Billy Barnes
Professor Billy Barnes

By Cheryl Scott, BC Foundation Executive Director

Cheryl Scott BC Foundation Executive Director
Cheryl Scott BC Foundation Executive Director

The memory of Billy Barnes, beloved Professor of Animal Science and former Ag Department Chair at Bakersfield College, will live on among the BC campus community and beyond.  The Kern Community College District Board of Trustees has voted to designate the name “Billy Barnes Animal Science Institute” to represent BC’s animal science program, in recognition of a $2 million gift commitment from friends and family of the local ag leader.  

Billy Barnes

The naming will be accompanied by signage at the entrance to the Animal Science Labs in the new agriculture building, set to be complete in the fall of 2024.

Billy was a BC alum who ultimately became a critical part of Bakersfield College’s Agriculture Department.  He began his tenure with BC in 2007, when he came to work with his friend and “forever mentor,” Bill Kelly.  Professor Kelly had previously been Billy’s teacher at South High School.  Billy had been interested in Future Farmers of America, and Bill Kelly teamed up with his colleague Jim Slater to buy Billy his first show pig in 1979.  

That experience led to Billy’s life-long passion and career.

After graduating from South High Class in 1983, he continued his education at Bakersfield College while working for Getty Oil. Billy then went on to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and later graduated from Fresno State University where he majored in Animal Science. 

Billy became a pig farmer, raising show pigs and being named “Pork All-American” by the National Pork Producers Council.  He came to be internationally known as a top swine judge.  When he joined the BC agriculture team, Billy brought a tremendous amount of hands-on experience in both farming and livestock (not to mention the prestige of having a high-ranking swine judge on the faculty!).  

Billy was an inspiration at BC until his passing in March of 2021.  Because of him, the Animal Sciences program grew to become the largest discipline within the Department of Agriculture. As department chair and as the animal science faculty lead, Billy guided the expansion of dual enrollment to the surrounding high schools, encouraging students to continue their animal science education at BC. He also drove a massive outreach campaign to the community through his participation at Kern County Fair and other livestock shows, as a producer and/or judge. 

Billy Barnes was a friend to his industry, and he was a friend to BC and its students.  As Bill Kelly has said, “Billy really cared about his students, and he worked hard to find them jobs and placements.”

The Bakersfield College Animal Science program will forever benefit from Professor Billy Barnes’ commitment to making the department a state and national leader. Thanks to this generous $2 million gift, the program will continue to grow and will remain a leader in animal science education.

Keeping up with industry standards is a top priority for our entire Agriculture Department. If you would like to help with the needs of other disciplines within the department, please call the BC Foundation at (661) 395-4800.

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