University of Hawaii Manoa Extension joins innovative national youth preparedness partnership

MyPI HI instructors practice fire supression

MyPI HI instructors practice fire suppression

This week in Kahului, the initial delegation of instructors within the Hawaii Youth Preparedness Initiative, MyPI Hawaii, completed a comprehensive certification and training workshop led by the MyPI National Coordination Team, and became the second state to train instructors under the national project umbrella.  According to Nancy Ooki, 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent for the University of Hawaii at Manoa Cooperative Extension Service and MyPI Hawaii State Program Coordinator, “As a youth educator, my initial attraction to the MyPI program was its inclusion of teens in the training.  I felt it would be a great opportunity for youth to learn about disaster preparedness, which is a topic that everyone is somewhat familiar with but does not always stay actively updated enough to be truly prepared.” 

Over the next two years, MyPI Hawaii will be offering an innovative and engaging youth preparedness program to approximately 125 teens across the state.  According to Charnan Carroll, Maui County CERT Program Manager, “MyPI Hawaii reaches a segment of our community that has a wide-reaching and diverse influence.  As our youth share their knowledge with families and peers, they are vital to creating a prepared community.  MyPI Hawaii is training our future leaders who will understand that a prepared community is a strong community.”  This program, based on a national award winning model delivered in Mississippi through the Mississippi State University Extension Service and Mississippi Citizen Corps, enhances individual, family, and community preparedness for disasters while at the same time, strengthens youth leadership, communication skills, teamwork, decision making, self-esteem, civic responsibility, and empowerment, along with family communication and cohesion. “We have reaped the benefits of strong state-level advocacy and partnerships in Mississippi.  I was excited to see the support and enthusiasm from Charnan, the Maui County CERT Program Manager, as well several guests who stopped in for the Instructor Certification and Training Workshop, including Chris Stankis, a local Fireman and CERT Instructor, and Michael Kern, the Voluntary Agency Liaison, for FEMA Region IX, Pacific Area Office.  So as the National team works with Nancy Ooki over the next two years, we will continue to foster relationships and networks that will ensure MyPI Hawaii’s success for years to come, which is really what the youth and the great people of this state deserve,” said Dr. Ryan Akers, MyPI National and MyPI Mississippi Project Director.  Mississippi Citizen Corps State Program Manager and Lead CERT Instructor for MyPI National, Dave Nichols, added, “It was great to meet and train the next group of MyPI Instructors here in Hawaii.  Their passion for youth and for the individual, family, and community preparedness of the communities across this great state was very apparent and I am looking forward to seeing their progress in delivering this award winning youth preparedness and leadership program.” 

MyPI Hawaii is a component of the National Youth Preparedness Initiative, MyPI National, a partnership of eight states delivering the MyPI curriculum to teenagers across Nebraska, Hawaii, New Jersey, Washington, Illinois, Tennessee, Virginia, and Mississippi.  According to Akers, “We are excited to partner with University of Hawaii Extension and excited to see MyPI Hawaii flourish across the state.  It is an exciting program that offers rich learning and leadership opportunities for teens and enhanced preparedness levels for families and communities across this great state.  It is abundantly clear to everyone on my team that the instructors here have a strong passion for disaster education and preparedness, their youth and families, and the livelihood of these communities.”     

For students in the eight states, the MyPI model offers a flexible 5 to 10 week, three component program.  In Component A, teenagers will complete the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency-certified Teen CERT training and corresponding modules focusing on Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety and Utility Control, Disaster Medical Operations, Light Search and Rescue, CERT Organization, Disaster Psychology, and Terrorism and CERT.  In Component B, the Add-On Catalog features certification in CPR and AED usage, along with a technology track comprised of awareness programs focusing on HAM Radio, NOAA Weather Radio, Smoke Alarm Maintenance, and Smart Phone App and Social Media in Emergency Preparedness.  The Add-On Catalog also includes a Disaster simulation, and a Career Track that focuses on public safety, fire service, and emergency management careers.  The final element of the program, Component C, includes a comprehensive family and community service project entitled PREP + 6 in which each participant helps develop emergency supply kits and emergency communication plans for their family AND 6 additional families or households. This component allows for significant enhancement in individual, family, and community preparedness and resilience.  To graduate from the program, students must complete all components.  Added Ooki, “One of the interesting features of this program is that it goes way beyond the content training.  The hands-on exercises provide opportunities for teems to become comfortable with the procedures.  More than that though, the final step of the program, PREP + 6, is the part that really makes it an outstanding program.  In this final component of MyPI, youth participants take a leadership role and go out in to their community to work with families to create communication plans and emergency supply kits.  The applied knowledge, community service and leadership components make it an excellent connection to the 4-H program.  I am excited to share this with Maui County youth and across the state of Hawaii.”

The partnering states in MyPI National are replicating the model created and delivered in Mississippi.  In 2014, the Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative was named FEMA’s national award winner for Outstanding Youth Preparedness program. It also received an Honorable Mention recognition for “Preparing the Whole Community.” In 2015, MyPI Mississippi was named one of the first entities to be named an official Affirmer of the new National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education. As such, MyPI is an engaged and recognized component of a nationally supported, progressive approach to preparing youth for emergencies and disasters.  MyPI National is also recognized as an Affirmer of the national strategy.

For additional information regarding MyPI Hawaii including the areas of the state that the program will be delivered in the initial deliveries, please visit the MyPI Hawaii website at or contact Nancy Ooki, MyPI Hawaii Program Coordinator at or 808-244-3242, Extension 225.  For more information regarding MyPI National, please visit the MyPI National website at or contact Dr. Ryan Akers, MyPI National Project Coordinator at or 662.325.5914.  You may also reference both projects on social media platforms.  Facebook profiles can be found by searching My PI Hawaii and My PI National respectively, and Twitter handles can be found by searching @MyPI_HI and @MyPI_National.