Water is an integral part of Kern County's landscape. Merle Haggard memorialized the Kern River in song; decades later water remains the topic of discussion through continued efforts and new water leadership.
Shafter resident Jenny Holtermann is the new executive director of the Water Association of Kern County, a non-profit whose mission it is to inform and educate residents about local water issues. She was hired about two months ago to fill the vacancy left when Beth Pandol retired from her post as the association's chief executive of 10 years.
Originally organized to educate residents on the need for the California Aqueduct (State Water Project), the association has morphed over the years to include outreach and activities that inform a wide audience on water issues that span federal, state and local projects.
Holtermann says the association is still promoting its campaign "The Magic of Water," started under her predecessor. Evidence of the campaign was slated to go up earlier this month as a building wrap on a busy street in Oildale, a Bakersfield suburb.
Other campaigns the association is spearheading includes a cheeky suggestion to "don't be that guy." The campaign pictures people wasting water by hosing down driveways and sidewalks. The idea is to promote water conservation and reuse, something farmers and the oil industry in the region have done for decades.
Holtermann is savvy to the kinds of campaigns that attract attention. Through her social media efforts as "Almond Girl Jenny" and her participation with the Almond Board of California – her family farms almonds in Kern County – she has been a popular advocate for farming and water thrifty technology, promoting both through various social media channels.
For instance, she's working to inform homeowners and businesses of timed irrigation sets and time-of-day watering schedules for yards and landscaping – a method of water management already practiced by the farming community.
Holtermann is active in local and state farming organizations. She is the current second vice president of the Kern County Farm Bureau and is the District 5 representative on the California Farm Bureau Federation's board of directors, representing Kern and Kings counties.