NEWPORT NEWS Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Living Museum successfully raised more than $200,000 during its first in-person Otter Ball gala since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money was raised during a live “paddle raise” auction and event on May 20. The funds will go towards conservation, education programs, and mission experiences.

VLM called the celebration a reunion and an introduction, that “encouraged, inspired and engaged community members to come together and become ambassadors for conservation, biodiversity, education, and nature.”

Members contributed to the cause by adopting a program, native animal, or educational experience of their choice. 

The Otter Ball, presented by Towne Bank, is a positive reminder of the community’s love and support for the Virginia Living Museum and its mission.

The gala began with music, food, and a toast from Towne Bank’s president and CEO Brian Skinner.

Stories of connectedness and conversation on National Endangered Species Day were shared by award-winning VLM veteran volunteers, Green Teens, and lifelong visitors who are now board members.

The ball’s top fundraising teams and individuals were W.M. Jordan Company, Abbitt Realty, Rebecca Francese, Karen Velkey, Jamie Firth, and Vicky Lippolis who is a museum volunteer. 

Entertainment was provided by the Williamsburg Youth Orchestra, Something Different Duo, Enchanted Otter Aerialist (KA Art Productions) Indian Creek Productions, and Stage Right Lighting.

The next Otter Ball Conservation Gala and Community Challenge is set to take place in May 2023.

To learn more about the Virginia Living Museum visit their website as well as their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.