By Christina Barton
Dear Cathy Fuller,
I’ve been thinking about goodbyes a lot lately, as my senior year at Paul Smith’s College comes to a close. Goodbyes to a place that has become a home, friends who have become family, and a professor who has been a guiding light and a friend. Cathy Fuller is retiring (graduating with us as the Park Management majors have said) after many years of sharing her abundant knowledge and experience. Cathy has taught us so much – as well as so many other students – and we are honored to be her last. Over the last four years I have heard many of Cathy’s stories, ranging from Monmouth County Park to visitors leaving not so friendly messages in the lawn. However, one story of thanks from an old student of Cathy’s stood out to me. It made me ponder how people don’t say thank you enough, or show appreciation for those who have left such an impression on our lives. I wanted to show Cathy how much I appreciate her and all the knowledge she has passed down to me. What better way to do this then to listen to her advice and “write this down.” I have taken notes, I’ve written down what she said, and here it is.
Thank you, Cathy. Thank you for keeping us all awake in your 8 a.m. classes by telling us not to take selfies with bears. Thank you for sending us trampling through the woods come rain or shine, our time outside was our favorite part of class and made for the best memories. Building disastrous picnic tables that looked like shooting stands at the VIC. Laughing at us when we realized we choose a lean-to about a mile into the woods and would have to carry all the wood there. Thank you for the extra credit coloring sheets for when you knew about half of us needed every point we could get. Thank you for coming up with projects that had us outside, like canoeing to a plot of land to design our parks only to find that there was no way we were making it to the project site on time. Having us trace out the entire alphabet for our trail signs, even though we groaned and complained we weren’t five; this skill will come in handy when we have to make signs at the parks we manage. Thank you for all the advice that will likely get us through our careers, “Keep It Simple Stupid, and do as I say, not as I do.”
Cathy always kept it interesting, her stories were the best thing about the class. Like her tipping the canoe of some annoying student in her class. –Spencer Nolan
She had the best 8 a.m. class ever. You could walk in and there would be instant coffee and tea waiting for you. She has excellent stories, they were what kept the class interesting. –Katherine Nussbaumer
Your energy and easy banter with students made your classes. Whether it be telling a certain student to go away after he kept asking you the same question. With them saying something like “C’mon Cath. Cathy, how about you give me a B on all the assignments, we’ll call it good.” You know who you are. It was moments like these that still have me laughing. Your personality and the way you teach pushed more through my brain than any other class. You are truly an amazing teacher and person, and I am so blessed to have had you as a professor. As you go on to the next chapter in your life – whether it be GPS marking a trail in some obscure country or adventuring out west – I hope you remember all of us, your last Parks and Rec Class and remember to never take selfies with bears! Congratulations Cathy!