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The Junior Ocean Explorers (JOE) Summer Program is a 1 week, hands-on marine science program for students in grades 3-6 interested in learning more about our environment. 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. Students can use the JOE program to enhance their understanding and appreciation of the ocean and eventually participate in the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program. Participants meet at the UVI Center for Marine & Environmental Studies. 


Howard Profile Jarvon profile

Howard Forbes Jr., MSc.
(Program Director)

Jarvon Stout (Program Coordinator)

Howard Forbes Jr. currently serves as the St. Thomas Coordinator for the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service (VIMAS).
"JOE to me is a great opportunity to engage VI youth during the summer months to not only have fun in the ocean, but to also learn to value them."
Jarvon Stout currently serves as the Community Engagement Specialist for the Virgin Islands Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR).
"I love that this program provides a unique STEM experience for youth at a pivotal point when they are most likely to disengage from science."



What age is my child eligible to participate? The JOE Summer Program operates by grade level. Students in grades 3-6 are eligible to apply. 
What does the program entail? Selected students learn the basics of swimming and snorkeling, marine animal identification, and build upon STEM skills.
What does the program structure look like? The Junior Ocean Explorers Summer Program will operate as a half-day program (due to the current COVID-19 pandemic); starting at 9:00 AM and ending each day at noon. Both 1-week sessions will accept 15 students each.  
What island is this program offered on? The Junior Ocean Explorers Summer Program currently operates on the island of St. Thomas. 
Are non-VI residents eligible to apply? Yes, non-VI residents are eligible to apply; however, first preference is given to VI residents. 
Is this an overnight program? No. The JOE Summer Program operates as a day program and thus housing is not provided. 
How much does this program cost? The JOE Summer Program charges a one-time program fee for selected applicants of $100 (this amount can vary by year and funding support received.
When can I register for this program? The registration application for the JOE Summer Program opens each year on the 1st of January and closes on May 1. 


Aquatics Skills 

Students focus on a variety of aquatics skills to build their confidence as a swimmer. Many of these skills are taught using fun games and activities that help to foster learning. These core aquatic skills serve as the foundation our team utilizes to then teach students about snorkeling and free diving.  


Animal Identification 

Learning how to identify commonly found animals in our waters helps to strengthen a student's appreciation and understanding of the ocean. Students receive a snorkel guidebook to ensure that learning continues post program completion. 



Check back in January of 2023 to register for the 2023 JOE Program.

STEP 1: Parents or legal guardians should complete the following online application. Again, please note, this program is not yet offered on St. Croix.

Online application

STEP 2: Child completes the following:

student application

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

  • Completed parent application (Done by parent or legal guardian)
  • Completed student application (Done by child)

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. 

Selected applicants will be required to pay the one-time program fee of $100 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.


To be eligible for a mentorship position in the Junior Ocean Explorers Summer Program, the applicant should have be at the high-school grade level or higher (college) and have an interest in educating youth in the marine sciences. Mentors are paid a monetary stipend for their assistance with the JOE Summer Program. 
Click on the application button below to register for mentorship position for the 2022 JOE Summer Program. 


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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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