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!
Howard Forbes Jr. (MSc.)
"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,
(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."
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."
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
(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."
(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."
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 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."
A SUMMER EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER!
Where the ocean is your classroom!
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE YOUTH OCEAN EXPLORERS SUMMER PROGRAM
Modeled after the Youth Ocean Explorers experience, our team also coordinates the
Junior Ocean Explorers Summer Program which is open to students in Grades 3-6 and focuses on the fundamentals of swimming, snorkeling, and marine flora and fauna
identification. This 2 week experience serves as many students' initial introduction
to the marine sciences and swimming/snorkeling. JOE helps students develop a strong
foundation for their swimming and snorkeling skills so that by the time they are eligible
for YOE, they are confident and adept while in the water. YOE students spend most
days snorkeling to explore underwater habitats such as coral reefs and seagrass beds;
therefore it is important for selected YOE students to already have the basics of
swimming and snorkeling.
The YOE Summer Program is built upon collaborations. Each summer, we leverage the
knowledge and expertise of our community partners such as the Division of Fish and
Wildlife to offer a fishing clinic for our students. At these fishing clinics, students
get to learn about fishing practices and regulations of the USVI as well as experience
fishing first-hand. But most importantly, they get to connect with diverse STEM professionals
who highlight potential career pathways to inspire the next generation of ocean scientists.
Featured here is Nicole Greaux, Caribbean Fisheries Management Council (CMFC) Liason
and Reef Responsible Training Educator.
Preservation of our natural resources includes those both underwater and on land.
Students enrolled in the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program learn through hands-on
activities, how our actions on land can affect coastal ecosystems and animals. Activities
are infused with various elements of STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics); classroom presentations are made interactive through the use of virtual reality, giving students the opportunity to explore these unique habitats, first, in a safe
virtual environment. This increases students comfortability and sense of familiarility
when we explore these habitats as part of our field-based activities. Here students
are using the PlantNet app to identify plants/shrubs/trees found in a USVI watershed.
Although not a requirement for being a marine scientist, interested YOE students are
able to acquire their scuba certification(s) during the four weeks of the program.
Students enrolled in the open water scuba course will complete a combination of E-learning
and in-person diving practicals; students who are already open water scuba certified
and are elligible can be recommended for the advanced open water or other speciality
scuba course. We work with various dive shops around the USVI such as the Coki Dive Center and the Cane Bay Dive Center for scuba trainings/certifications and the Red Hook Dive Center for providing fun, refresher dives for students post-program completion.
YOE students are provided with opportunities to utililize their knowledge and skills
obtained during the program in real-world applications. Students that have earned
their scuba diving certification are able to participate in the Youth Diving With a Purpose Program (YDWP) based in Fort Lauderdale during the summer months. There, they can network
with other diverse scuba divers as well as assist with coral restoration efforts and
engage in archaeological diving. Featured here is St. Croix YOE student Maleyah Navarro
cleaning acropora coral during YDWP. Learn More About Youth Diving With A Purpose
The Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program is part of a much larger National Science
Foundation (NSF) funded research effort that aims to increase the participation and
representation of underserved minorities within STEM and the geosciences which have
historically lacked Diversity. The S.E.A.S. (Supporting Emerging Aquatic Scientists) Islands Alliance program builds a pathway for students at various education levels (grade school,
college, and post-graduate) to not only be introduced/engaged with the geosciences
but to also see themselves as future scientists. Pictured here is one of the principles
of S.E.A.S. in action, Family Engagement. During the program, we invite YOE students
and their families to actvities such as a nighttime shoreline walk where parents get
to witness first-hand what has captivated their child's interest each day in YOE.
Opportunities such as these, are indeed exciting, but serve a larger goal of helping
to increase a student's interest and engagement within STEM.
YOE SUMMER PROGRAM OVERVIEW
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
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
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
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
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.
WHAT DO STUDENTS SAY ABOUT YOE
"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
LET'S GET YOU REGISTERED!
Registration consists of several components but can be completed on your own time.
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.
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.
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!
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.