MyPI Nebraska instructors receive state volunteerism award

Ashland, Neb. – Every day, volunteers provide essential support in their communities. The ServeNebraska Step Forward Awards recognize these outstanding people and groups for their time and service. Award winners and finalists are selected by the governor in tribute to the significant contributions made within the state through volunteerism. Winners and finalists are recognized during an awards ceremony.

This year’s winner in the Disaster Volunteer category is the Lincoln instructor cohort for MyPI Nebraska. Soni Cochran, Wilma Gerena, Tom Guilford, Leo Larkin, Joy Mace, and Bruce Marxsen (posthumously) were recognized for their efforts to deliver Nebraska Extension’s teen preparedness program. The volunteer instructors provided area teens with a valuable and impactful educational experience. They collaborated to plan and lead MyPI Nebraska classroom sessions and hands-on experiences like fire suppression, CPR/AED certification, first aid, and search and rescue techniques. They engaged teen participants in emergency preparedness efforts, and they promoted teamwork, communication, leadership, self-esteem, civic responsibility, family cohesion, and positive decision making among the participants, often leading with excitement and by example.

Under the leadership and guidance of the volunteer instructors, nine teens graduated from MyPI Nebraska in Lancaster County in the spring. Each teen worked with seven families to prepare emergency communications plans and to develop disaster kits. In terms of impact, there are 63 Nebraska families who are now more prepared for emergencies and disasters.

The volunteer instructors are passionate about readiness, serving their community, and volunteerism. All of them are active members of the local Civil Air Patrol, where they give their time and talents to advance the mission of CAP. They embrace the “whole community” approach to emergency management, as evidenced by their dedication to ensuring youth have the same opportunities as adults to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies and disasters.

The volunteer instructors were honored at this year’s Step Forward Awards, which was held on October 26th at Quarry Oaks Golf Club in Ashland. The awards have 9 categories celebrating Nebraska’s great volunteers. Categories include: Adult Volunteer, Corporate Community Volunteer, Disaster Volunteer, Lifetime Achievement, National Service, Senior Volunteer, Veteran Volunteer, Volunteer Group and Youth Volunteer.

“Being able to recognize the hard work of so many of our citizens in Nebraska who volunteer to make this state a great place, is such an honor. ServeNebraska is so pleased to collaborate with the Governor's office and to host the Step Forward Awards and meet all of the wonderful individuals who serve this great state,” states Cathleen Plager, Executive Director.

MyPI Nebraska was started in 2017. It is a component of the National Youth Preparedness Initiative, MyPI National, which is a partnership of sixteen states delivering the program. Thirteen additional states or territories will begin delivering the program in 2019.

For more information on MyPI Nebraska or ways to get involved, visit or contact Ashley Mueller at 402-727-2775 or