Applications now accepted for 2024 Young Environmentalist Leadership Course

January 25, 2024

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) has opening up the application period for the Young Environmentalist Leadership Course (YELC) in 2024. YELC has been running for more than a decade, and it is an important programme that trains and prepares young Caymanians for careers in marine science/conservation or the dive tourism/watersports industry. YELC takes a small cohort of participants through an intensive, hands-on experience over several months and across several islands each year, providing them with knowledge, dive training, soft skills, and field experience to help launch them to the next step as they complete school.

The support of YELC programme sponsors, Foster’s, Rotary Central, CG Britcay, and Go Pro Diving, ensures CCMI provides full scholarships for students to participate in the course. Since the inception of the programme, more than 100 participants have received full course scholarships.

CG BritCay began sponsoring YELC in 2023, as the programme fits with the goals of their community involvement:

“CCMI’s Young Environmentalist Leadership programme aligns well with our goal to help raise awareness of environmental issues, and to support those organizations and programmes that encourage sustainability. CG BritCay is pleased to support this initiative and similar efforts across the communities we serve, especially when considering the tangible impact they have on our youth.”

Applications for the 2024 YELC programme will be accepted by CCMI through 22nd March 2024. This programme is open to Caymanian students or PR holders ages 16-20 who have an interest in pursuing a career in marine science or the dive tourism/watersports industry. Interested students must first apply to CCMI then participate in an interview process.

During the first part of the programme, YELC participants complete their PADI dive training in Grand Cayman with Go Pro Diving. All students then attend a one-week immersive, hands-on experience at the Little Cayman Research Centre from 5-11 August 2024. During that time, they work on field projects, take part in night dives, experience lionfish dissections, attend CV workshops and mock job interviews, assist with CCMI’s ongoing research, learn about local environmental and conservation issues, and interact with professionals from a variety of companies and organisations in related fields.

Recognizing there was a need in Cayman to support local students who were interested in careers in related fields, CCMI created YELC to build skilled and enthusiastic environmental ambassadors while bridging an important gap for those who may not have access to post-secondary education in the Cayman Islands. After more than a decade, CCMI sees YELC alumni flowing into professional roles in the dive tourism and environmental science fields in the Cayman Islands. As part of the commitment to these students, CCMI leads an active YELC alumni experience, maintaining contact with participants, providing opportunities to practice dive skills, and offering important support as students further their careers on island.

Additional information about YELC is on CCMI’s website (; the application is available at  Students interested in participating in the programme should complete and submit their application materials to CCMI’s education department at no later than end of day on 22nd March 2024. Interviews will take place the following week, and successful participants will be notified shortly thereafter.

YELC 2018 alumnus Uton Whittaker said,

“This programme has given me so many networking opportunities for my future in watersports in Cayman. Everyone should apply for this programme and take advantage of the awesome opportunity that CCMI is offering. It allows people like me who grow up on an island to experience the underwater world.”