Elementary Students Shine at CDFW's Nature Bowl 2023
More than 40 student teams and their coaches from across the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) North Central Region converged this spring to compete in Nature Bowl 2023.
Open to students in grades three through six, the annual team science competition gives kids the opportunity to flex their nature knowledge through fun and educational activities, including the “Nature Relay,” “Nature Investigations,” “Team Problem Solving,” “Speedy Ringers,” and “Enviromercials.”
It was the first time since 2019 that the Nature Bowl held in-person events after being a remote, family challenge the past three years during the pandemic.
“It was just wonderful to see all those students out there engaging in deep learning. As coaches, we loved watching them problem-solve and work together toward a common goal,” said coach Carmel Portillo, Superintendent-Principal at Belleview Elementary School District in Sonora. “The kids showed up pretty nervous so we especially loved seeing how confident they became and successful they felt throughout the day’s events. It’s a testament to the well-designed learning activities and challenges. Nature Bowl is always a highlight of my year!”
Four semi-final events took place at Nature Bowl partner venues outdoors. These included the New Melones Visitor Center in Tuolumne County, the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County, the American River Conservancy educational center in El Dorado County and the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Sacramento County.
The 12 highest-scoring teams advanced to the finals event May 6 at Camp Pollock on the Lower American River Parkway, where Sacramento’s Phoebe Hearst Elementary took the third-fourth grade team title and Davis’ St. James elementary school took the fifth-sixth grade team title. The grand prize for these two winning teams is a trip to accompany CDFW’s American River Hatchery staff on a trout plant to the Sierra Nevada.
“These kids are amazing,” said Genelle Treaster, CDFW’s Nature Bowl coordinator. “Their knowledge of science and the natural world inspires those of us working in natural resource conservation. The hardest part for us as adults is not giving all the teams first-place awards.”
Nature Bowl, now in its 37th year, inspires students as well with some going on to major in science-related fields in college.
“My daughter, who is 20, participated in Nature Bowl every year from third through sixth grade. Today, she is in her second semester at Cal Poly Humboldt as a botany major,” said Sacramento parent Kristen Stauss. “I know Nature Bowl helped a lot in her interest in science and her direction in college. Thank you so much.”
Nature Bowl partner organizations include the Yolo Basin Foundation, Tuolumne Office of Education, American River Conservancy, Sacramento Valley Conservancy, Sutter-Yuba Resource Conservation District, Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and Placer Nature Center.
For more information on Nature Bowl, contact Genelle Treaster or visit the Nature Bowl pages on the CDFW website.
Genelle Treaster, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 542-3869
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858