Ten-year-old Jordan Schweitzer, from Glacier View, heard about an Emergency Preparedness poster contest at her school and decided to enter so she could show what it meant to her to be prepared. She wrote ‘Survive and Thrive ’and included a list of critical items and pictures of supplies she thinks are important to have.

“I wanted my poster to have a little rhythm,” she explained. “And I figured if you have the supplies you need to survive an emergency, then you have a chance to thrive.”

She said her family doesn’t talk a lot about what they will do in an emergency but she’s pretty confident that they are prepared. She thinks everyone should learn survival skills. “If you can do things like hunting and foraging, you could use those skills if there is an emergency and you can’t go to the store.”

To her delight, Jordan’s poster was selected as one of the six final winners. The poster contest was part of the 13th annual Emergency Preparedness Expo held at the Menard Sports Center, September 25, 2021.

Jacob Hartman, age 16, volunteered with his Colony High School Junior ROTC program to support the Expo. “There were only a few jobs for volunteers and once those were taken, the rest of us were told to just walk around and see what was happening. I started walking around and talking to people. It was really cool with lots of different sources of information. And then I noticed the poster contest and that no one had entered my age division. After a while, I thought, well why not me? So I sat down and drew a picture of my dad’s food cache because I figured, if there is an emergency, we’ll have food and supplies. And then I added his gun case because if we run out of food, we’ll be able to hunt for more and protect our family.”

That decision to take the initiative to draw a picture of what being prepared for an emergency meant to him earned him the winning prize for his age division.

Jacob believes that everyone who lives in Alaska really needs to be prepared. “I think the most important thing people need to know is that you should never think it won’t happen to you. Because it can. It probably will. I remember in November 2018 when I went to school I was thinking about the party we were going to have for a teacher that was getting promoted, but instead we had a really big earthquake and everything suddenly changed.”

Raylee Meeuwsen, another Glacier View student, made a list and drew pictures of things she believes should be in a grab and go bag. “I think it’s important to have a bag you can grab and take with you if you have to get out of your house fast.”

Jacob, Jordan and Raylee, along with Talon Holden and Emily Williams, each won first-place and a three-day survival back-pack thanks to the American Red Cross, for their poster contest entries. Everyone who entered also received a gift certificate from McDonalds. You can check out all the 2021 winning poster entries at https://ready.matsugov.us/

This annual poster contest, part of the Mat Su’s September National Emergency Preparedness Month activities, helps to engage families and get them talking about what they would do in an emergency. Do they have a plan for where to meet or what to do if an emergency or natural disaster strikes? Do they know how to recognize dangers like avalanches, floods, wildfire? Do they know how to do things like shelter in place, render first aid or cut off the natural gas to their home?

This poster contest was supported by the Mat-Su Local Emergency Planning Committee, Safe Logic, Inc, McDonalds Corporation and the American Red Cross. The Mat-Su Preparedness Expo was made possible with support from the Mat Su Borough Emergency Services, Local Emergency Planning Committee, City of Wasilla, American Red Cross and AARP Alaska.

Just because National Emergency Preparedness month (September,) is over, doesn’t mean you missed your chance to get prepared. Take the time today to talk with your family. Make your plan, collect critical supplies and communicate what everyone should do so that your family can survive and thrive just as Jordan Schweitzer stated on her winning poster.

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