Nature Bowl

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Nature Bowl 2024

Gather up your teams of 3rd-4th grade students and/or 5th-6th grade students and prepare to have a fun and educational time learning all about our local and regional ecology and conservation.

  • Sign up to compete in a Semi-Final event at one of the Nature Bowl Partner sites across the North Central Region using the 2024 Coach Registration Form(opens in new tab) The schedule for Semi-Finals and Finals is below.
  • Attend the virtual Coaches' Workshop(opens in new tab) on January 24 from 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. which will answer any and all questions you may have about Nature Bowl.
  • Download the 2024 Coaches' Packet(opens in new tab) to delve deeper into the Nature Bowl Glossary and each of the five activities: Nature Investigations, Nature Relay, Team Problem Solving, Speedy Ringers and Enviro-mercial.
  • New this year for coaches! Join the virtual California Natural History(opens in new tab) class for coaches on February 7, from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. where we will dive into how naturally extraordinary California is.
  • If you miss the Coach Workshop or California Natural History class for coaches, email the Nature Bowl coordinator to receive the recordings.

For more information, contact the Nature Bowl Coordinator at

2024 Event Schedule

  • Coach Workshop (virtual): January 24, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Natural History Class for Coaches (virtual): February 7, 400 p.m. - 6 p.m.


  • March 20 Nimbus Fish Hatchery
  • April 3 Placer Nature Center** (please note date change from March 27)
  • April 10 Yolo Basin
  • April 17 Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
  • April 23 American River Conservancy
  • April 25  New Melones (Calaveras/Tuolumne)


  • May 4 -- Camp Pollock, Sacramento

Exploration, Critical Thinking, and Fun in Nature!

Nature Bowl is an annual, science-based educational program for 3rd through 6th graders. Through games, problems, puzzles, and exploration, students gain ecological knowledge and conservation literacy. Teamwork and creativity are encouraged as students rotate through stations in a friendly, educational competition.

Natural Bowl curriculum is based on the California Education and the Environment Initiative in conjunction with the Next Generation Science Standards. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife develops the curriculum and works with partners to hold Nature Bowl events.

Watch this 4-minute video for a glimpse of Nature Bowl in action (YouTube)(opens in new tab).

How Does Nature Bowl Work?

Each school or group may enter one team in the 3rd-4th grade division and one in the 5th-6th grade division. Teams are made up of a coach and three to 10 children. The coach chooses a semi-final event and registers their team(s). The coach and other parents or friends work with the team at least an hour a week until their event.

At the Nature Bowl semi-finals event, up to nine teams are brought together for a fantastic day in the outdoors. Teams will participate in the following challenges: Team Problems; Speedy Ringers; Nature Relay; Enviro-mercial; and Outdoor Investigations.

The emphasis is on learning and teamwork rather than winning, and at the end, each team is recognized for the skills and qualities they demonstrated in their tasks. The top-scoring team in each division moves on to the Finals event. Often wildcard teams also participate in the Finals.

The goal of Nature Bowl is to help children explore, value, and understand their local environments. All problems and challenges are based on the natural environments in this region, from the Sierra to the Delta--and everywhere in between.

How Do I Get Started?

If you’d like to be a nature bowl coach, the first step is registering your team using the Coach Registration Form(opens in new tab). Next, attend the virtual 60-minute Coaches Workshop(opens in new tab) on January 24. There, you will learn about the activities and the site where your experience will take place. The Nature Bowl coordinator will explain what to expect and give you a glossary and other materials to share with your students. Seasoned coaches will also have ideas and suggestions to help you succeed.

Next, you’ll need to put together your team and confirm with your school district that they can be released for this half-day or whole day educational event. You’ll want to teach your team the glossary words and if possible, visit a wild place or two. Teams will need to meet for a minimum of one hour per week to be successful.

Then, attend the virtual California Natural History class for Coaches(opens in new tab) on February 7. The class explores the biotic zones and biodiversity that makes California one of a kind, while focusing on our region’s specific ecology.

Coaches may want to purchase the book The Outdoor World of the Sacramento Region, available at local retailers or online. Another good place to start is the California Education and the Environment Initiative website (opens in new tab). Click on the “Curriculum” tab and scroll down to access curriculum, workbooks, flash cards, pictures, posters, and more. Additional resources (PDF) (opens in new tab) are also provided.

What Happens at the Semi-Final?

These events are hosted by our partner organizations, including Yolo Basin Foundation, American River Conservancy, Tuolumne County Office of Education, Bureau of Reclamation/New Melones, Sacramento Valley Conservancy; Placer Nature Center; Friends of Stone Lakes/Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and Nimbus Fish Hatchery.

Each host site sets a slightly different schedule, but you can expect to spend a whole day in nature at most sites. Currently all the events are held on school days, so check with your school district about their policy on releasing students for this educational activity.

Teams will arrive to find at five stations set up and a schedule for rotating through them. The stations--Nature Investigations, Nature Relay, Team Problem Solving, Speedy Ringers, and Enviro-mercial--are judged and scored by natural resource volunteers.

Teams bring their lunches, and some like to bring a pop-up for the weather or even t-shirts they’ve made to build team spirit.

What is the Finals Event?

The top scoring teams from each semi-final site advance to the Finals, to be held on Saturday, May 4, at Camp Pollock in Sacramento. At the Finals, many of the stations are similar, but the challenges may be harder or require more knowledge. Our goal is still to provide a positive, enriching day for the students. Judges for this event come from all our sites and also include many CDFW professionals.

Helpfu Links

Watch this 4-minute video for a glimpse of Nature Bowl in action (YouTube)(opens in new tab)

For More Information Contact:

Genelle Treaster, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
1701 Nimbus Rd., Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Call: (916) 542-3869 or Email

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