Soren Knudsen, 7th grader Channahon Junior High School
Hanley is a tree frog and Hayward is an Albino Pac-man Frog from Argentina. It’s orange and yellow colors and shape really resemble the 1980’s arcade game icon.
Henrietta, Jabba and Hirohito, fire-bellied toads from Taiwan live together. There is also Herald the fire-bellied newt and Herbert the Green Anole Lizard from Louisiana.
And we can’t forget Hjalmarsson, the African Dwarf Frog. Yes, he is named after the Chicago Blackhawk player.
All these animals are living in one of five aquariums set up in one Channahon boy’s bedroom.
Soren Knudsen, a seventh grader at CJHS wants to become a herpetologist. That is someone who works with the branch of zoology that studies amphibians and reptiles.
If Knudsen is not researching amphibians and reptiles on the Internet or at the library, he is taking in valuable information from nature shows featured on television. His favorite show is the Discovery Channel’s “River Monsters.”
“He does thorough research on the animals,” said Soren’s mother Sally. “We are at the Feed Loft frequently buying for earth worms, meal worms and crickets for the frogs and lizards.”
Knudsen doesn’t want to travel the Amazon jungle or other exotic areas in search of amphibians and reptiles. But perhaps he will change his mind when he gets an offer from National Geographic one day.
In fact, he would love to start a Web site. He wants to breed and sell exotic amphibians and reptiles in an effort to protect them and prevent them from extinction.
“I eventually want to live in Southern Illinois and find cool stuff like the You-Tube herpetologists do,” Knudsen said.
Knudsen loves fish too. There is a fish tank filled with semi-aggressive tropical fish and an 11-inch cat fish in his home.
Soren and his Dad Jim enjoy fishing at Heidecke Lake in Morris. He eats the catfish he catches and his favorite fish dish is salmon patties with a side of Brussels sprouts and lobster cheese biscuits. Dessert: never enough of Resse’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream.
When he is not tending to his frogs and newts, Knudsen is outside with his friends playing flashlight tag, Ultimate Frisbee or Four Squares. He loves to read detailed encyclopedia-like books on sports, reptiles and amphibians.
He loves to play basketball and plans to tryout for the school team this fall. Knudsen hopes to be like his favorite basketball player, Anderson Varejao, a Brazilian, who plays power forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But right now he is focused on his running.
Currently he is practicing for his first meet Saturday with the CJHS Cross Country Team. He has been a member of the school team since fifth grade. Come spring, he plans to join the school track team.
“The quicker I run, the quicker I finish, the quicker I get water, the quicker I get hydrated the quicker I get re-energized,” said Knudsen. “I just think about me in the race and getting across the finish line.”
Knudsen said he started running because he was jealous and wanted to be a runner like his Dad and his older brother who is a member of the Minooka Community High School Cross Country Team.
All his hard work and concentration on running landed Knudsen first place in the Channahon Park District 1 mile Firefly Race on August 13 with a time of 5:51. This is the second year in a row that he has placed first in this race.
After the race, he immediately joined the adults and ran the Firefly 5K. Knudsen completed the race with a time of 20:05. He was 15th overall in the race and fifth for his age group.
“I don’t have any special secrets to running,” Knudsen said. “I just have it in me.”