Biology teacher explores the wilderness

  Growing up in a smaller town called Freeport, Illinois, before social media and television were prevalent, Kent Osborne, biology teacher at HR, said that building forts, bringing home snakes and turtles, and other outdoor adventures were the activities that filled the time. As Osborne grew into an adult, his adventures surpassed the area in his hometown and turned into adventures around certain parts of the United States and Canada. He had stories about being in the wilderness with just one other person for two weeks at a time, or even about camping with “disadvantaged” kids in an outdoor program.

  “I never ever thought about being a teacher when I was young… I ended up kind of an adrenaline junkie as a kid,” said Osborne. “We never had a lot of TV, and I was always outside.”

  One story that particularly stuck out is Osborne’s experience of nearly falling down a 200 ft. waterfall with a group od disadvantaged kids in a camp north of Montreal.

  “There was a river that was supposedly mapped out that we were going to run for the first time… we were paddling down the river and the water started moving really fast and it got narrow. I looked out over what was supposed to be a tree line and [the river] suddenly disappeared,” said Osborne.

  After initially realizing something strange about the lake, the group panicked and climbed up a rocky wall beside the river. After following the river to see what was downstream, Osborne said that, looking down, the group was able to see boats at the bottom of the waterfall that were already too late to save. As the group was observing the boats at the bottom of the waterfall, they quickly realized that their own canoe that they needed to get back wasn’t secured properly.

  Without time to think, Osborne instinctively took action by tying a rope around his waist and he jumped into the river. He swam for the canoe and luckily, he was able to grab it .The whole group of kids that he was with had to pull hard to help him and the boat get back to shore.

  “It was pretty exciting, I was pretty close,” Osborne said with a chuckle. He said that if he were to be in this scenario again, he wouldn’t be sure if he would be able to jump in and save the boat the way he did.

  “You act like you’re not scared for the kids’ sake,” Osborne said. “You gotta act like you know what you’re doing, like this is common occurrence and you’ve done it a million times.”

  But to students like Julia Reigrut, class of 2021, who’s in Osborne’s 7th period biology class, his experience was anything but common occurrence. “New objective: almost fall down a waterfall,” said Reigrut.

  Osborne said that nowadays, kids in highschool seem to be too busy on their phones, watching other people’s lives, and worrying about what other people think of them that they’re missing out on the fun experiences he had. Osborne said, “Get off your phones and go experience life. Life is not on your phone.”

Anna Smith, Guest Reporter

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Osborne (far right) on one of his camps with disadvantaged kids in Montreal. Photo courtesy of Kent Osborne 

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