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This fall, at The Ranch in Loveland, the initial delegation of instructors within the Colorado 4-H Youth Preparedness Initiative, MyPI Colorado, completed a comprehensive certification and training workshop led by the MyPI National Coordination Team, making Colorado the sixteenth state to train instructors under the national project umbrella. According to Wade Ingle, the MyPI Colorado Program Manager and CSU Extension Specialist for 4-H STEM and K-12 programing, “MyPI is a youth development program that provides Colorado teens the opportunity to develop life skills such as leadership, civic duty, record keeping, and program planning/design through the implementation of a natural disaster preparedness plan within their community. MyPI teaches youth to take an active role in the sustainability of the well-being of their families, neighbors, and communities through youth and caring adults working together to help others. MyPI Colorado will provide our youth the opportunity to explore and become excited about the STEM-related careers of first responders and emergency managers.

Over the next 11 months, MyPI Colorado, through the Dolores County Office of Emergency Management and 4-H, will be offering this innovative and engaging youth preparedness program to teens who will assist families and communities across the state. This program, based on a national award-winning model, enhances individual, family, and community preparedness for disasters, while at the same time, strengthening youth leadership, communication skills, teamwork, decision making, self-esteem, civic responsibility, and empowerment, along with family communication and cohesion. “One of the underlying missions of MyPI National is to reboot youth preparedness across this country, to capitalize on the energy of our youth, and to set the new standard for how we engage our teens in sustained preparedness endeavors as we move forward in the face of a variety of threats and hazards that we continue to see on seemingly a daily basis, regardless of geographic location. From the large urban areas to the smaller rural towns, emergencies and disasters do not discriminate. We have seen fantastic success for several years and have now begun to see the same impact within our partners under the MyPI National umbrella. As our MyPI National team works with MyPI Colorado instructors over the next 11 months, we will continue the process of fostering relationships and networks that will hopefully ensure the success of this program for years to come, which is yet another very achievable outcome and one that this great state and its citizens, families, and communities deserve,” said Dr. C. Ryan Akers, MyPI National Project Director and MyPI Mississippi Program Coordinator.

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 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 opportunities 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.

Keith Keesling, Emergency Manager for Dolores County and a MyPI instructor, indicated that the program is a strong addition to communities. “This program starts with our local youth and branches out into our local families - all which makes Dolores County better prepared and more resilient. The skills our youth learn in MyPI will help them become assets as opposed to victims in the event of an emergency.” Added Keesling, “As an emergency management professional, I believe in this program enough to have become an instructor. Our youth becoming active in volunteerism and community preparedness will save lives and property.” For additional information regarding MyPI Colorado in Dolores County, please visit the MyPI Colorado website at or contact Keith Keesling, MyPI Colorado instructor for Dolores County at 970-769-0005 or Facebook profiles can be found by searching “My PI Colorado” and “My PI National” respectively, and Twitter feeds can be found by searching “@MyPI_CO” and “@ MyPI_National”.

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