Aug. 12 — A host of girls and young women were introduced to the field of emergency management last week when the
The program is aimed at developing diversity in emergency management, specifically among girls and young women who may otherwise lack avenues into emergency management and similar professions.
The participants, girls and women from junior high through junior college and of diverse backgrounds, took part in hands-on development training activities with the goal of highlighting the skills needed for disaster preparedness and emergency management, as well as other careers. The participants were also treated to a keynote by FEMA Administrator
All the attendees participated for free thanks to
It was an experience that most or all of the participants would not have if not for the HERricane program, which is why it exists.
“Some of these young ladies are coming from foster homes, schools that are not the best and for them to be sitting in a classroom, in an EOC for the first time and see the
The program is offered to schools, cities and other groups where young women and girls can be recruited to participate in a template program or one with some local tweaks.
“When it comes to curriculum, it’s pretty much standardized,” Willis said. “We do offer the location the opportunity to make it very specific in some ways to that location, so for example, even though it’s the HERicane program,
Cities, schools or organizations interested in participating can contact I-DIEM and go through an application process to develop the event.
The program began in
“We were intentional about partnering with a like-minded organization like Farmers that is in the same disaster response and disaster recovery realm and cares about equity,” Willis said. “When we saw how many women they have in leadership, we knew this would be a great partnership.”
Farmers also recruits some of the participants in the HERricane program to participate in the Farmers internship program.
“The program has done a good job of not only inspiring girls and women to go into emergency management, but other fields as well,” said
The program originally targeted girls aged 12 to 18, but Farmers suggested that older girls be recruited to make a more immediate impact.
Willis said two-thirds of women and people of color begin their educational careers at community colleges. “So, if you want to diversify the field for women and people of color, community colleges are integral to that diversification and this, honestly, is where Farmers kind of stepped in and said, ‘Let’s look at this more strategically.'”
Willis said 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 that follow in her footsteps.
“I’ve been the only woman in the room. I’ve been 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 impacts of climate change and disaster in general.”
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