Lake Forest's third-grade Nature Bowl team has some fun during the competition earlier this month. Climbing the tree are Evan Odell, Kyle Enriques and Anna Thurman, left to right, while the others stand in front, left to right: teacher Donna DeLaurentis, Matthew Medina, Savannah Hannaman, Ayden Quinones, Kara McCauley and advisor Marlaine Reilly. Courtesy photo

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Lake Forest sweeps Nature Bowl, heads to finals

By From page B2 | March 26, 2014

Lake Forest’s two Nature Bowl teams won first place in their respective age divisions March 18 and will head to the finals at Sac State in May. The third grade and fourth/fifth grade teams competed in Coloma against a dozen area schools, including neighbors Silva Valley, Lakeview and Pleasant Grove.

Sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nature Bowl is a program where student teams compete against others, placed in either third/fourth or fifth/sixth grade combinations (and only one team per division from any given school or organized club). Since Lake Forest is a K-5 school, it received a waiver to compete up with a fourth/fifth grade team and a straight third grade team, which made their dual victories all the more impressive.

Nature Bowl participants answer environment-related questions and complete various activities that are aligned with state science standards. They were asked questions like: Name an adaptation of a grassland animal and what is the major cause of air pollution in the Sacramento Valley?

At times students are individually graded and at others collectively, but the final team score is what’s revealed.

Three students per team were chosen to present an enviro-mercial, a 60-second commercial focusing on a local environmental problem and solution. For the 4/5 team, Lake Forest student Dylan Ek learned about the oak woodlands; Joshua Medina tackled energy efficiency; James Francisco undertook water conservation.

“I like taking part in Nature Bowl because it’s fun and challenging and I learn a lot,” James told Village Life. “The most challenging part is the vocabulary that we have to know.” His Nature Bowl 4/5 team also included Evan Tauriainen, Jessica Dean and Alex Dean.

It was the investigative portion of the event that bumped the Lake Forest teams up a few notches, according to James’ mother Maya Francisco. The teams all received a pencil and were asked to name each part of it, she recalled, including where each part comes from and whether it’s made of a renewable or non-renewable resource. Most teams explained wood coming from trees and the metal part of the eraser and the rubber eraser itself.

“But our kids took it a step further,” said Maya. “‘Pencils aren’t made of lead as many people think,’ the kids said to judges. ‘They’re made of graphite, which is extracted from ore.’ I heard a parent next to me say, ‘How do these kids know this stuff?’”

The third-grade Lake Forest team includes Kara McCauley, Anna Thurman, Evan Odell, Ayden Quinones, Matthew Medina, Savannah Hannaman and Kyle Enriques. For their team’s enviro-mercials, Matthew presented air pollution; Ayden shared his knowledge about invasive species in Lake Tahoe; Kyle debated cloth versus disposable diapers.

Lake Forest teachers Donna DeLaurentis and Lynn Howard coach the teams along with former parent and longtime Nature Bowl mentor Marlaine Reilly.

“Mrs. Reilly does a great job preparing the students,” said DeLaurentis.

Howard echoed that praise, added, “Mrs. Reilly spends countless hours on this.”

The two Lake Forest teams will represent the region at the finals at California State University, Sacramento, on May 17, where the 4/5 Lake Forest team clinched the entire championship last year. All of the current 4/5 participants were part of last year’s winning team.

Asked if he felt pressure this year for a repeat, James quickly responded, “Nah!”

“Nature Bowl is amazing,” said Maya. “They learn so much.”

For more information about Nature Bowl visit

Julie Samrick


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