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Geoffrey L. Buckley, director of studies (environmental studies) of the Honors Tutorial College, speaks to Environmental Studies students before a hike on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019.

OU professor implements love of outdoors in classroom

Every day, whether it’s running, biking, hiking or swimming, Geoffery Buckley makes sure he’s getting the exercise he needs to be the best professor, writer and person he can be.

A typical week for Buckley, director of studies (environmental studies), contains two 5-mile runs, three 1-mile swims, 1-and-a-quarter-mile walk to campus every day and either a bike ride or a hike at Strouds Run State Park on the weekend. With his various outdoor activities, Buckley has also found a balance among grading papers, teaching lectures and being a father to stay fit.

“You can’t make up excuses,” Buckley said. “If you can’t find 45 minutes to an hour just to get exercise every day, then you’re not giving it the priority I think it deserves. This is your health, so you can’t just put that on the back burner.”

Buckley was always a high-energy child and enjoyed being outdoors whenever he got the chance. Although neither his parents or sisters were very active, Buckley himself played soccer growing up, and the activeness of the sport has stuck with him ever since.

“I grew up playing soccer, and the competitive side doesn’t drive me anymore, but the fitness side of it does,” Buckley said. “When I have that level of fitness, there’s a ripple effect that has a positive impact on the other things I do.”

For the most part, Buckley runs, swims or bikes to spend time with himself and his thoughts, so he can clear his head in the downtime he’s able to fit into his busy schedule.

“That’s how I map out what I’m going to do that day, especially when I’m swimming because swimming is so darn boring going back and forth,” Buckley said. “If I’ve got some sort of problem I’m trying to work through, or I’m working on an article, it’s a good opportunity to be away from devices, emails and just sort of figure things out.”

There is no one better exercise over the others when it comes to Buckley’s routine because he enjoys the cross training aspect of different exercises and the rhythm of working different parts of his body.

“There were times where I used to go for a run every day, but the grind of a run can kind of discourage you,” Buckley said. “So by mixing it up, I think it’s easier to stick with an exercise regime.”

When it comes to hiking, Buckley has found a way to implement the outdoorsy activity in his classes. Over the years, he discovered that he was overwhelming his Honors Tutorial College (HTC) students with readings. Noticing how exhausted they all were, Buckley decided that he would hold three voluntary 4 to 5-mile hikes during the semester students could attend to get away from it all and take a little break called “Hikes with Dr. B.”

“I like to think the students enjoy themselves and have benefited from it,” Buckley said. “I think it’s just good for people’s mental health, but apart from that, it’s really much more about chatting with each student and getting to know them.”

Mitch Spring, a freshman studying environmental studies, has never been on one of the “Hikes with Dr. B,” but he’s looking forward to getting out in nature and conversing with Buckley and his fellow classmates.

“I am a huge fan of the hiking idea, and I think it is really important to actually keep in touch with nature and explore new places in addition to learning about it in class and through readings,” Spring said. “The irony is that this is a very stressful point in our lives, so it is good that Dr. Buckley is ‘forcing’ us to go out and help ourselves relax and find our connection to nature.”

Olivia Tenoglia, a freshman studying environmental studies, has also never been on one of Buckley’s hikes, but she has hiked on many of the paths in the surrounding areas and is excited to see the trails from an environmental standpoint.

“I am a very big fan of Dr. B implementing these hikes because I believe it allows students to see the field that we are going into very early on in our college careers and understand the complexity of the problems we are trying to tackle,” Tenoglia said. “I also think that it allows the student to become familiar with the region we are in and the specific problems and assets it has.”


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