I went back to Fullerton College the summer of 1971, after taking time off from college to have a family, which is how things were done in the 60s and 70s. I needed some units to matriculate to CSUF- which at that time had just become a University and not a State College.
It is strange how one instructor can really change your life and your outlook on humanity and your personal responsibility to the planet where you live. Now that may sound pompous, but it is truthful.
In a class of about one-hundred students, in walks a young man— he was probably in his late 20s or early 30s, dressed in shorts and biking gear and introduces himself. And that is how Mark Parratt came into my life.
It was summer, so most of my studying was done poolside while keeping an eye on my kids, who were great swimmers.
I was truly fascinated with the class Man and His Environment---it really changed my way of thinking about the environment, how I could personally make a change and how to live my life with respect for planet Earth.
Mark spoke on everything from how to handle waste products, how to purchase a car that was friendly to the environment, the tundra and how the forests maintain their ecological balance.
I still have that picture in my head about how the trees managed to survive after fires. I can’t pick up an acorn, tree seed pod without thinking that this is the beginning of another forest.
And, he spoke of the rain forest way before it made headlines in the print and electronic Media. As a re-entry student, I thought wow; this is the beginning of my educational journey.
When, I was trying to get Mark’s last name, to prepare this article, Bruce Cordell, PhD, Dean of Natural Sciences at Fullerton College, said “Few folks remain with memories back that far, sadly.” But, I am still here and remember Mark’s teachings as I incorporate them into my life to this day.
I pay attention to how and when to water my garden, using compost to maintain an ecological balance for my plants and planted trees to give back oxygen into the planet and my life—they are very tall now after 40 years.
And, I have had a vegetable garden and fruit trees, all these years, which makes me happy and has encouraged my grandson to always say, “what is there to pick today?’ when he comes to visit.
I researched what is the best use of electricity, using compact florescent bulbs, and continue to return bottles and cans. I don’t get newspapers delivered anymore, although I loved reading the ads, but view most everything on the Internet (which was not available in the 70s), how things have changed. I plan local neighborhood travel using my car as efficiently as I can. Although, actually in the 60s and 70s a Sunday afternoon drive was part of Americana.
I don’t remember what kind of grade I got in the class, but remember that the summer of ‘71 changed my life and that of my family and friends. I loved talking about how rich our environment was and how individually we could protect it for our future.
I think over the last 40 years, we have done a pretty good job of preserving the environment, although others say not.
From my point of view, Man and His Environment was a class that impacted my life and continues to influence me, thanks to the engaging, energetic, informative instructor Mark Parratt. I’m glad I took his class the summer of ’71.
-Mark Parratt is a retired professor emeritus of environmental biology at Fullerton College. His recently published book, "Fate is a Mountain" recounts the adventures of him and his ranger family in Glacier Park during the 1950s and '60s. The following is a link to a recently published article by Parratt for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana: http://bit.ly/dt6qJF