Volunteer Spotlight – Aaron Salyers

I was involved with CEDR briefly in 2017 and then I’ve been back since June 2021.

I handle the administration of IT systems/services and assisting in setting policy. I also work with Innovation to enable new and improved CEDR operations and projects. I’m motivated to continue to work with CEDR by the importance of the mission and the people involved.

I’m proud of contributing to ongoing innovation efforts in any way possible to help CEDR reach further and respond faster and more efficiently.

The most important work that CEDR does, in my opinion, is providing up to the minute updates to people experiencing natural disasters and helping to coordinate efforts to help them.

When I’m not volunteering with CEDR, I work in Information Security and Cloud Computing. I also enjoy travel, cooking, and gaming.

Volunteer Spotlight – Nicole Kluenker

I became involved with CEDR in Spring of 2021. I’m the wildfire channel lead, so I manage the activation level and CEDR’s response to wildfires across the nation. I monitor social media during incidents for information from responding agencies and municipalities, send out pertinent information on our Twitter and Facebook for evacuations and stay apprised of red flag warnings and fire weather watches. I also work to stay up to date on shelter locations, with a special eye for large animal shelters and livestock needs.

I’m motivated by a lot of things in combination. I’ve always enjoyed community service and I have a strong sense of duty when it comes to helping people and animals using any skills I possess. I live in California, where wildfires have been part of my life forever, and I’m part of the ranching community where we stick together and protect each other. I also love learning, and tracking fire behavior and weather has been a hobby since the Camp Fire in 2018. I have my Master’s in Public Health, and a large part of the field is an ethical imperative to help protect the public. Volunteering with CEDR lets me indulge all those facets of my being.

I’m most proud of my contributions during fire evacuations and applying knowledge gained from my MPH to solutions CEDR needs.Our shelter mapping and evacuation messaging are both critical, and our shelter maps have been used by emergency management agencies and first responders.

When I’m not working or volunteering, I crochet, enjoy time with my goats, cats, dogs and horses and enjoy both binge reading and watching with my partner.

Volunteer Spotlight – Scott Adams

I started volunteering with CEDR in July 2021. During our busier seasons I mostly try to help with the data-mining – searching for new information on current incidents. I also enjoy learning more about GIS systems for mapping all this information we have at our fingertips now. But lately I’ve transitioned into creating on an internal tool to try to help CEDR volunteers with the repetitive tasks we need to do.

I’m most motivated because I’m in California and the wildfires we’ve been having the last few years have been getting worse and worse. Several have been close to loved ones. With wildfires becoming more prevalent in and near populated places it’s more important than ever to keep people aware of what dangers they need to be prepared for. The threats aren’t stopping, so I’m not stopping.

The contribution I’m most proud of is the internal tool I’ve created for CEDR volunteers. It’s still in the early phases, but if it turns into a useful tool for CEDR I’ll be very proud to have been able to help with that.

I think the most important work that CEDR does is a combination of curating information the public needs without the unnecessary “fluff” unrelated to the types of incidents we track, and our growing shelter map. Information for the now. Information for people to know in order to preserve life and property before disaster strikes, and what to do and where to go when it strikes.And just a tiny bit less important than those is our maps and animations that show people the scale of wildfires and damage from hurricanes for the people outside of the danger zone to understand. Information for the sustained efforts of helping people recover from incidents: physical needs, monetary needs, and just the core connection we feel when our fellow humans are dealing with loss. It can be very easy for news to feel like it’s happening to other people who don’t matter to you when you only see the headlines. But I think the pandemic has made most people realize that the whole planet is much more interdependent than we ever realized.

My current job is full-time stay-at-home-dad and it’s the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I have three sons currently aged 7, 8 and 9. I mostly do my CEDR volunteer work when the kids are in school or asleep. The rest of my time is devoted to keeping my kids alive and well. The pandemic has kept us pretty isolated, but we do try to get out to our local parks and paths for play time, and we walk as much as we can. When I’m not working or volunteering, I also enjoy 3D printing, electronics, and home automation. Before becoming a stay-at-home-dad, I mostly did technical jobs dealing with information technology and audio/visual.

Volunteer Spotlight – Chris Graziul

I can proudly say that I was involved with CEDR since Day 1. I was part of a wonderfully diverse, creative, and motivated group of individuals with a shared vision of what digital helpers can do to help during a disaster. We saw major gaps in how vital information was being shared and found ways to help connect those affected by disaster with those trained to keep us all safe.

