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Community Engagement

Youth Ocean Explorers Youth Ocean Explorers St. Croix

  • YOE students engage in a variety of field experiences.

    YOE students engage in a variety of field experiences.

  • YOE students learn the importance of making observations.

    YOE students learn the importance of making observations.

  • YOE students gain an appreciation for both land and sea.

    YOE students gain an appreciation for both land and sea.

  • YOE students exploring our unique marine habitats.

    YOE students exploring our unique marine habitats.

  • YOE students engage in a variety of field experiences.
  • YOE students learn the importance of making observations.
  • YOE students gain an appreciation for both land and sea.
  • YOE students exploring our unique marine habitats.

YOE Logo

-PROGRAM DESCRIPTION-                            

The Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program is a 4-week, hands-on marine science program for middle to high school-aged students interested in studying coastal, marine & environmental science, natural resource management, and conservation. YOE now features more geoscience-based activities that are all developed around the use of short presentations and field activities utilizing scientific tools to supplement those presentations. Participants report to the St. Croix East Marine Park as well as the Coastal Studies Outpost in Salt River but can expect to travel with staff to other on-island locations for field work and activities. YOE is recognized as one of the entryways for USVI students to engage with the S.E.A.S. (Supporting Emerging Aquatic Scientists) Islands Alliance Program, Participants in the YOE program can continue along this pathway to engage in:

SEAS Programs  

Bridge to the Phd picture  Zola compressed

While at its core, the YOE Summer Program is a 4-week program, our team strives to provide opportunities for engagement throughout the year. Potential parents of applicants to the YOE Summer Program should see this program as an investment into their child's professional development; providing a pathway from grade school - post secondary education (advanced degree, i.e. Masters or PhD level) to train them into becoming the next generation of ocean/geo scientists. Some examples of post program engagement activities include participating in the National Park Service's Sea Turtle Monitoring Program and internships that provide students with opportunities to utilize their scuba training.  

NPS sea turtle  YOE internships

Program Print Materials

Click any of the buttons below to obtain more information about the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program.YOE Brochure   


Howard Profile Jarvon profile

The Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program is led by the dynamic duo of Howard Forbes Jr. (left: Program Director) and Jarvon Stout (right: Program Coordinator). Forbes holds both a B.S. in Biology and M.Sc. in Marine and Environmental Sciences from UVI; Stout holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from UVI. Together, they have utilized their training and expertise in the field of science to develop the YOE Summer Program, designing the 4-week curriculum to be as engaging as possible. Outside of the YOE Summer Program, Forbes serves as the St. Thomas Coordinator for the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service (VIMAS) and Stout serves as the Community Engagement Specialist for the Virgin Islands Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR)

YOE Staff collage

In addition to Program Team members Forbes and Stout, the YOE St. Croix Summer Program is coordinated by an enthusiastic staff that includes partners from a variety of both governmental and federal agencies. Some of these agencies include The National Park Service (left: Zandy Hillis Star - Chief Resource Management), The Department of Planning and Natural Resources Coastal Zone Management Division (middle: Caroline Pott), and the Virgin Islands Department of Education (right: Anne Marie Gibbs and Jesus Espinosa - Science teachers at the St. Croix Educational Complex and Central High School respectively). Using this multi-agency approach exponentially increases the breadth of knowledge and expertise that can be shared with the students to make their experience in the YOE Summer Program, one that is memorable and educational. 

-ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA-                                                                    

  • The Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program is open to students in Grades 7-12 with an interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics). Students who recently graduated from the 6th grade are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants are eligible to participate in the program as a student for a maximum number of 3 years (total). If an applicant wishes to continue with the program beyond these 3 years, they are encouraged to apply as a mentor (see below).
  • Parents and/or guardians may register multiple children within their household; however, we ask that students who genuinely have an interest in marine science or STEM apply as spaces are limited each year. 
  • Interested applicants should be comfortable in the water which includes, swimming, floating, and submerging underwater. Students that are not able to perform these skills are encouraged to take swimming lessons prior to the program.
  • Applicants that do not reside in the Virgin Islands permanently are eligible to apply; however, first preference is given to local applicants. This is not an overnight program and thus, housing is not provided. 
  • Selected applicants are required to complete the entire 4-week program, barring any emergencies that may arise. Please plan your summer accordingly so as to avoid any scheduling conflicts with the YOE Summer Program. Students that do not complete the program (after being selected) will be required to pay back any scholarship assistance received and are also ineligible from participating in post-program opportunities such as scuba training, internships, etc.



The 2021 Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program is currently undergoing specific modifications that are being made to the operating structure to ensure the safety of all participants involved. These modifications will affect the 2021 YOE program and possibly the 2022 program depending on the status of COVID-19. Below, are some of the most pertinent modifications:

  • Instead of accepting our usual 25 students, we will only accept 10 students. 
  • Only students who are currently residing in the U.S. Virgin Islands will be eligible for participation. 
  • Classroom sessions will be facilitated through Zoom classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 
  • Outdoor activities will be coordinated on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  
  • Meals will only be provided on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will be optional. 


The registration period for the 2021 Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program is now closed. Please check back in early 2022 when the registration reopens for the 2022 program. 



The St. Croix Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program was made possible through funding received from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
Our program operates each year via small grants from private foundations and federal agencies as well as donations (monetary or in kind services) from the Virgin Islands community. If you are interested in providing a donation or to sponsor a student to attend, contact us using any of the methods listed below. The University of the Virgin Islands is a 501c3 institution so all donations are tax deductible. 
You can donate to the program by clicking the "Donate" button below.

Donate to YOE

-CONTACT US-   new

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

St. Thomas
#2 John Brewers Bay
St. Thomas, USVI 00802

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Registration information

How to Apply


yoe registration

STEP 1: Complete the online application for the program you are interested in.

yoe stt    yoe stx

STEP 2: Child completes the following documents:

YOE student application   

STEP 3: Review checklist; your application is only complete until all of the following have been received:

  • Completed online application (Done by parent or legal guardian)
  • Completed student application (Done by child)
  • Completed video response (Last question found in the student application; all videos should be uploaded to this DROPBOX folder as the file will more than likely be too large to send through E-mail. Please be sure to rename the video file as follows: Student first name_Student last name_YOE2021; e.g. Howard_ForbesJr._YOE2021).

STEP 4: Check the E-mail address that you provided with your application regularly as all initial correspondence will be done through E-mail regarding your application status and program updates. 

STEP 5 (Optional): Apply for a scholarship. 

Selected applicants will be required to pay the one-time program fee of $400 no later than 1-week prior to the start date of the program. Cash, check, and credit card payments are accepted; contact for more details. Scholarships are provided each year for local students (returning students are eligible for partial scholarships whereas new students are eligible for full scholarships). Students that receive scholarships will be required to participate in at least three VIMAS or VI-EPSCoR outreach/community events within one year upon receipt of the scholarship. Applicants interested in receiving a scholarship should apply by clicking the "Scholarship Application" button below.

Scholarship application



To be eligible for a mentorship position in the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program, the applicant should have participated in the program previously and be at the high school level (grades 9-12). Selected mentors will be required to complete either the Red Cross Life guard training or Emergency First Responder training (costs covered by the YOE Summer Program) as well as attend a week-long training session that includes the Junior Ocean Explorers Summer Program prior to the facilitation of these programs. Mentors are paid a monetary stipend for their assistance with the YOE Summer Program. 

Mentor application