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CoBank's Schoniger named top co-op communicator.

For her "drive, wisdom and relentless pursuit of excellence," Janet H. Schoniger, vice president of corporate communications for CoBank in Denver, Colo., has been named the 2005 winner of the H.E. Klinefelter Award, the highest honor bestowed on a cooperative communicator. Terri Faulkner, communications coordinator for Dixie Electric Cooperative, received the Michael Graznak Award, which recognizes the outstanding young co-op communicator (under 36) of the year. The awards were presented at the annual institute of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) in Denver, Colo., in June.

Schoniger is the 47th recipient of the Klinefelter award, which recognizes contributions in furthering the cooperative system and for raising the standards of cooperative communications. She was recognized for the key role she plays in ensuring CoBank's communications advance the bank's mission and vision.

Schoniger focuses on communication efforts that support CoBank's strategic plan, and even coined the bank's tagline, Rural America's Cooperative Bank. She is active in CCA, where she is past committee chair of the CEO Communicator of the Year award, and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

Faulkner is responsible for all aspects of her 18,000-member cooperative's communications, including publications, media relations and Web sites. She also handles cooperative advertising and is responsible for all school programs, community and public relations and special projects.

Faulkner was saluted for "demonstrating the seven cooperative principles in her work ethic and attitude on a daily basis, and for bringing creativity and a high level of professionalism into all the communications efforts."

CCA's annual cooperative communications competition attracted nearly 800 entries in four classes: writing, publications, photography and programs & special projects (the latter of which includes everything from advertising to web sites). The grand award winners in each class were:

* Writer of the Year--(tie) Allison Morgan and Mark E. Johnson, both of Tennessee Farmers Cooperative;

* Photographer of the Year--Robin Conover of the Tennessee Association of Electric Cooperatives;

* Publication of the Year--Bonnie Jones of Jackson Electric Membership Corporation for its 2004 annual report.

* Special Projects, Best of Class--Joseph W. Richardson, Southwestern Electric Cooperative, for a "smallshop portfolio" of communications work.

USDA'S Rural Cooperatives magazine won the first place feature article award from a field of nearly 50 entries for "Flying the Coop," by Catherine Merlo, which addresses strategies for retaining co-op members. It also won third place for best overall member magazine or newspaper, while Stephen Thompson, the magazine's assistant editor, won the third place award for digitally manipulated photos for an illustration/photo showing a farm inside a bank vault. For the complete list of award winners, visit:

CCA is a national organization of more than 350 professional communicators who work for cooperative businesses and organizations throughout the United States and a number of other nations. For more information, visit the Web site above or call Executive Director Susie Bullock in Lubbock, Texas, at (806) 795-2783.
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Publication:Rural Cooperatives
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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