I currently serve as Chair of the Board of Directors, a rotating position. My primary activities are focused on strategic planning to ensure CEDR and its volunteers have the resources needed to succeed. I also collaborate with the Board to develop long-term development plans to ensure CEDR remains a useful source of information for the public and a resource for emergency responders. These tasks include difficult discussions about how CEDR is best positioned to help others, not just what “the power of the crowd” can accomplish. By focusing on our unique strengths, I and the Board continually strive to raise CEDR’s profile as a valuable source of reliable information when people are at their most vulnerable during a disaster.

I’m most motivated to stay involved with CEDR because of the people! Members of our Board have diverse professional backgrounds, ranging from IT security to health research to project management, which provide essential perspectives about not just how to meet CEDR’s needs but how to navigate the difficult ethical and operational questions associated with disseminating realtime information as disasters unfold. However, our rank and file volunteers are what inspire me the most. CEDR has no paid positions, yet total strangers come together on a regular basis to work long hours to help realize our shared goal: Help people keep themselves safe when disaster strikes. As a data scientist with a PhD in sociology, I know this kind of collective action is rare, thus we need to respect and highlight the crucial work our volunteers do on a daily basis. They are the ones trailblazing entirely new ways to support communities, even new ways to be a community in the digital era. 

I am most proud to see CEDR continue doing what it does best, year after year: Help. Whatever my personal contribution has been, it pales in comparison to the joint effort necessary just to found CEDR Digital Corps let alone the energy needed to respond – quickly, deliberately, and appropriately – to countless disasters across the United States. The fact that this work continues on a regular basis using a standard playbook CEDR volunteers developed over time makes me smile every time I think about it, even as I write about it now.  

The most important work that CEDR does is providing reliable information to disaster victims in a timely manner. The federated nature of disaster response in the United States makes this work all the more vital since there exist few channels of communication between most government entities in charge of emergency management, even between adjacent counties. Filling that information gap, alone, provides a valuable service for both citizens and government organizations.

When I’m not working or volunteering, I love spending time with my family, but I also enjoy restoring vintage (i.e., vacuum tube) audio equipment. My proudest achievement, so far, has been restoring a Bogen RP-235 broadcast receiver. I also enjoy online gaming. During the pandemic, I was able to reconnect with old friends in New Jersey through weekly Civilization VI multiplayer games, though I’ve also led my share of (vanilla) World of Warcraft raids, too. 

Explore Free Courses During COVID

This #holiday season we’ve been sharing with our followers, resources our volunteers have found to be helpful in getting through this pandemic. Today we will share additional FREE resources our volunteers have used either to learn something new or to explore something that has always interested them. We invite you to take a look at these online resources and see if any of these capture your interest during this pandemic.

These learning opportunities run the gamut from simply exploring a hobby, classes in skills development, to the introduction of  courses in a variety of subjects. Several give you an opportunity to earn academic credit or professional certifications. A few resources provide advanced level business or computer science courses.  Many of the introductory online courses can be done in one day, while others require small chunks of time over a week or more.

Some of our own volunteers have used this time to finally dive deep into that hobby they always wanted time for, or they have acquired new skills that will help them move forward in their current careers. Others have used this time and these resources to alter the direction of their lives and have begun to pivot into new career paths. Some of these opportunities end soon so please review and explore them soon!

Learn a New Skill or Hobby While Staying Busy


Coursera has hundreds of free courses that can be finished in under 8 hours. Topics vary from Cooking, Psychological First Aid, Child Nutrition to Introduction to Computer Programming or if you prefer, you can choose longer courses or programs, such Computer Programming Certificates.


Teach your cat to give a high five, learn to make kombucha, become a better dancer, improve your handwriting, and more with these Youtube tutorials.


Lifehack believes in acquiring skills that multiply your time, energy and overall quality of life. Explore their personal development fast track classes to jumpstart your transformation.


There are plenty of free niche courses online such as bird identification or All About Fancy Males, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, daily instrumental ukulele, harmonica, baritone uke, and guitar classes from music teacher Gary Jugart, and drawing lessons from Drawing Coach.


Want to know more about how disasters are handled by FEMA, how you can prepare for the impacts of disasters on your pets or livestock, or how your community emergency response team operates? FEMA has a course for you!

Khan Academy

Free online advanced high school and college level courses where you can learn about, or brush up on, many levels of astronomy, math, art, computer programming, economics, physics, chemistry, biology, finance, history, and more.


