Wisconsin Emergency Management staff pack STEP materials for shipping to over 100 schools across the state.
Wisconsin Emergency Management staff pack STEP materials for shipping to over 100 schools across the state.

Students across the state will learn the importance of being prepared for emergencies this spring through the Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) program, which has now reached more than 100,000 fourth and fifth graders in Wisconsin.

“For nearly 13 years, the STEP program has helped kids learn the skills they need to be prepared for when they face a dangerous situation,” said Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) Administrator Greg Engle. “We are excited that so many teachers have seen the value of making sure their students receive these important lessons and continue to offer STEP in their classrooms.”

During the spring of 2024, more than 5,700 students in over 100 educational settings will participate in the STEP program. Since it launched in 2011, it’s estimated nearly 103,000 students have been enrolled in the program.

The STEP curriculum, designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), helps fourth and fifth grade students learn about how hazards such as severe weather and fires can impact them. WEM also provides participating educators with free materials for students to build their own emergency kits at home, including a small backpack and flashlight.

“Making an emergency kit helps students better understand what they may need following a disaster to help keep them and their family safe,” said Wisconsin STEP Program Coordinator Andrew Beckett. “STEP also encourages kids to have a conversation about preparedness with their parents and family, which helps to improve their whole household’s ability to be ready during an emergency.”

STEP is supported this year in part by a $10,000 grant from TC Energy, through its “Build Strong” social impact program.

“Safety is, and always will be, our number one value,” said Aaron Thompson, TC Energy’s manager of state government and community relations. “Being prepared for the rare cases when something does go wrong is critical. That’s why we’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to support Wisconsin Emergency Management with their ongoing effort to prepare, equip, and educate students across the state.”

The STEP program is part of WEM’s ReadyWisconsin campaign, which works to create a more prepared Wisconsin. Educators can learn more about STEP, and how they can enroll their classrooms, at https://readywisconsin.wi.gov/step/.