August 12. Many girls and young women were introduced to the field of emergency management last week when
The program aims to develop diversity in emergency management, particularly among girls and young women who may not otherwise have access to emergency management and similar professions.
The participants, girls and women from elementary school to junior college and from a variety of backgrounds, participated in hands-on learning activities to highlight skills needed for disaster preparedness and emergency management, as well as other careers. The FEMA Administrator also offered a talk to attendees
All participants participated free of charge thanks to
It was an experience that most or all participants would not have had it not been for the HERricane program for which it exists.
“Some of these young women have come from foster homes, schools that aren’t the best, and they’re sitting in a classroom for the first time, in an EOC, and they’re seeing
The program is offered to schools, cities and other groups where young women and girls can be involved in a template program or a program with some local adjustments.
“When it comes to the curriculum, it’s pretty much standardized,” Willis said. “We offer a location the ability to make it somewhat specific to that location, so for example, even if it’s a HERicane program,
Cities, schools or organizations interested in participating can contact I-DIEM and go through the event development application process.
The program started in
“We wanted to partner with a like-minded organization like Farmers that is in the same field of disaster response and recovery and that cares about equity,” Willis said. “When we saw how many women they had in leadership, we knew it would be a great partnership.”
Farmers is also recruiting some HERricane participants to participate in the Farmers Internship Program.
“The program has done a good job of inspiring not only girls and women to participate in emergency response, but also in other areas,” said
The program was originally aimed at girls between the ages of 12 and 18, but Farmers suggested involving older girls to have a more immediate impact.
Willis said two-thirds of women and people of color begin their educational careers in college. “So if you want to diversify the field for women and people of color, community colleges are an integral part of that diversification, and that’s where Farmer, frankly, stepped in and said, ‘Let’s look at this more strategically.’
Willis said that after 23 years in emergency management, she understands what it’s like to be in a male-dominated field and wants to make it easier for those who follow in her footsteps.
“I was the only woman in the room. I was the only woman of color in the room,” she said. “It’s important for us to really make the field of emergency management more representative of the people who are actually experiencing the effects of climate change and disaster in general.”
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