Check your local library to see if they provide access to Lynda.com or Udemy.com. Both offer a wide variety of classes. In addition, your library may subscribe to Mango, a language-learning database, if you’re interested in diving into a whole new language. You’re paying for access to these databases with your tax dollars – use them!



Courses on computer and software skills ranging from computer basics and typing tutorials to Microsoft Office 2016, as well as topics as diverse as critical thinking, algebra basics, and digital photography. Many courses are available in different languages.


The G Suite Learning Center provides 10- to 15-minute micro-learning modules to equip you to use Google’s GSuite (Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive).


Lessons range from 45 minutes to 10 hours on G Suite software and topics such as preparing for the FAFSA, building your online business, and using Google to get a new job.


Digital skills help us connect, learn, engage, and create more promising futures. Learn how to effectively use devices, Microsoft software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), and the internet to collaborate with others and discover, use and create information.


If you’re looking to make a bigger time commitment or do a deep dive on something you’ve been hoping to learn then explore the offerings at Openculture. It has a catalog of 1,500 free online courses from major universities via learning platforms such as EdX and Coursera.


Start developing your skills for free with learning paths from LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn, then practice tech skills in the GitHub Learning Lab. Also, learn how the skills you already have map to thousands of jobs with LinkedIn’s Career Explorer tool.

Harvard University

Harvard offers a variety of open learning opportunities, including free online courses in a variety of subjects from Astronomy and Buddhism to Politics and Philosophy. A full list of online courses at Harvard is available through the link and through their edX learning platform which offers over 3.000 courses.

Website Design: HTML5 & CSS3 for Absolute Beginners  

In this free series you will learn all the foundational principles of website design in a self-paced 21 episodes course where you will learn and use CSS and HTML to build websites.


Alison offers a wide range of free basic/introductory courses in a broad range of subjects from business startup topics to marketing, in addition to their core IT management, networking, security, hardware, software and game development. While courses are free to participate in (by watching ads), if you complete a certificate or diploma course, you’ll need to pay a fee to get a printed or digital certificate. You also can opt to pay for a premium account for around $9 per month to remove ads, access to more advanced level classes, and additional features such as discounts on certificate fees.

Worker Safety Training

Free online worker safety training from the University of Utah and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences which provides expert guidance on health, safety, virus prevention, employee rights, and COVID-19 policy in the workplace.


Free IBM Professional Training & Skills

IBM offers free online training courses, designed to build valuable skills and improve your  productivity. They include foundational soft skills programs as well as technical training. Many courses offer free digital certificates to help you build your professional credentials.

PBS TeacherLine

PBS TeacherLine is one of the top professional development resources delivering self-paced certified courses online for PreK through Grade 12 teachers.

Machine Learning

Carnegie Mellon University is offering a free introductory self-paced class on Machine Learning for those computer science peeps interested in exploring this subject. 


Udemy is for professional adults who need to enhance their skills to continue advancing in their career. Some courses are free, while some are available at a fee — it depends on the course and instructor. However, paid courses won’t break the bank, as most go on sale for as low as $9.99, so you can typically find a good deal (especially around the holidays).

Helping Teens During COVID

Are your teens being challenged by COVID19 restrictions? Do you find your teens exhibiting unusual behavior or find they are just being different since the pandemic began?

Adolescence is not only a time of great physical change in a young person’s life during normal times, it’s also a time when change is felt very deeply. During a pandemic, some changes can become overwhelming or additional forms of stress for these young adults.  Several sources of teen stress can include:

  • Changes in their appearance or body
  • School demands and frustrations
  • Negative feelings about themselves
  • Problems with peers at school
  • Separation or divorce of Parents
  • Illness or death of a loved one
  • Moving or changing schools
  • Family financial problems
  • Restricting favorite activities

Recognizing a change in your teen’s mood or behavior is the first step in being able to provide support to them. HealthyChildren.org has a page on ways parents can identify changes in their teens, as well as suggestions on how to provide support to them, as well as how to enlist support from health professionals, such as your teen’s pediatrician.

The mental health professionals at Child Mind Institute offer tips and provide a list of resources for parenting teenagers (and young adults suddenly home from college) during the pandemic.

The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) has compiled a list of mental health resources on a wide variety of Teen Mental Health subjects, from addiction issues to strategies on parenting young adults in close quarters.

Last on our list are two organizations where parents can find guidance on how to support teens dealing with trauma or grief.  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has created three separate guides for parents on how to help young adults cope with trauma, loss and grief. You can find all three guides on this page.

