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. It is now available on both St. Thomas and St. Croix. 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!


Registration for the 2025 YOE Summer Program will re-open in January of 2025.




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. 
  • Howard Forbes Jr. (M.Sc.) - YOE Program Director 
    YOE team lead Howard Forbes Jr.
  • Jarvon Stout - YOE Coordinator (St. Thomas)YOE team lead Jarvon Stout
  • Jendahye Antoine (M.Sc.) - YOE Coordinator (St.Thomas)YOE team lead Jendahye Antoine
  • Shamoy Bideau (M.Sc.) - YOE Coordinator (St. Croix)YOE team lead Shamoy Bideau
  • Amber Knight - YOE Water Safety Instructor (St. Thomas)
  • YOE Team lead Amber Knight
  • Zoe Banfield - YOE Water Safety Instructor (St.Thomas)YOE Team lead Zoe Banfield
  • Kayden Richards - YOE Photographer (St.Thomas)YOE Photographer Kayden Richards
  • YOE Mentors - This could be you!YOE Mentors
  • First preference is given to youth from and/or currently residing in the Virgin Islands. 
  • On average, 20 students are selected to particpate each summer.
  • Applicant should meet either of the below criteria to be eligible to participate:
    • Applicant was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 
    • Applicant currently attends a school in the U.S. Virgin Islands (public, private, parochial, or homeschool),
    • Applicant has ties to the U. S. Virgin Islands through their immediate family, i.e. parent(s) are from the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is usually for cases where the applicant used to or no longer lives in the territory but may visit during the summer months.
  • Open to youth in grades 7-12 (ages 11-18).
  • Should already know how to swim and be comfortable being outdoors.
  • Should have in interest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics).
  • Student MUST be able to attend the entire program. (Plan your vacation accordingly).
  • The Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program and by extension our team is committed to increasing the representation of marginalized groups/communities within the geosciences (which includes marine science). 
  • The Ocean Explorers Summer Programs utilize the ocean as the lens through which we teach youth about marine science and its associated career paths.
  • The Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program is supported by the National Science Foundation's INCLUDES Program, specifically the S.E.A.S. (Supporting Emerging Aquatic Scientists Program) Islands Alliance Program. Through this pathway program, which can begin with the Ocean Explorers Summer Programs, provides youth with a unique perspective on the field of marine science by highlighting career opportunities within STEAM, direct engagement in local environmental issues, and professional development opportunities. This is a research study that utilizes surveys and in-person interviews to gain valuable feedback from students and parents about how the program has impacted their family; particaption is optional but is valued as it only serves to improve the program for future cohorts of students.  
  • The 2024 Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program will take place from July 8 - August 2. 
  • The YOE Summer Program operates on both St. Thomas and St. Croix.
  • Students meet daily at either UVI's Center for Marine and Environmental Science (St. Thomas campus) or at the Albert A Sheen UVI Campus on St. Croix from 9am - 4pm. 
  • Students will travel off-site for various field trip experiences such as kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, etc.
  • 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. 
  • Students connect virtually each week with diverse STEM professionals to gain deeper insight to what steps are needed to pursue a career within STEM and marine science. 
  • 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 APRIL 1.
  • Applicants applying for YOE on St. Thomas or St. Croix complete the same application process described below.
  • Your application consists of two parts: the PARENT APPLICATION and the STUDENT APPLICATION. Both are required and should be received no later than APRIL 1
  • The STUDENT APPLICATION should be completed by the applicant; guidance may be sought. However, the answers provided to the questions contained in that application should reflect the student's own words (i.e. do not copy and paste language derived from online sources or CHAT GPT).
  • Completed applications will be reviewed after APRIL 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.
  • Information about scholarships will be shared with selected applicants.
  • Scholarships for the 2024 Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program are 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. 
    • Partial Scholarship: Open to both local and non-local students who currently attend a private / parochial / homeschool in the USVI.
  • You can register for a scholarship by clicking HERE. The application consists of one short essay that the applicant should complete no later than May 31st, 2024
  • 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. 
  • "I clicked the "APPLY" button and am now on a page where I am being asked to enroll at the University." - Unfortunately, the APPLY button found on the right side of this page is a standard feature on all UVI webpages and cannot be removed. If you click on that button, simply hit the "BACK" button on your browser to return to this page. Registration for the YOE Summer Program can be found below.
  • "I submitted an application but did not receive an E-mail notification." - Upon submitting an application, you should receive an automatic notification stating,
    Thank you for submitting an application to take part in the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program. This is confirmation that your Parent Application has been received. Please note that your application is NOT complete until you submit the Student Assessment Form. Should you have any questions or concerns in the interim, please do not hesitate to contact Program Director Howard Forbes Jr. @ 340-693-1672 ( and Program Coordinator Jendahye Antoine ( A follow up E-mail will be sent to update you on your application status. 
  • "My child is interested in marine science but isn't a proficient swimmer. How should we proceed?" - The Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program curriculum includes some components of the Learn to Swim Program; however, it is recommended that the applicant practice their swimming skills prior to enrolling into YOE. This can include flotation without aid, use of snorkel equipment, and proper hand and feet movements while swimming. 
  • "I wanted to apply for a scholarship. How do I do that?" - Our team will E-mail selected applicants with information on how to register for a scholarship; please check your E-mail as to not miss these updates. 
  • "When do I process payment?" If you have been selected to participate in the YOE Summer Program, an E-mail will be sent to you with specific instructions on how you can process payment with the University's Cashier's Office. Please check your E-mail as to not miss any important updates.
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





Both the Parent and Student Applications are required to complete your Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program application packet. Please plan accordingly so that you can complete your applicatoin before the registration deadline.


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. This portion of the application will be used by our team to make our selection of the cohort of students as we usually receive more applications than we have available spots. The Student Assessment Form includes 4 short essay questions and a video response.
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, you 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.


Below you can find volunteering opportunities for youth to complete their YOE Scholarship obligations. 
Mangrove Restoration Project Logo


Mangroves are truly amazing at protecting our shorelines and providing habitat for wildlife. Interested volunteers can asisst our team with the planting and monitoring of mangroves.


Phone  Email Social Media 




Businees Hours  Monday - Friday (8:30 AM - 4:30 PM)


Offices  St. Thomas - UVI's Center for Marine and Environmental Studies 

St. Croix - Albert A Sheen Campus