​​​​​​Association of San Diego

Booths included: Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography | San Diego Zoo | Rueben H. Fleet Science Center | YMCA of San Diego County | San Diego Canyon Lands | NOAA - Sea Grant | Marine Ecology and Biology Student Association | SDSU | Recon Environmental


More than 850 lunches were provided for the party! Lunch was orchestrated by Chef Jess Ledesma from Koa Restaurant Group with preparation help from the wonderful culinary students from Chefs De Cuisine Education Foundation.Feeding America supported the endeavor by providing produce for all of the lunches served. A special thanks to all of the hands that helped to feed a community with delicious and healthy meals!

Success Stories

Naturally Healthy Holiday Fundraiser Dinner & Gala

More than forty of the students and young adults in our Ocean Leaders program went above and beyond at the Construction Party. They made sure that guests were welcomed and information was shared about the opprotunities that will be available at the Living Lab. A huge THANK YOU to every Ocean Leader that helped to serve their community.

Education Foundation, Inc

As an elected official, I’m invited to many fundraising events and the most unpredictable part of the whole evening is the meal. I always request in advance a “vegan” dinner. It fits right in with the gluten-free, vegetarian, wheat-free, you name it, meals. The chefs simply plan one meal that fits all categories and it’s usually very good… if they remember to make it.

The VEI Gala/Fundraiser completely removed that problem by publishing their menu weeks ahead. Take a look at the offering here on the menu link.

I counted four trained chefs in the kitchen and noticed eight others helping with check-in, prep, serving and cleanup. The shopping had been done in advance so when they started working at 7:00AM for the evening dinner, they were ready. Every menu item featured it’s French name, reflecting the skill set of the Euro-trained Executive Chef. As the appetizers rolled out of the kitchen, I brought up the menu on my phone to review. Needless to say, the meal was exquisite. Two appetizers, a bisque, four courses including green rolls, cauliflower au gratin, marinated tempeh, and glazed millet loaf. Two desserts, which I squirreled away for the next day.

One friend stated… clearly… "This is the best food I’ve ever eaten!” I agreed with her.

Several guests anticipate similar, though less extravagant, meals at the upcoming Summer Retreat 2017, Camp Sylvester at Pinecrest Lake. I will be among them.

Meanwhile, my personal cooking has been more inspired since the gala. I learned to use the same ingredients as always (fresh, organic, local, farm-to-market) in a somewhat revitalized way. More fun choosing, cutting, cooking veggies. More variety of whole grains (millet, brown-red-black rice, oats.) More patience eating my meal. Talk about a win-win.

I look forward to the next VEI Gala/Fundraiser but can’t imagine how the menu can get any better. Kudos to all involved for making this event such a success.

The Construction Party was an opportunity for all of Ocean Discovery supporters to  celebrate the construction of the new Living Lab and everyone who made it possible. The new state of the art facility will open the next chapter at Ocean Discovery Institute and will be a wonderful addition to an already vibrant community. The Living Lab will allow our reach to grow from 6,000 students to 20,000 students!

More than 25 volunteers came together to help make this event possible. Students, family members, neighbors, Board members, and community members came together and rolled up their sleeves where ever help was needed. You all ROCK!


​Booths were set up surrounding the event to introduce some of our amazing partners to the community. These organizations are an integral part of helping to support the growth and learning of Ocean Discovery students. A HUGE thank you to each and every partner that came out to support!



Construction Party Success at the Ocean Discovery Institute
Review by by Chuck Lowery, Deputy Mayor of Oceanside, California


What an extraordinary event! We at Ocean Discovery Institute are beyond happy with the turn-out of the Construction Party. More than 700 community members joined us! Our deepest gratitude goes out to every single person and organization that had a hand in creating such a successful event.

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