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Youth Engagement Spurs Adult Commitment

September 2017

When Daniel Wernsman was 12 years old, he joined Wisconsin’s Responding to Emergencies and Disasters with Youth (R.E.A.D.Y.) program to learn more about disasters and preparedness. R.E.A.D.Y. students focus on volunteerism and public service, develop leadership skills, and learn to be advocates for emergency preparedness and safety. 

 
Wernsman joined the YPC in 2013.
Wernsman joined the YPC in 2013.
Wernsman explains that his participation in this program was what sparked his interest in preparing communities for disasters. “I was raised to help people. As I volunteered, I became more and more interested in helping my community, and also helping out with bigger causes outside of Milwaukee.” 

Daniel went on to apply for FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council (YPC). In 2013, he joined the YPC as a council member and began encouraging the governors in each of the states within FEMA Region V, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, to get their constituents to take actions to be better prepared for disasters. 

Daniel continued to inspire readiness within his home community by helping to organize first aid/CPR training in the greater Milwaukee area. He reflects, “You don’t realize how much of an impact you can make until you start working towards something greater than yourself.”
Wernsman helps at a FEMA Corps jobsite.
Wernsman helps at a FEMA Corps jobsite.
Daniel’s experiences as a teen inspired him to continue being active in emergency preparedness into his early twenties. 

While a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wernsman decided to take a year off to serve his country through FEMA Corps. As a Corps member, he is a media representative and wellness coordinator. This summer, Daniel came to FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. to help plan and participate this year’s YPC Summit. The annual meeting includes opportunities YPC members to work together on a project through learning exercise to prepare for their upcoming year of service. 

In his next rotation with FEMA Corps, Daniel will travel around the country, learning practical ways to help communities prepare for and recover from disasters. 

Summing up what keeps him motivated, Wernsman explains, “Preparedness is really important for everybody—people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures, and economic situations.”

This week, Wernsman and his team are traveling to Texas to assist with Hurricane Harvey disaster efforts. 

To learn more about FEMA Corps’ activity throughout the Nation, go here.