Junior Ocean Explorers


Logo for the Junior Ocean Explorers Summer Program

The Junior Ocean Explorers (JOE) Summer Program is a continuous, 2 week, hands-on marine science program for students in grades 3-6 interested in learning more about our environment. Currently, it is only offered on St. Thomas; however, efforts are underway to establish an equivalent JOE Summer Program experience for students on St. Croix and St. John. JOE prioritizes teaching youth the basics and fundamentals of swimming and snorkeling. Engaging youth at this age is pivotal to increasing their interest in and curiosity within the marine sciences.


Registration for the 2025 JOE 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 JOE, 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.) - JOE Program Director 
    JOE Team Member Howard Forbes
  • Jarvon Stout - JOE Program Coordinator
    JOE Team Member Jarvon
  • Jendahye Antoine - JOE Program Coordinator 
    YOE Team Lead Jendahye
  • Amber Knight - Water Safety Instructor 
    YOE Team Lead Amber Knight
  • Zoe Banfield - Water Safety Instructor 
    YOE Team Lead Zoe
  • JOE 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 3-6 (ages 6-11).
  • Should have an interest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics).
  • Should have an interest in being in the outdoors (ocean, forests, nature, etc.).
  • Student MUST be able to attend the entire Session they registered for. For example: if you register for Session 1, you should plan to be in attendance for the entirety of Session 1 barring any emergencies. (Spaces are limited each year, so please plan your vacations accordingly if you wish to apply).
  • The Junior 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.  
  • JOE has 2 Sessions that applicants can register for; interested applicants can register for the Session they are interested in (this could also include attending both Sessions). 
  • At this time, the JOE Summer Program is only offered on St. Thomas.
  • Session 1 will take place from June 3 - June 14 and will cover the Learn to Swim basics / snorkeling with an emphasis on marine animal identification. 
  • Session 2 will take place from June 17 - 21 and will cover the Learn to Swim basics / snorkeling with an emphasis on ecology and coastal plants.
  • Students meet daily at UVI's Marine Science Center from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
  • Lunches and snacks will be provided. (Please be sure to indicate ALL known allergies of the applicant (if applicable) when applying.
  • Housing is not provided as this is NOT an overnight program.
  • You can access the schedule for Session 1 by clicking HERE
  • You can access the schedule for Session 2 by clicking HERE.
  • Students that have previously participated in our Youth Ocean Explorers (YOE) Summer Program are elligible to apply to be a JOE mentor.
  • JOE mentors assist the team with the facilitation of the program's activities. 
  • Mentors can receive Emergency First Responder (EFR) training prior to the start of the program. 
  • 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. 
  • Registration for JOE opens each year on JANUARY 1 and closes firmly on APRIL 1.
  • 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.
  • Completed applications will be reviewed after APRIL 1; applicants will be notified of the selection process via E-mail.   
  • Selected applicants are required to pay a one-time program registration fee of $200 which covers all program-related costs such as student supplies, field trip expenses, and lunches.
  • Session 1 costs $200 whereas Session 2 costs $100.
  • Payment can be made in person or over the phone with the cashiers at the Orville E. Kean (St. Thomas) UVI Campus (340-693-1437); forms of payment accepted include cash, check, or credit card. 
  • Scholarship recipients volunteer at a minimum of 1 community service event hosted by either VIMAS, VI-EPSCoR, DPNR, or other Environmental-focused agency (not in the USVI) 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.
  • To be eligible for a scholarship, the applicant must: 1) Have been born/ or currently reside in the U.S. Virgin Islands and 2) Attend a public school in the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
  • Due to funding shortfalls, there will not be any scholarships for the 2024 Junior Ocean Explorers Summer Programs. We do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. 
  • 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 JOE 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 Junior 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 (howard.forbes@uvi.edu) and Program Coordinator Jendahye Antoine (jendahye.antoine@uvi.edu). A follow up E-mail will be sent to update you on your application status. 
  • "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 JOE 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.
  • "Why is this program only offered on St. Thomas?" These programs require a substantial amount of funding and personnel support to operate sufficiently. Currently, our operating budget only allows for us to coordinate this program on St. Thomas, though we are actively working on ways to obtain additional sources of funding. To offer these programs at the price we do requires external funding support; otherwise the registration fee which is currently at $200 will instead reflect the actual programmatic costs (~$1,000/child) which is not feasible for most USVI families.   





Both the Parent and Student Applications are required to complete your Junior Ocean Explorers Summer Program application packet. Please plan accordingly so that you can complete your application before the registration deadline.
Dr. Marilyn Brandt speaking with students about coral restoration
This portion of the JOE 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. Estimated time to complete ~ 5 minutes.
JOE students getting their faces painted
This last component of the JOE application should be completed by the applicant. It contains 2 short essay questions that will provide our team with a better understanding of an applicant's interest in the program and STEM. Estimated time to complete ~ 1 - 2 hours.
JOE Mentors assisting students with data collection
If you are interested in being a mentor or swim instructor for JOE, complete this application to join our team. Previous mentors have included high school, undergraduate, and graduate level students. Mentors assist with day-to-day activities, provide guidance and support to student participants, and are paid for their time.



Phone  Email Social Media 
340-693-1672 howard.forbes@uvi.edu




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


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

St. Croix - Albert A Sheen Campus