Youth Ocean Explorers



YOE Logo

The Youth Ocean Explorers (YOE) Summer Program, which started in 2015, is a 4-week, hands-on marine science program for middle to high school-aged students interested in exploring our oceans. Each week, our team of informal science educators and youth mentors engage students on various topics such as animal and plant identification, careers in marine science, and environmental impacts to natural resources. Dive in and join our Youth Ocean Explorers family today!


Contact us if you are interested in joining our Ocean Explorers Team!
YOE Team Member Forbes
Howard Forbes Jr. (MSc.) (Program Director)
"I am one of the Red Cross certified lifeguards for the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program as well as one of the contributors to the program's content design, funding, and logistics."
YOE Team Lead Stout
Jarvon Stout (STT Program Coordinator)
"As one of the Red Cross certified lifeguards for the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program, I aid in the program's content design and activity facilitation with a particular focus on marine animals."
YOE Team Lead Jen
Jendahye Antoine (MSc.) (STT Program Coordinator)
"Hey there! I am one of the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program content contributors, logistics leads, and activity facilitators."
YOE Team Lead Shamoy
Shamoy Bideau (STX Program Coordinator)
"I am one of the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program content contributors, logistics leads, and activity facilitators. My background in coral ecology is infused throughout each lesson."
YOE Team Lead Zoe
Zoe Banfield (Water Safety Instructor)
"Coach Zoe here! I am one of the Red Cross certified Water Safety Instructors for the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program; my focus is on teaching swimming fundamentals, ensuring water safety, and activity facilitation."
YOE Team Lead Amber
Amber Knight (Water Safety Instructor)
"As one of the Red Cross certified Water Safety Instructors for the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program, my focus is on teaching swimming fundamentals, ensuring water safety, and activity facilitation."
YOE Mentor
YOE Mentors
We recruit past program participants, high school, undergraduate, and graduate level students to assist with daily program activities. Mentors receive a monetary stipend for their time based on their current education level and funding availability.
YOE Photographer Kayden
YOE Photographer (Kayden Richards) 
"Hey there! I am one of the lead photographers for the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program, capturing each student's successes through my camera lens."



Where the ocean is your classroom!




