Skip to page content

Akers' youth preparedness initiative in Mississippi wins FEMA award

  |   Michael Childs   |   Permalink   |   Alumni,   Kudos

A University of Georgia College of Education graduate has been nationally honored for his creation of a Mississippi State University Extension Service youth initiative aimed at preparing communities in Mississippi for disasters.

Ryan Akers (PhD '07), an assistant professor in MSU's School of Human Sciences, was awarded the Individual and Community Preparedness Award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for his program called MyPI, which stands for Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative. The program also won an honorable mention in the category of "Preparing the Whole Community."

Of those recognized by FEMA, Akers was among eight winners who were named "Champions of Change" and selected to speak about their programs at the White House and FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. in September.

Akers, who earned his doctorate in Counseling and Student Personnel Services from UGA, was one of 16 recipients out of more than 230 individual and community preparedness programs across the country.

For participants, MyPI is essentially a 10-week program plus two Saturdays within that timeframe in which 3,500 Mississippi teens (aged 13-19) will complete Homeland Security-certified Teen CERT training and CPR and AED certification.

Much like the Extension 4-H Youth Development Program, one of the goals of MyPI is for teens to take home what they learn to their families. The MyPI program has a multiplier effect that can enable it to reach about 126,000 families every five years.

"Through MyPI outreach, students work with their families plus six others to develop emergency supply kits and family communication plans," he said. "At the conclusion of MyPI, every participant directly enhances the individual and family preparedness of seven families in their community."

The MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Citizen Corps are promoting the program in communities across the state. The current Teen Community Emergency Response Team curriculum, approved by FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, is the foundation for the program. Additionally, MyPI includes CPR/Automated External Defibrillator certification, a technology track and a career track.

"The leadership and community service capstone project is the defining piece of MyPI and allows us to reach further into communities," Akers said. "Our goal is to establish a new standard for youth preparedness while at the same time improving the safety and security of families and communities."

For more information, contact Akers at or visit the MyPI website at

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602