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UVI To Launch Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program On St. Croix In July

FREDERIKSTED — Students from St. Croix will have an opportunity to participate in the popular Youth Ocean Explorers (YOE) program this summer … for the first time.

Based at the University of the Virgin Islands, YOE is a marine science-based summer enrichment opportunity that aims to increase students’ interest and engagement in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the ocean sciences. The program has been conducted on the UVI St. Thomas Campus for three years.

With funding from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, the program will start on St. Croix from July 8 to 12 and July 22 to 26.

During two fun interactive and hands-on one-week sessions, students from grades seven to twelve who are registered for the St. Croix program can expect to learn about the various inhabitants of the ocean, the importance of coral reefs, threats to the island’s marine ecosystems, and actions that can be taken to help reduce those environmental threats.

“Some activities involve geocaching, where the students do a scavenger hunt kind of activity, and it allows them to hunt for the information. “Instead of us lecturing the kids, it’s more fun, it’s more engaging, it’s more hands-on. I think that, by far, is what sets our program apart,” said Howard Forbes Jr., who serves as the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service coordinator for St. Thomas and St. John.

YOE’s unique format allows students to learn in non-traditional settings such as the outdoors and marine environment, and to use problem-solving and critical thinking skills to learn about selected topics.

“This program helped me by teaching me about the inhabitants of the ocean, various habitats in the ocean, and how temperature changes in the water can affect corals,” Destin Ogarro said.

The program’s emphasis on the diverse, fragile ocean environment has left a strong impression with former students.

“I learned more about the marine environment and how we need to help it and stop polluting the ocean. And I can spread the word to my family and friends to use less plastic,” said Keziah Bellew.

Students from the St. Thomas program also have benefited from being exposed to new ideas and understanding of scientists and what they do.

“I now see myself more as a scientist. I actually plan on going to college and studying marine biology to make the world a better place,” said Maura-Monee Richardson.

The Youth Ocean Explorers program in St. Thomas is part of Supporting Emerging Aquatic Scientists (or SEAS) Your Tomorrow, which fosters curiosity, instills stewardship, and forges and strengthens educational pathways for Virgin Islands youth to explore and secure careers in marine science.

Students interested in participating in the St. Croix program should have some prior experience with swimming.

Additional information and registration details are available at: http://vimas.uvi.edu or see this direct Link: https://www.uvi.edu/community/virgin-islands-marine-advisory-service/st-thomas/vimas_youth_ocean_stx.aspx

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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