AMPI communications team earns top honors

NEW ULM – Communicators for Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), a leading Midwest dairy cooperative, earned top awards from the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) at its annual institute in Nashville, Tenn., this month.

The award-winning team of graphic designer Nickie Sabo, communications director Sarah Schmidt and executive senior vice president Sheryl Meshke was recognized for individual talent and collective projects.

Sabo received the 2013 Michael Graznak Award, recognizing a communicator age 35 or under who exhibits promise as a young communicator. As the graphic designer for AMPI, Sabo brings the visual aspects of a story to life through creative layouts in AMPI’s publications and cooperative rebranding. She’s also co-manager of AMPI’s Young Cooperator program that helps members under the age of 40 gain leadership skills and co-op knowledge.

In addition to creativity and effective communication skills, the Graznak award honors cooperative leadership. As regional ambassador for CCA’s North Central Region, Sabo led and designed materials for an educational workshop in 2012. Most recently, she was appointed to CCA’s Board of Directors.

Meshke is the recipient of the 2013 H.E. Klinefelter Award, CCA’s highest honor for a career cooperative communicator. As executive senior vice president for AMPI, she is responsible for the cooperative’s strategic development, public affairs and human resources. She embraced leadership opportunities in CCA ranging from co-chair of a highly successful membership campaign to board member and CCA president. She was a recipient of the Michael Graznak Award.

In the CCA Communications Contest, which drew nearly 700 entries, the AMPI team received first-place awards for a campaign promoting the AMPI Young Cooperator Summer Tour; a portfolio of their department’s communication tools; the Dairymen’s Digest member magazine; the Moosletter, an employee newsletter; and the Owner’s Manual, a brochure promoting AMPI membership.

The three communicators work for AMPI, a dairy marketing cooperative with 3,000 member farms and 10 manufacturing plants located through the Midwest states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. The cooperative specializes in the production of cheese, butter and powdered dairy products.

Sabo, Schmidt and Meshke are members of the CCA, a national organization focused on the development of professional communicators with a vested interest in co-op principles.

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