UACES Facebook MyPi program to engage teens in disaster preparedness
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MyPi program to engage teens in disaster preparedness


By Emily Thompson / U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast Facts:

  • 12 extension agents, program associates, volunteers complete MyPreparedness Initiative instructor training
  • MyPI is a national initiative that trains teens in disaster preparedness
  • Dingman:  125 Arkansas teens will graduate from the program and will create 875 emergency supply kits for their communities

LITTLE ROCK— Arkansas is the latest state to join a national initiative to teach teens disaster preparedness skills.

A dozen agents, program associates and community volunteers from eight counties, all affiliated with the Cooperative Extension Service, completed the My Preparedness Initiative, or MyPI, instructor training. MyPI is a national initiative that provides a disaster preparedness program developed for teens so they can take ownership of their own preparedness and help their families and communities do the same.

“It gives teens a sense of ownership of their community,” said Ashley Dingman, MyPI Arkansas coordinator and extension 4-H After school program associate for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “It’s important to think about the times we’re living in and all the disasters that could happen. Whether they are natural like a tornado or manmade … these kids are growing up in a world that is different from the one you and I grew up in.”

Instruction training lasted three days and participants were trained in CERT, Community Emergency Response Team,  fire suppression and safety, triage, light search and rescue and identifying terrorist activity.

With their certification, the new MyPI instructors can teach the program to youth in their county. This year, 125 Arkansas teens will become MyPI graduates.

“The program is not only knowledge-based, but it really focuses on experience learning,” Dingman said.

The MyPI program is flexible, lasting five to10 weeks. It’s divided into three components. In the first, participants will complete the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency-certified CERT training and other modules that cover disaster preparedness, fire safety, utility control, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, CERT and CERT organization, disaster psychology and terrorism.

The second component focuses on CPR certification, use of Automated External Defibrillators, or AED devices, and disaster tools such as ham radio, NOAA Weather Radio, smoke alarm maintenance and smart phone apps and social media use.

In the final component of the program, each participant will have a service project where they will develop emergency supply kits and communication plans for their family and six other households.

The program is made free to participants through a federal grant.

Dingman said she is looking forward to the ripple effect she hopes the program will have.

At the end of the year, the125 MyPI program graduates will have created 875  emergency supply kits for members of their communities. Next year she hopes to have 10 more instructors trained to reach even more communities in Arkansas.

“It will be amazing to see how this program will impact Arkansas,” Dingman said.

For more information about MyPI Arkansas, email Ashley Dingman at


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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