“A Night In With Crystal Cove” raises nearly $430k virtually

A virtual crowd of nearly 200 from 12 states joined together for Crystal Cove Conservancy’s “A Night In With Crystal Cove” livestream event, raising a total of nearly $430,000 to support the Conservancy’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs at Crystal Cove State Park. Title sponsor The Resort at Pelican Hill partnered for the 11th year to provide gourmet drive-thru dinners-to-go for sponsors.

A Night In Bedolfe with bag

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Photos courtesy of Crystal Cove Conservancy

Beto Bedolfe with his opportunity drawing bag

“We had no idea what to expect from our first entry into this virtual space, and we are just thrilled that our event this year raised nearly as much for our programs as we’ve been able to raise in a normal year. Our donors just keep coming through for us, and we couldn’t be more grateful,” said Gavin Herbert, Crystal Cove Conservancy’s board chair.

A Night In Morgan and Cole

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(L-R) Operations Manager Laura Morgan with Paula Cole, wife of past chairman Jeff Cole

The event included a live auction, an opportunity drawing for a chance to win a three-night stay in Cottage #14, and a conversation with Carl Safina, award-winning author and ecologist. “We were thrilled to have Carl join us from his home in Long Island, N.Y. to talk about his work, his travels and our shared effort to inspire the next generation of scientists,” said Kate Wheeler, president and CEO.

The night began with a toast to Madeline Swinden, a longtime supporter of the Conservancy who passed away earlier this year. “Madeline’s passing left a hole in the hearts of those who loved her and the organizations she supported. She was a great friend of Crystal Cove and will always be a part of the Cove Magic,” said Wheeler.

A Night In students on boat 

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High school students participating in a Marine Protected Area cruise

Wheeler’s remarks focused on the transformation of Crystal Cove State Park into an ideal outdoor classroom that can inspire young people’s love for the natural world and in turn, an interest in science and conservation. The Conservancy’s outdoor STEM education programs – now adapted for distance learning – engage more than 10,000 students from all over Southern California each year in hands-on programs that immerse them in ongoing conservation projects in the Park. These experiences connect students from under-resourced schools and low-income communities to real-world environmental challenges along the coastline and in protected backcountry habitats, giving them a deep understanding of how they can help protect the environment.

The Conservancy has three main areas of focus: to educate the next generation of environmental scientists; protect fragile habitats and natural resources in the park including 3.2 miles of sandy beach and coastal bluffs, 2,400 backcountry acres and an offshore Marine Protected Area; and preserve the unique mid-century beach cottages as affordable overnight rentals for families. While these may seem like disparate functions, at Crystal Cove, they weave together to create a rich experience in the natural world for people from diverse backgrounds that supports the protection of this fragile piece of California coastline.

The event can be viewed at