preparedness knowledge.

What is something you’ve done as a YPC member that has surprised you? Something that hasn’t?

When Miles first started out as a YPC member about three years ago, he recalls feeling like he didn’t really know what he was in for. He wasn’t sure what to expect from this new and unfamiliar opportunity, so there were many more aspects of the council that surprised him than things he was not surprised by. For example, he was delighted to learn just how easy the council and its advisors make it for members from different states to work closely with one another through platforms like Zoom and Slack. Miles remembered being particularly excited about being able to work with council members from the state of Washington, and he loved learning about the cultural differences between Washington and Idaho, and how those differences influenced the way emergency management was carried out in each state. On the other hand, Miles was not surprised by the time commitment required from council members, and how much of that commitment was dedicated toward scheduling and communication between members, advisors, and networking outside of the council.

What do you think is the most important emergency management tool for youth to implement in their homes? Why?

“As much as I would love to say, ‘make a bug out bag,’ I think the first step is making a plan,” Miles told us. He wants every child to adopt the preparedness strategy of creating an emergency plan with their family. For Miles, this is important because this protocol applies to the widest range of families across all FEMA regions. It is also beneficial since it “gets the gears turning” in the minds of each family, making them more open toward learning about preparedness and adopting other tools once they have created that solid foundation of knowledge for themselves.

What advice would you give to youth who are interested in exploring emergency management/preparedness?

“Start getting experience and find something that interests you!” says Miles. For Miles, school was his sole focus for a long time prior to the council, and he didn’t have a hobby — but he never looked back once he found a hobby in preparedness and discovered his passion for the YPC. He advises others to continuously reassess and work on their time management, so they have the space to do projects that excite them. He also asks that our readers be confident enough in themselves to take risks.

In conclusion, after hearing from fellow council member Miles, we are more able to appreciate just how special the YPC is. Hopefully this interview also gives aspiring YPC members who are reading this post the opportunity to relate to current YPC members. As the first installment in our blog series, we want this post to give backstory of the YPC and prepare our readers for what’s to come. What particularly stood out to us from this interview was how beneficial the YPC was for Miles in terms of his cognitive health, his mental health, and his personal development — as it should ideally be for every member. Miles was more than happy to support the work of other council members and loved discussing his preparedness experiences, both the good and the bad, which exemplifies the spirit of a YPC member. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Miles — and we hope we’ve inspired more youth to apply for the YPC!

This article first appeared in the quarterly Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter.  Subscribe here.

 Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services, or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting  FEMA-prepare@fema.dhs.gov .