MSU disaster specialist receives FEMA training

Paul Butki, acting superintendent of the Emergency Management Institute with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (left), presents a certificate to Ryan Akers, an associate Extension professor in the Mississippi State University School of Human Sciences. Akers completed all requirements of the National Emergency Management Advanced Academy on Aug. 25, 2017, in Emmitsburg, Maryland. (Photo submitted by FEMA/Shane Gibbon)

Ms. Linda M. Breazeale
MSU Extension Service

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The leader of a Mississippi-based, national initiative to help families and communities prepare for disasters has earned an additional certification from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ryan Akers, an associate Extension professor in the Mississippi State University School of Human Sciences, just graduated from an in-depth course provided by FEMA. The curriculum addressed advanced concepts in disaster management, agency organization, community response and emergency professions.

Participants in FEMA’s National Emergency Management Advanced Academy established a peer network, worked together on projects and participated in class discussions.

“The program was a wonderful opportunity to network with some of the most outstanding people in emergency management today,” Akers said. “Lessons learned from fellow students and experienced faculty with regards to some of the more notable recent disasters and emergencies across our country are paramount in furthering my knowledge base and skill sets.”

Program topics included administrative philosophies, actions related to many large-scale disasters, and historical and contemporary leadership styles. The program examined hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, public health issues and other natural disasters and human-caused emergencies, including active shooter incidents and civil unrest.

“The ability to interact and participate in a think-tank-style learning environment was an exceptional opportunity and will certainly enhance my professional development and ability to assist with mitigation and preparedness planning, program and exercise development, as well as response and recovery planning,” he said.

Michael Newman, director of the MSU School of Human Sciences, said Akers’ success in advancing youth preparedness in Mississippi and across the country was an important factor in his participation in the FEMA Advanced Academy. Akers coordinates the Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative and MyPI National, an award-winning program created in Mississippi and replicated in 17 states and Guam.

“Ryan’s acceptance into this selective program speaks highly of the programs that we are creating for preparing our citizens,” Newman said. “It also gave him the opportunity to share our work with some of the brightest minds in the business and to receive their feedback as we move forward with our agenda.”

For questions or comments related to MyPI Mississippi, contact Akers or visit the MyPI MS website at For further questions or comments related to MyPI National, contact Akers or visit the MyPI National website at