Tree Foundation of Kern


To teach and advise college students pursuing a career with trees

Each word of the college professor rings with passion to inspire the students gathered in the classroom, from the farmer looking for ways to make his land more productive and the tentative young man unsure of his future plans to the mother of four returning to college in pursuit of a new career.

Seeing students succeed is the best reward, said Bill Kelly, a professor of agriculture at Bakersfield College.

College professors often play a role of mentor as they lead students through difficult course material, listen to students whose personal problems may be interfering with their studies and provide guidance as students grapple with career choices.

"This class is not about getting me a good job. I already have one," Kelly tells his students. "It is about getting you a good job that you will like as much as I like mine."

That job often entails research and preparation for classes that can consume a great deal of time away from the campus. Time between classes is often filled by reading and grading papers, student advisory sessions and faculty meetings.

Classes may start early or late and college professors may be called on to teach summer and evening courses, participate in faculty functions and oversee extracurricular or club activities.

The college campus, which provides a sense of community for students, also serves as a home away from home for many professors who find friends among colleagues who share similar interests and a passion for teaching.

College professors also enjoy a more equal relationship with students and often find their passion for a subject renewed by the enthusiasm and curiosity of those just starting out.

Commitment, the ability to communicate with passion and a love of learning and teaching are hallmarks of the college professor. Many who have found their way successfully in life can often attribute some of their success to a college professor who inspired them and encouraged them to achieve their highest potential.

A career as a college professor brings security, prestige and a chance to shape the lives of students who will soon embark on a new life and a new career. "I have loved every minute of my 30 years of teaching," Kelly said. "I recommend it highly."

Requires: Graduate degree

Salary: Starts at about $35,000 and advance to $50,000 or more, depending on experience and responsibility.