The mental and healthcare professionals at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta have dedicated a section of their website for parents and caregivers who want to support teens through the various stages of grief. They provide support for this and many other topics on their Strong4Life website.

Additional resources can be accessed by teens directly through the links below:

Working from Home with Children Without Losing Your Mind + 8 Resources to Help

Two parents trying to work remotely with children underfoot

By Guest Author/ CEDR Volunteer – Sandi Luipersbeck

So, you checked your email last week only to learn that your company was sending workers home to telecommute. Now you’re getting ready to try to accomplish your basic work tasks while trying to determine what your children will be doing for school, and wondering how in the world you’ll meet all your deadlines. Before you start pulling out your hair and running for the exits, there are a few basic things to remember which I will share below along with 8 resources to help during this time.

Determine What Resources are Being Offered
First, determine what resources your local school system will be providing you with if any. In some areas, schools are providing parents with access to distance learning materials so that they can access full courses with live instructors online. In other areas, schools are providing parents with take-home educational packets. And in some locations parents are being asked to homeschool their children for an indefinite period of time. Your first step is to determine what educational resources are being offered to you, so you’ll know if you need to create a curriculum, find a pre-created curriculum, or use the curriculum that is being provided.

You’re in Uncharted Territory
Keep in mind that no one knows how to do what you’re doing “correctly” because as a nation we’re all exploring new territory. This is the first time, historically, that we’ve needed to be able to work from home in technological careers while teaching and entertaining our children. Previous generations were able to manage working, schooling, and housekeeping by focusing on one task at a time, but that’s often difficult as modern tasks multiply. Once you know which type of schooling you’ll be responsible for, you’ll be able to work your child’s education into the daily flow of your household.

Go Easy on Yourself
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to accomplish as much as you can at the office – go easy on yourself, and on your colleagues. Everyone is dealing with a large amount of stress at the moment. Deadlines may need to be adjusted, dates may need to be rearranged, and projects may not move along as quickly as they would if everyone was working in the office. It’s important to understand that it’ll take some time for everyone to get up to speed. Your children may also take some time to adjust to the new situation and settle into the new routine. Again, go easy on yourself, as this is a novel situation for everyone.

Keep Timing in Mind
As you go through your day, both careful timing and flexibility will be important. Set aside specific chunks of your day for dedicated, focused work. This may be time when your child is sleeping, entertained with another activity, or working on their schoolwork. Use other blocks of time for less focused work like returning phone calls, making lists, returning emails, and organizing your tasks. As you adapt to working from home, you’ll develop a “flow” of accomplishing your daily business tasks while also caring for your family. You can plan for breaks for meals, time to review schoolwork, and any quieter times that various family members will need throughout the day, as well. 

CEDR will be offering ongoing blog posts about adjusting to telecommuting, handling education from home, additional resources for parents, and managing a household during a crisis. Feel free to drop a comment below with any suggestions or specific topics that you’d like to see.

Here are 8 resources and fun hacks you can use to educate your children during a quarantine:

Since there have been many #schoolclosures announced today, we are separating the #coronavirus #resources from the #COVID19 stats to provide you with #hacks and all you need to keep your sanity while being the coolest #Parents on the planet. Please RT this so others can find. Thx! Articles on how to talk to our youngest children about the #Coronavirus #COVID19: https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/3210-tips-for-families-talking-about-the-coronavirus

Educational Entertainment is going to be important while the kids are home. Reward children for completing their work and chores on schedule with extra viewing time; the catch is it can only be via free streaming on PBS. Elmo will be happy to see them. https://www.pbs.org/

Raising Dragons is a fun website that help get kids interestested in science. Activities are by age and parent involvement varies. Don’t forget to create a bookmark section to revisit the sites you find interesting and useful. https://www.raisingdragons.com/

Afraid your child might not learn or be left behind educationally? A great free resource is Khan’s Academy. They offer personalized learning to students of all ages including those AP subjects that can be challenging for Juniors and Seniors. #CEDRdigital volunteers highly reccomend: https://www.khanacademy.org/

And how about instead of going to the zoo, we bring the zoo to you. Join the Cincinnati Zoo for a virtual Home Safari. They are live each weekday at 3pm EST where they will highlight one of their amazing animals and include an activity you can do at home. https://facebook.com/cincinnatizoo/photos/a.96076385478/10158043842200479/?type=3&theater

And just because your indoors does NOT mean you get to skip Phys Ed. There are plenty of free kid-friendly yoga classes that parents can join in on. My son’s all-time favorite is Goat Yoga with Kids from Iowa PBS. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Vtfkq2HvwI

Finally, something you both can share… quiet time…in the form of a guided meditation. Headspace and YouTube have free guided meditations for kids. It’s a great way to get frustrated ansty kids to relax and its an activity you can both do together or apart.

