In the tradition of finding innovative ways to explore their senior projects, Cal Poly students Natalie Do and Rebecca Leong are no exception. The two communication studies seniors will put on the event “Find Oz and Lula” at the Avila Beach Sea Life Center Saturday afternoon.

Attendees of the Avila Beach Sea Life Center's "Find Oz and Lula" event will venture around the area to find two new clownfish at the exhibit. Courtesy photo.

The family-based event is a scavenger hunt which takes kids around the small Avila Beach community to find Oz and Lula, the two new clownfish the center is welcoming as a new exhibit. Attendees will be given a map leading them to various locations — such as Avila Grocery, the Marine Mammal Center and Hula Hut — to find clues revealing the location of the new critters.

Leong said she got connected to the Sea Life Center last year through a friend. She then contacted the executive director of the center, Priscilla Kiessig, to pitch some ideas about a fundraiser.

“I contacted Priscilla and she said they don’t really do anything like what we wanted to do, and they only really do one fundraiser a year,” Leong said. “So we met with her (at) the end of fall quarter and brainstormed ideas for what we could do. She said that they were bringing in a new exhibit, so maybe we could do something around it.”

Do said the idea to promote a clownfish exhibit at a small sea life center came about during a brainstorming session.

“We were sitting in the car, thinking of ideas and then it hit me — Finding Nemo,” Do said. “So that’s where we came up with the name. They’re going to name the fish Oz and Lula.”

One of the main goals of the event aside from the hunt, is raising awareness for the existence of the Sea Life Center, which is located next to Pirate Park on San Juan Street. However, another main goal got in the way of this one before they could embark on creating awareness: raising funds for the center.

“The Sea Life Center isn’t that well-known, so people don’t want to invest their money in something that they don’t know about,” Do said. “It took a lot of convincing.”

Also, the center is a non-profit organization, so the women had to start from scratch with a budget of $0. Being the first event of its kind for the Sea Life Center, the newness of it left donators skeptical at first.

“Having this new event was a struggle because people are hesitant because they don’t know what it’s about, so that was difficult,” Leong said. “Because it’s a new event, people are reluctant to donate.”

However, the women managed to get five solid sponsors — the participating businesses in the scavenger hunt — as well as a few monetary donations.

“It was a struggle, but we managed and we’re actually staying under budget and donating, as of now, $500 to Sea Life Center,” Leong said. “That’s not even including the ticket sales.”

Despite their financial road bump, the women said they hope the event will bring outsiders into the small Avila community, and more importantly, raise sea life awareness.

“By having this, it’s going to draw people there and see how the animals need care, so hopefully that will draw in membership,” Do said.

The Sea Life Center is also looking to promote more family-oriented events in the future. Volunteer and Cuesta College student Sierra Stockton said she hopes this event will lead to more awareness about the possibilities within the center.

“It’s something that really needs to be shared,” Stockton said. “It’s a little jewel in Avila that a lot of families — once they know about it — I think (will) access it and use it.”

Volunteer Shannon Patterson said she’s hoping for a big turnout for the event.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for the kids,” Patterson said. “I know if I was a kid, I’d totally be all over that.”

As far as promotion goes, the girls have covered all aspects. But if they were going to do it again, Leong said to start as early as possible.

“I think it’s been hard doing it in one quarter — it’s just a lot to do in 3 months,” she said.

Do said this experience — both incorporating a senior project as well as personal satisfaction — has helped shape the path she hopes to follow in her career after graduation.

“Doing this event and planning it strengthened only my liking for this,” Do said. “Just learning a lot about the event planning process has excited me about a career.”

The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets will beg sold at the door for $5; members and children under 3 are free.

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1 Comment

  1. Sounds like a lot of fun for the children and a good benefit for the Avila Sea Community. Good work.

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