Hunter Tobey is a returning Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) member from Massachusetts. The YPC brings together youth leaders from across the country that are interested in supporting their community with disaster preparedness projects.
In this fun Q and A, Hunter reflects on the past year with the council, shares some helpful tips for new members and looks ahead to next year with big plans!
Q: What has been your favorite part about being in the YPC so far?
A: My favorite part of serving on the national Youth Preparedness Council this year is the community service that we were able to provide during COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the needs were greater. I felt empowered to volunteer my service in my community during a difficult time.
As a member of the council, I was able to assist in supporting my local and tribal communities in areas of need. Our FEMA YPC team was able to bring supplies and personal protective equipment to our communities for distribution. Specifically, I wrote and was awarded a grant through a national nonprofit organization for personal protective equipment and morale-raising items for special needs communities on Cape Cod. As these populations, in my opinion, are forgotten and during the pandemic, their needs were exacerbated. This project is still on going.
Q: Tell us about your projects on the Council this past year--what have you been working on?
A: This year my service project was presenting a tornado preparedness webinar. The webinar included federal, state, local, and tribal public safety agencies discussing response efforts for this type of a disaster. This was an opportunity to provide solutions to barriers and offer collaboration between agencies.
I continue to work closely with my tribal community and FEMA leaders in addressing emergency preparedness measures. During COVID-19, I was able to work with the Mashpee Wampanoag Emergency Management Director Nelson Andrews, to bring personal protective equipment to tribal elders. Additionally, I was able to assist Director Nelson with daily operations during the pandemic. My commitment goes a long way in ensuring the safety and well-being of the residents within my tribal community.
Q: Did you learn any valuable lessons this year that you're looking forward to taking into next year?
A: In presenting the tornado preparedness webinar, I learned how to work on a large scale interagency exercise and how important it is to practice good communication. It was my responsibility to coordinate the flow of information to the general public and panelists. Additionally, throughout the webinar I moderated the progression of all presentations and facilitated all question and answer sessions throughout. I organized all of the necessary components of the webinar, which enabled me to practice good record management skills.
Q: The YPC summit is coming soon! What are you most excited for?
A: For this year's YPC summit, I am interested in sharing my knowledge gained from the implementation of my project. Additionally, I am excited to learn about my fellow council members' projects and what they learned through the development of their projects. The sharing of information amongst the members is how we are all able to grow and expand our own knowledge so that we are able to better serve in our communities with future projects.
Q: This year’s summit theme is “Equity into Everything.” What role has equity played in your work so far? Why is it important to you?
A: “Equity into Everything” has played a very important role in my tornado preparedness webinar for this year. My goal for this project was to educate the communities I am a part of about emergency preparedness efforts during a disaster. Through this virtual delivery method and our outreach efforts, we were able to reach a wide range of populations throughout the country. Anyone could use the topics presented in the webinar to increase their preparedness for a disaster. Things as simple as bringing shoes down into your tornado shelter and wearing a helmet during the shelter period are things that we can all do.
Q: Any words of advice for the new members?
A: As a new member, it is important to share and seek input from fellow council members in the development of your project. Additionally, I would advise new members to increase their current social networks to include their communities’ emergency preparedness organizations. They can support our projects and help ensure the most benefit for our communities.