Giant sequoia
Photo: Shutterstock.com

By Dr. Renaldo Arroyo and Dr. Jalisca Thomason, Professors of Forestry and Natural Resources, BC 

Bakersfield College has two professors within the Forestry department, Dr. Renaldo Arroyo (left) and Dr. Jalisca Thomason (right)

The Forestry and Natural Resources program at Bakersfield College offers classes aimed at students who have a passion for the stewardship of the environment and believe in sustainably taking care of our natural resources. Our program’s goal is to provide students with the necessary skills (in the classroom and in the field) to succeed in any field within the wide domain of natural resource management. We currently offer an Associate of Science degree as well as a Certificate of Achievement, with classes in Soil Science, Forestry, Integrated Pest Management, and Leadership Training. More specialized classes include Wildland Fire Ecology, Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Rangeland Management, and Wildlife Management.

We are working closely with 4-year universities to make sure students have a clear path to transfer. We are currently working with Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, Humboldt State University, and the University of California at Berkeley on the pathways for natural resource-based degrees. We also have an advisory board that seeks input from our partner universities as well as representatives from CALFIRE, the United States Forest Service, University of California Cooperative Extension, Windwolves Preserve, the Panorama Vista Preserve, and other local entities.

In terms of our students, we recently received approval for a Bakersfield College student chapter of the Society of American Foresters. This club will engage in student activities, community service, and professional events aimed at providing students more insight into the world of forestry.

We have two professors within the department, Dr. Renaldo Arroyo and Dr. Jalisca Thomason. Dr. Arroyo is a Certified Forester (through the Society of American Foresters), Certified Arborist (through the International Society for Arboriculture), Certified Wildland Fire Manager, and Certified Wildland Fire Ecologist (both through the Association for Fire Ecology). He sits on the board of the Tree Foundation of Kern County, is the Education Chair of the California Society of American Foresters, is on the Governor’s Prescribed Fire Working Group and is on the Education Policy Review Committee for the Society of American Foresters. Dr. Thomason is currently engaged in the creation of a regenerative agriculture demonstration farm at BC’s Delano campus and sits on the Governor’s Forest Management Task Force. Dr. Thomason manages a cow-calf operation in the foothills and works with the USDA and NRCS on multiple grants regarding rangeland management and conservation. Additionally, Dr. Thomason is the Regional Facilitator for the California Agriculture Teacher Induction Program and works with an intercollegiate research group to support agriculture educators around the state.

The BC Forestry program is engaged in program revisions, including adding a new degree path and multiple certificate paths aimed at trying to provide education for the variety of jobs and fields that reside under the natural resources umbrella within Kern County. We are hopeful to have our program accredited by the Society of American Foresters in the future. We are currently forming a partnership with the Panorama Vista Preserve due to its location near the campus and its 900 acres of riparian forest habitat that serves as the perfect outdoor learning lab for our students. Our faculty believe that the best learning happens in the field applying knowledge, and we are excited to continue building community relationships to support our pedagogical philosophy. 

We look forward to providing students who will leave our program as budding environmental stewards ready to help our local Kern County, Central Valley, and Sierra Nevada communities.

For more information on the Forestry and Natural Resources program at Bakersfield College, contact Professor Renaldo Arroyo (Renaldo.Arroyo@BakersfieldCollege.edu) or Dr. Jalisca Thomason (Jalisca.Thomason@BakersfieldCollege.edu).