This past week, I wrote about trying to find preparedness spokespeople from different areas including politics andÂ entertainment. While reporting those articles, I happened to hear about a preparedness spokesperson from a surprising arena — Jill (Stevens) Shepherd, the 2007 “Miss Utah,” who used citizen preparedness as her successful pageant issue platform.
Public preparedness is an atypical beauty pageant platform. But Shepherd does not have typical beauty pageant credentials. She had served as a combat medic for six years with the Utah National Guard (1st Battalion, 211th Aviation), including a year-long stint in Afghanistan at Bagram Airfield where she earned five medals for outstanding service.
Miss Utah & Army Combat Medic Sgt. Jill Shepherd
Shepherd entered her first pageant at Southern Utah University where she was studying for a degree in Nursing. But she was having a really difficult time coming up with a platform and did not want to do a traditional pageant “health and fitness” subject. Then, she drew a connection between her experience in Afghanistan where “you had to be ready for anything” with that Â of natural disasters and smaller emergencies back in Utah that civilians also had to be ready for anything. So, she made citizen emergency preparedness, with a particular focus on schools and students, her pageant platform.
In fact, Shepherd says sees a connection between her military service abroad and citizen preparedness at home as both involve a commitment from citizens to contribute in times of crisis. It is a great point. Last week, I wrote aÂ post about how Americans should view preparedness as personal responsibility and responsibility of citizenship. But I didn’t include the idea that preparing for disaster was a way that civilians could (and should) make a contribution to complement the work and sacrifice of their fellow citizens in the military. (I will be adding it to that previous post.)Â It would seem to be another good angle for preparedness messaging, adding to the “personal responsibility” approach.
Jill Shepherd being crowned Miss Utah.
Shepherd feels that preparedness twas a good fit with her background as a medic and what she wanted to talk about to audiences around the state (and believes it helped her win the Miss Utah pageant). She also reached the semi-finals of the 2008 Miss America pageant. Afterwards, Shepherd got involved with theÂ TeenCERT program at Eastern Michigan University and did public speaking on behalf of disaster readiness for young people. She is now an emergency room nurse at a Salt Lake City children’s hospital.
After I posted this, I got a Facebook comment from Robert Buzzard suggesting that Craig Fugate at FEMA ask Shepherd to again become a spokesperson for public preparedness; I think it’s a terrific idea.
Shepherd doing a school preparedness event as part of her “Miss Utah” responsibilities.