Within this section, you can learn more about 1) Elligibity requirements for students interested in attending YOE, 2) What the overal program structure is like for both students and mentors, and 3) Important information on the registration, payment, and cancellation processes. 
  • Open to youth in grades 7-12 (ages 11-18).
  • Should already know how to swim and be comfortable being outdoors.
  • First preference is given to youth from and/or currently residing in the Virgin Islands.
  • Should have in interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).
  • Student MUST be able to attend the entire program. (Plan your vacation accordingly).
  • Program operates for 4 consecutive weeks between July and August..
  • Monday/Wednesday: Zoom sessions for 1 hour 
    Tuesday/Thursday/Friday: In-person field-based activities; full day (9:00 am - 4:00 pm).
  • Students will receive a variety of gear and supplies prior to the start of the program; this can include the following: backpacks, reusable water bottles, snorkel guideboooks, rash guards, etc.
  • Students meet daily through a combination of virtual and in person activities. 
  • Housing is not provided as this is not an overnight program.
  • Lunches are catered and optional (Please be sure to indicate ALL known allergies of the applicant (if applicable) when registering.
  • Students that have previously participated in YOE and are at least at the 10th grade level are elligible to apply to be a YOE mentor.
  • YOE mentors assist the team with the development and facilitation of the program's activities as well as ensuring the safety of participants. 
  • Mentors receive Emergency First Responder training prior to the start of the program. 
  • Mentors are also eligible to earn their scuba certification if interested.
  • Selected mentors receive a monetary stipend at the conclusion of the program. 
  • Stipend amounts vary based on the students current education level (High School / Undergraduate / Graduate) and available funding for that year. 
  • In collaboration with several dive shops across the USVI, students interested in getting scuba certified can do so during YOE. 
  • Students interested in earning their PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) scuba certification can indicate their interest during the registration process. 
  • Students meet at their respective dive shops on Saturdays (Sunday sessions can be arranged upon request); on St. Thomas, students meet at the Coki Dive Center whereas students on St. Croix meet at the Cane Bay Dive Shop in Fredericksted. 
  • Prior to starting the scuba course, students will be required to:
    • Complete the Medical Questionnaire provided to them via E-mail and
    • Complete the Discover Dive proctored by the dive shop. 
  • The scuba course (Open Water) entails a combination of E-learning with in-person diving instruction. Students are encouraged to dedicate the necessary time to complete the E-learning components of the course.
  • Students already open water scuba certified and are of age would be eligible to be enrolled in either the Advanced Open Water course or a Specialty Dive such as Peak Performance Buoyancy. 
  • Registration for YOE opens each year on JANUARY 1 and closes firmly on MAY 1.
  • Your application consists of two parts: the PARENT APPLICATION and the STUDENT APPLICATION. Both are required and should be received no later than MAY 1
  • Completed applications will be reviewed after MAY 1; applicants will be notified of the selection process via E-mail. 
  • Additional forms such as media releases and liability waivers will be shared with selected applicants prior to the start date of the program; please check your E-mail regularly as to not miss any important program information. 
  • Selected applicants are required to pay a one-time program fee of $400 which covers all program-related costs such as student supplies, field trip expenses, lunches, and scuba training.
  • Payment can be made in person or over the phone with the cashiers on either the Albert A. Sheen (St. Croix) UVI Campus (340-692-4160) or at the Orville E. Kean (St. Thomas) UVI Campus (340-693-1437); forms of payment accepted include cash, check, or credit card. 
  • Scholarships are available which can cover registration and scuba costs.
  • Scholarships can be full or partial with the requirement that recipients volunteer at a minimum of 3 community service events hosted by either VIMAS, VI-EPSCoR, or DPNR before DECEMBER 31 of the year the scholarship was awarded. Additional information about these events will be shared both during and after the program concludes. 
    • Full Scholarship: Eligible to students who were either born in the USVI and/or currently attends a public school in the USVI. 
    • Partial Scholarship: Eligible to both local and non-local students who currently attend a private / parochial / homeschool in the USVI.
  • Students can withdraw prior to the start date of the program to receive a full refund of any monies paid to date. 
  • If a student withdraws after the program has already started, no refunds will be issued. 
YOE Background Image, Baitfish and Tarpon Swimming


"I can confidently say that YOE was a life changing experience. As I aspire to become a Marine Biologist, this program was able to give me a little taste of what that life would consist of. I was able to meet amazing and knowledgeable people along the way, as well as see marine animals that I would’ve never imagined seeing this early in my life." - YOE 2023 Student Nakyala King



Registration consists of several components but can be completed on your own time.


YOE students planting mangroves
This portion of the YOE application process should be completed by the parent or legal guardian and provides our team with important information such as the applicant's t-shirt / shoe size, known allergies, and emergency contact information.
YOE students taking notes on coral species observed.
This component of the YOE application should be completed by the applicant. It contains 3 short essay questions and a required video that the applicant will create and upload to this DROPBOX folder that explains why they think they should be selected for the program. Think of the video as an interview; be creative and concise.
YOE mentors assisting students with getting snorkel equipment
If you previously participated in YOE or are a highschool or college student interested in being a YOE mentor are encouraged to apply. Mentors assist with day-to-day activities, provide guidance and support to student participants, and are paid for their support of YOE!
International Coastal Cleanup 2023 Logo


Coastweeks Cleanups officially start on September 16, 2023 and continue through to October 29, 2023. These cleanups are an easy way to earn community service hours as well as help remove marine debris from coastal habitats.


Our team is happy to help you.

Office Phone: (340) 693-1672
E-mail: (
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Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service
Center for Marine and Environmental Studies
University of the Virgin Islands