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. YOE utilizes best practices in science education and youth
development to provide a fun, unique and educational experience for students in grades
7-12. 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. Students can also earn their PADI
open water scuba certification from the Coki Dive Center and
Cane Bay Dive Shop which helps to further their love for the ocean! Dive in and join our Youth Ocean
Explorers family today!
Our team consists of several youth engagement professionals as well as students that
are hired each summer as program mentors.
Howard Forbes Jr.
YOE Program Director
Program registration/funding/logistics lead and Red Cross certified lifeguard
YOE Program Coordinator
Program lesson plan design/facilitator and Red Cross certified lifeguard
YOE Program Mentor
(Open to high school, undergraduate, and graduate level students)
YOE mentors assist program staff with lesson facilitation and oversee activity progression
within their student group
Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program students refine their snorkeling skills to explore
underwater habitats such as coral reefs and seagrass beds. Building upon the aquatic
and safety skills students learn in our Junior Ocean Explorers Summer Program (grades 3-6), YOE students develop a greater sense of environmental stewardship and awareness
of the natural resources, those both on land and underwater.
Learn More About Junior Ocean Explorers
Through their exploration of careers within the marine sciences, students also get
to learn the basics of sailing, tying knots, and maritime safety. This opportunity
was made possible through our partnership with the nonprofit organization Common Tides.
Learn More About Common Tides
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 based in Fort Lauderdale during the summer months. There, they can network with other
diverse divers as well as assist with coral restoration efforts.
Learn More About Youth Diving With A Purpose
Students that return in subsequent years can apply to work (paid position) in the
capacity of a YOE mentor where they assist program staff with the day to day operations
of the program. This provides students with an opportunity to give back to the program
and earn valuable experience that can open doors for their academic and career goals.
Register To Be A YOE Mentor
In 2019, a YOE component was launched on the island of St. Croix which is made possible
through partnerships with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the
Virgin Islands National Park Service. Participants can enjoy exploring the mangroves
at Salt River Bay as well as assisting the National Park Service with their annual
sea turtle monitoring program on Buck Island.
Register for YOE St. Croix
Through a partnership with the National Science Foundation funded S.E.A.S. (Supporting Emerging Aquatic Scientists) Islands Alliance Program, YOE students are provided with continued support
post program completion.
Learn More About S.E.A.S. Islands Alliance
- Open to youth in grades 7-12 (ages 11-18).
- Should already know how to swim.
- 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).
- Program operates for 4 consecutive weeks; July 3-28.
- Monday/Wednesday: Zoom sessions for 1 hour
Tuesday/Thursday/Friday: In-person field-based activities; full day (9:00 am - 4:00
- Scuba courses operate on weekends at the dive shop.
- Students meet daily through a combination of virtual and in person activities.
- Housing is not provided as this is not an overnight program.
- One-time registration fee of $400 which covers all program-related costs.
- Scholarships are available for local students which can cover registration and scuba
- Registration for YOE opens each year on January 1 and closes firmly on May 1.
Let's Get You Registered! Registration consists of several components but can be completed on your own time.
- The YOE application consists of 2 parts; the Parent/Guardian Application and the Student Application. Both are required to be completed and submitted before May 1.
- Completed applications will be reviewed after May 1st and selected students will be
notified via E-mail within the next 1-2 weeks (please check your E-mail regularly). We accept on average 10-20 students each year depending on funding.
- Selected applicants will be provided with additional paperwork to complete such as
photo and liability release forms for field trips, scuba-related documents, and provided
with information to process payment at the University's Cashiers Office. Information
pertaining to scholarships and applying for a scholarship will be provided to selected
~ 5 minutes to complete
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.
~ 1-2 weeks to complete
This last 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 would be an excellent candidate for the
< 10 minutes to complete
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!
Contact Us!Our team is happy to help you.
Office Phone: (340) 693-1672
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Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service
Center for Marine and Environmental Studies
University of the Virgin Islands