Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Raises $500,000 for Educational Programs | Homes and lifestyle

Posted May 13, 2022
| 3:25 p.m.

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Candles and flowers decorate the Sandy Bottom Lair table at the gala on Stearns Wharf. (Courtesy picture)

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s 22nd Annual Mission Creek Gala – The Seahorse Soiree – surpassed its fundraising goal raising a total of $500,000 during the April 30 event at the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf.

The Mission Creek Gala supports the museum’s nature and science education programs, which reach more than 10,000 students each year through school tours, classes, storytelling, camps and the lending library Nature Collection. The annual gala has raised more than $6 million for school programs since its inception in 2000.

The Museum Access Fund (MAF) is a scholarship program offered by the Museum and the Sea Center to visiting school groups in need of financial assistance. Schools with an enrollment rate of 50% or more in the federal free or reduced-price meals program can apply for scholarships through the MAF application.

The MAF was created to provide access to museum programs for low-income schools. Donations also allow the museum to offer discounted programs to schools not eligible for MAF. The funds raised by the gala allow the museum to offer these reduced/exempt prices.

The Seahorse evening attracted 172 attendees who enjoyed a reception in the first floor exhibit area that included interactions with small sharks and rays in Shark Cove and sea anemones in the Intertidal Wonders touch pools.

Next, attendees moved to the dock and into a transparent tent where marine-themed decor, including seahorse centerpieces, was designed by Joy Full Events, Inc. and Hogue & Co. There had six thematic tables that represented elements of the new Sea Center. exhibition Dive Into: Our Evolving Channel.

The Sea Grass Table, Pelagic Table, Kelp Forest Table, Rocky Intertidal, and Sandy Bottom Lair were each sponsored by a museum trustee and were designed to reflect the theme.

Between the dishes prepared by the catering duo, there was a live auction hosted by Charlie Thrift, manager of the museum’s teen programs. Thrift is an alumnus of the Quasars to Sea Stars teen program and provided the student testimonial at the 2020 gala.

After dinner Lucy London, volunteer and participant in the Quasars to Sea Stars teenage program, explained why the Sea Center and museum are so important.

Luke J. Swetland, president and CEO of the museum, appealed to the crowd and quickly raised $220,000. The Liquid Beauty raffle item was a malachite and diamond necklace from Sheryl Lowe Designs with a magnum of Sea Smoke Chardonnay.

The honorary gala committee included: Stacey Byers, Carolyn Chandler, Sheri Eckmann, Venesa Faciane, Elisabeth Fowler, Heather Hambleton, Ken Kelly, Annette Kowblansky, Bobbie Kinnear, Patty MacFarlane, Nancy Martz, Nanette Nevins, Susan Parker, Holly Pieretti and Pam Valesky.