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New YPC Members Bring Enthusiasm for Preparedness

August 2020

Seven new members joined FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) this summer. FEMA created the YPC in 2012 to bring together young leaders from across the country who are interested in supporting disaster preparedness. The Council consists of 15 members who are in the 9th through 12th grades.

New members became acquainted with returning members and learned more about FEMA programs at the annual YPC Summit in July. Due to COVID-19 precautions, FEMA held this year’s event online. During the Summit, YPC members were joined by the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump. During the Summit, she noted that children are disproportionately impacted during and after disasters and highlighted her “BE BEST” initiative, part of which educates children about emergency and disaster response. YPC members also began planning their own projects to support community preparedness over the next year.

Below are FEMA’s new YPC members for the 2020-2021 program year.

Nyl Nnamdi Aziaya

Aziaya’s interest in emergency management dates back to when he was in fourth grade and distributed FEMA’s Prepare with Pedro activity books and crayons to his classmates after surviving the 2011 tornado that hit the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama areas.

“At that moment, I knew that I needed to communicate to my community about the importance of getting prepared and staying prepared so it might not be as devastating the next time,” he recalls.

Aziaya launched his “Get Backpack Ready with Nyl” effort in 2017. He visited communities, schools, and civic organizations in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida to teach people how to build disaster kits. In addition to playing several sports, he is a member of the American Red Cross, 4-H Club, Kappa League Male Mentoring program, and is a national region officer with Top Teens of America and the National Association of Black Engineers Jr.

Nicolas Bremeau

A rising high school junior in Los Altos, CA, Bremeau is an Eagle Scout candidate and passionate about amateur radio and emergency preparedness.

Through his work with the Los Altos Amateur Radio Emergency Service and the city’s volunteer preparedness program, he built a digital “packet” radio station. It can be used in the event of a disaster if normal forms of communication are unstable or do not work at all. Bremeau also helps organize and run the regional Boy Scout JOTA (Jamboree-on-the-Air), which connects scouts around the world using ham or amateur radio.

“I am looking forward to understanding all other sides of emergency preparedness, besides emergency radio communication,” Bremeau says of his interest in the YPC. “I also hope to bring what I learn through YPC back to my community and encourage other young people to get involved in my town.”

Amanda Hingorani

The 2019 floods that devastated parts of the Midwest inspired Omaha, NE, resident Hingorani to pursue efforts around being prepared.

“I applied to become a YPC member because this council is a perfect opportunity for me to utilize my passion for my community to collaborate with other youth and make positive changes on a national scale,” she says.

Hingorani is a member of Omaha’s Youth Advisory Council working on mental health concerns. She was also a member of the 2019-2020 Omaha Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission, where she worked with the leaders of Omaha to address community issues. In February, she participated in the Harvard Model Congress as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. There she discussed problems and designed policies with youth from across the U.S.

She says she would like high schools to include a mandatory curriculum that focuses on steps to help in medical emergencies before first responders arrive. This summer, Hingorani is working as a camp counselor with the Nebraska Humane Society.

Vishnu Iyer

Iyer, a rising junior from Carmel, IN, is a youth tutor for homeless children through the organization School on Wheels. He has given presentations on this effort to program sponsors and at fundraisers for school supplies. As part of a regional YPC council, Iyer started a Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program at his high school, hosting CERT trainings for students with local officials and CERT volunteers. He has also conducted a disaster mapping workshop for adults through the American Red Cross.

Iyer says he hopes to find new ways to provide opportunities for youth. “If you start early in teaching people about emergency preparedness, it will really make a big impact throughout their lives,” he says. “I want to help connect youth to resources that they did not know about previously and give underprivileged communities the education that they do not have access to.”

Joaquin Muegniot

After experiencing Hurricane María in 2017 and the recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico, Muegniot volunteered to aid in the recovery efforts. He used this experience to organize preparedness training for disasters in his town and in his school as a class vice president.

“Seeing the aftermath of recent disasters that have affected Puerto Rico over the last few years, and my commitment to create positive change within my community when it comes to preparedness is what motivated me to apply to the YPC,” he says.

Muegniot is also an active participant within his school’s Math and Model United Nations Clubs as well as a member of the Varsity Golf Team.

“During my time on the YPC, I wish to create innovative ideas as to how to better prepare our nation’s communities for any upcoming disasters and overall improve on my leadership and public speaking skills,” he says.

Devangana Rana

Rana’s interest in preparedness was sparked by her internship with the Indo-German Biodiversity Program in the Himalayan region of India. During the internship, she researched how to communicate with local villagers to help keep them safe from wildfires and floods.

“Collaborating and learning from professionals about emergency preparedness to protect vital biodiversity made me want to explore disaster management more,” she says.

Back home in Urbana, IL, she says she would like to combine her passion for international service and humanitarian work with disaster preparedness.

“I aim to create events in my neighborhood for international students on how to prepare for emergencies as well as create a collaborative forum where youth globally can share their experiences with natural disasters,” she says.

Rana is president of the Key Club at her high school, where she coordinated a fundraiser for the Thirst Project, a non-profit organization providing water to countries impacted by natural disasters. She also serves as the Partnership and Sustainability Executive for the TAD Initiative, an online group based in Lagos, Nigeria, working to educate youth about climate change.

Hunter Tobey

Tobey is a rising high school sophomore in Mashpee, MA, with a dual enrollment in Emergency Management at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Additionally, Tobey serves as a Cadet Senior Airman with the Civil Air Patrol Auxiliary of the US Air Force. He was selected for the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

Tobey is also Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe CERT trained and will continue to work closely with the tribal community addressing safety measures and preparedness efforts. Tobey would also like to implement a teen CERT program in his community. As a regional YPC representative, Tobey participated in the You Are the Help Until Help Arrives Train-the-Trainer program. He is also a ham radio operator.

Congratulations to all of FEMA’s new YPC members! Learn more about them and the Council’s returning members at https://www.ready.gov/kids/youth-preparedness-council.

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.

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