Helping Yourself by Helping Others Through FEMA Corps

February 14, 2024

For Madison Dobbertin, becoming a FEMA Corps associate has provided an experience that has been nothing short of transformative.

FEMA Corps associates are the backbone of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's mission, providing vital support during times of crisis. Whether it's responding to hurricanes, floods, wildfires, or other disasters, our team is always ready to lend a helping hand.

I grew up in New York. My father was a chief of a fire department, so from an early age I saw the benefit you can get by helping others. I started college thinking that I could do that by becoming a nurse. I started nursing school just as the COVID pandemic hit. It really tested me, and I found that I needed another path to help others and switched to a public health degree. As I got close to graduating, I saw FEMA Corps as an opportunity to help others and get experience in emergency management.

FEMA Corps associates come from all across the country. Applicants must be at least graduating high school and be between 18 and 26 years old when participating. Associates receive housing, a monthly stipend, and an education credit around $6,000 after completion.

Once my application was accepted, I was sent to Sacramento to begin my training. The training is designed to equip associates with the skills, knowledge, and mindset necessary to effectively contribute to FEMA's mission. After we completed training our team was assigned to be deployed to Florida for hurricane season. Our team drove across the country to get there, and I was not ready for how great that time with the team was. The time we shared, and the memories we made on the way really helped us as work together, and I really learned a lot about myself as well.

Our team worked through two hurricanes while in Florida. I first worked on making flood maps, to help identify hospitals and other key buildings that would be impacted by flooding. For the second hurricane, I worked directly with hurricane victims who needed immediate help applying for FEMA services. We walked door to door for 61 miles, checking in helping victims who needed medical equipment, recovery support, and being there in their time of need.

I’m now wrapping up my term at the FEMA Corps headquarters in Washington D.C. Here, the work is focused more on the coordination of disaster relief. I’m considering a future in emergency management. FEMA Corps associates have fast-track hiring with FEMA, so I’ve really given myself an option to continue this path in the future.

Being a FEMA Corps associate is more than a job; it's a calling. It's about making a difference when it matters most and being part of a team that stands ready to respond to the nation's emergencies. I am proud to be a FEMA Corps associate, contributing to a safer and more resilient future for all.

If you want to learn more about applying to FEMA Corps, go to

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