Don’t forget to visit our website for more tips, hacks & resources:
Homeschooling Week 1
Homeschooling Week 2

Mental Health in the time of #COVID19

We have all been feeling the stress. I can see it on the unfriendly and unhelpful comments online and in the stress from volunteers that have been at this for 65 days without a break. So this post’s focus will be on sharing resources for self-care and mental health .

We all need to find some mental tools that will help us develop resilience if we’re going to get through this emerging national tragedy and help our children and ourselves overcome our loss and find ways to move forward and thrive.

A great resource for children and their parents/caregivers is from the Nat’l Child Traumatic Stress Network. Their 5page guide provides great tips.

That Discomfort You’re Feeling…. Is Grief”  an excellent article from Harvard Business Review identifying the collective sentiment being felt by those forced to #StayAtHome in some form of self-isolation

Two weeks ago the World Health Org posted a 6 page guide on: “Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During the #Covid_19 Outbreak” with information focused on different segments of populations impacted: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf

The National Alliance on Mental Health/Illness has a free helpline where you can get help, information and resources:
NAMI HelpLine Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., EST
(800) 950-6264

They also have this downloadable guide as a starting point: #COVID19 #CORONAVIRUS INFO & RESOURCES: https://bit.ly/3auyio2

Our last resource is the person that inspired this entire post: Eileen M. Feliciano, Psy.D. She is a clinical psychologist from NY who is sharing mental health quarantine tips with her followers on facebook here: https://bit.ly/2vYiE5v
Above and below you will see 2 of our most recent favorite self-care tips she shared. Here’s hoping your week is a better one!

#StayHome & Have Fun Despite COVID19 Lockdown

For those that want to analyze every aspect of the #coronavirus the NY Times has lifted its paywall and is tracking all aspect of COVID19: nyt.com


Because its the start of the weekend we are offering entertainment resources for individuals of all ages:

Many of our volunteers were excited about these and pushed them to the front of the line. The first is for parents who need leverage or incentive for their kids to finish homework/chores, Epic Games is offering access to games for free for info visit: https://www.epicgames.com/

For aspiring or established writers, if you missed the Bravewriters Conference don’t despair, you can still replay all the sessions for free. Visit their page for a preview: https://bravewriter.com/about/homebound/homebound-conference?fbclid=IwAR1oPiM2ribTuqUmy4Q283cGZ4oc7EntJ3BkOyakh7hc2LhljoGr4Vj4PaM

For booklovers:
Many of your local libraries are offering free downloads for books and films for audiences of all ages. If your favorite book is a classic consider downloading and permanently having it on your electronic device from Project Gutenberg:

Social Distancing may be keeping you indoors but that doesn’t mean family fun has to stop. Good Housekeeping has compiled a list of zoos and animals you can visit, and virtual rides you can try before paying the hefty price of admission.  https://bit.ly/2xr52jE

For those missing their sports or cultural event – we highly recommend you explore the following:

Finally for those needing to forget the world and who wish they could go out… the Comedy club comes to you via instagram’s “Co-Watch{ feature.
Make it a date with a love interest. For info visit: https://bit.ly/2QOWQAg

COVID19 Connecting While Social Distancing

Plan your #COVID19 weekend entertainment so you can attend virtual concerts, watch movies, etc w/friends

Below is a fun educational resource to keep children entertained while being educated: Free Audible Stories for kids of all ages to listen to from hundreds of Audible titles across six languages— so they can keep learning, dreaming and just being kids. https://stories.audible.com/start-listen

YouTube aims to help parents during this #Coronavirus quarantine by providing you with online educational resources:

  • Learning @ Home for young learners: https://bit.ly/2xsdJKx
  • Learning for all ages: https://bit.ly/33Nt5W1

We just discovered that Chrome has an extension you can download so you & your friends can watch Netflix remotely but together and chat: Netflix Party Makes for a great “Virtual Date” >>> https://www.netflixparty.com/

Instagram has a new Co-Watch feature that lets you share what your watching (stories, videos, or posts) with others. To learn more about how to use this feature visit:

Join us for a concert… at an Online Music & Events Festival – a virtual music & dance festival you can watch simultaneously with thousands of old & new friends. Check out their Calendar & make your virtual group hangout plans for this weekend: https://buff.ly/2QQsNZ7