Last week, almost 100 daisies, brownies, juniors, cadets and seniors took over the National Response Coordination Center here at FEMA Headquarters. As part of our ongoing effort to engage and educate young people about disaster preparedness, Girls Scouts past and present joined us for a Girl Scouts Preparedness Day. And with 3.2 million Girl Scouts across the U.S., you can bet a few alums and current troop leaders work here at FEMA.
As part of their visit, the girls learned a little about FEMA and the importance of being prepared for emergencies. They were also able to earn their Emergency Preparedness Patch, which is designed to engage Girl Scouts and their families in personal preparedness. This patch is especially significant to us because it is our mission. In fact, former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and former Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Kathy Cloninger created the Girl Scout preparedness patch.
After being welcomed by Administrator Fugate, the girls split up into breakout sessions with FEMA leadership and employees for different activities and presentations. Sessions included the “Band-Aid Café,” which consisted of the girls making their own band aids using graham crackers, icing and red syrup, while learning about bicycle helmet safety.
Other sessions included Disaster 101 with Tim Manning, Deputy Administrator of FEMA for Protection and National Preparedness. Manning provided an interactive discussion on the basics of being prepared for an emergency and shared information on items that should be in an emergency kit. They also talked through the best ways people can stay safe during emergencies like earthquakes, floods, and severe weather with our newly appointed Deputy Administrator Joseph Nimmich.
Research shows that children who learn about emergency preparedness experience less anxiety during an actual emergency or disaster. Having attended this event, these girl scouts will likely share what they learned with family and friends and be better prepared to act in the event of an emergency.
As a former Brownie myself, I was proud to see young girls actively engaging, asking questions, and participating in activities and actions that I work every day to promote. I’m certain we’ll see some of these daisies, brownies, and cadets walking the halls again one day in leadership positions at FEMA.