Each summer the Youth Ocean Explorers (YOE) Program educates middle school and high school youth about the marine ecosystems that surround the territory. Coral reefs and vital marine habitats come to life when students explore the marine environment and hear from leading experts working in eco fields.
Thanks to an $18,500 donation from Tropical Shipping and Saltchuk, its parent company, more Virgin Islands youth will be able to learn about the marine environment and marine careers in the industry.
“The additional funds provided to us from Tropical Shipping will allow us to facilitate more technical and interactive activities and field trips,” said Howard Forbes Jr., V.I. Marine Advisory Service (VIMAS) coordinator. “We will now be able to offer a wider range of curriculum, increase the diversity of the students we can accept and provide more linkages with STEM professionals within our community.”
The YOE program is an integral educational program offered by VIMAS. It offers students in grades 7 -12 an opportunity to continue their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education during the summer in a fun and engaging way. The program’s comprehensive curriculum is centered on mathematics, science, marine science, chemistry, geo-sciences, technology and professional development.
“Students learn about the importance our coral reefs and all of the invertebrate, vertebrate animals as well as plants that live among our reefs,” said Forbes. “Classroom activities are brought to life when students explore the many natural habitats available on St. Thomas, whether it be in the nearshore environment or in the open ocean.”
“We are especially hopeful that these initiatives will in fact ‘open doors’ of curiosity for these Youth Ocean Explorers and that they will learn to explore the ocean at their own pace and discover all it has to offer,” said Jennifer Nugent Hill, director of governmental and community affairs at Tropical Shipping.
“I think the program has helped me to better understand the areas of marine science and to learn how every person can help preserve it,” said Trevett Williams, 2017 YOE participant. “I hope that all kids can have the chance to experience this camp and learn about marine life especially where we live. It is important for us to learn how we impact our environment.”
For more information on YOE, visit http://vimas.uvi.edu.