Nebraska Press Women Communications Contest award recipients were recently announced at the organization’s spring convention in York.

Sweepstakes winners are, from left, Lori Potter – first; Mary Jane Skala – second; and Jessica Votipka, third.

Of the more than 120 entries, 39 earned first place awards and will go on to national competition, according to Mary Jane Skala, NPW contest director. Entrants from Omaha and Lincoln on the east to Scottsbluff and North Platte on the west were eligible to compete in the following categories: broadcast and print journalism, public relations, marketing, advertising, graphic design, digital media and photography. 

The top three award recipients earned first, second and third place in Sweepstakes competition. Sweepstakes winners are determined by a point system based on the number of awards earned and the strength of competition in each category.

Lori Potter of Kearney is the 2022 NPW Sweepstakes Award winner, with 21 awards, including eight first place, five second place, five third place and three h onorable mentions. This is the second consecutive year she has won the top Sweepstakes award. Although retired from the Kearney Hub, she continues to do freelance pieces and a personal column for the newspaper. She is also a regular contributor to the Flatwater Free Press.

Mary Jane Skala, also from Kearney, is first runner-up in the Sweepstakes competition. She won 18 awards: 12 first place, five second place and one honorable mention. She is a reporter and personal columnist at the Kearney Hub. She was also first runner-up in the NPW Sweepstakes competition last year.

Both Potter and Skala have also been Sweepstakes winners on the national level.

Jessica Votipka of Grand Island is the second runner-up in the Sweepstakes competition. A reporter at the Grand Island Independent, Votipka won 14 awards: three first place, six second place, two third place and three honorable mentions.

Winners are:

BARB BATIE of Lexington, Midwest Messenger


1. News story, print newspaper: “Anderson waives extradition, faces charges in Colorado”

8-B, Humorous column, “There’s another woman in our life” and “Judging class takes on a whole new look”


7A, Agriculture, “Goals for the ground”

7S. Style/fashion/interior design etc., “Fabric artists”

8A. General column, “Dogs and their delivery truck friends” and “Do as I say, not as I do”

8-D. Personal column, “Biden 30×30 plan cause for concern” and “Never forget the 20th anniversary of 9/11”


7P. Science/technology, “Get every last drop”


7-C. Business, “Fox Theater opening provides perfect ending to CDC

PHYLLIS BUELL of Lincoln – Syracuse Journal-Democrat


8-B, Humorous columns, “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid” and “Old dogs vs. young cats”

8D. Personal columns, “The events of Jan. 6” and “A Good Gift”


8A. General columns, “I’ve Been thinking” and “What a Week”

TERRI HAHN of Osceola – Grand Island Independent


8-C. Informational column, “Salute the kernel; Stone fruit season coming to an end”

9C. Headlines. GI Independent

19A. Editing, Publication, Newspaper, Grand Island Independent. July 11, 2021


18A, Editing, newspaper section, Agriculture & Business pages, GI Independent

25A. Page design, “New life for an old library,” GI Independent


8A, General column, “BLT season and I couldn’t be happier” and “These soupy taters from Sparks, not the South”

18A. Editing, newspaper section, “Occasions,” GI Independent

25A. Page design, newspaper, Holiday Color, GI Independent


5A. Feature, print newspaper, “A place for the arts: Merrick Arts Council brings variety of performances to Central City”

7E. Food, “The Age of Asparagus” GI Independent

8C. Informational column: “Fish Fry Fridays” and “Cooked ground beef cuts prep time

HEATHER JOHNSON – Mid-Plains Community College, North Platte 

FIRST PLACE: 21B. Sports photo, “Head Over Heels” 

21C. General photo, “A working man’s glow” 

54. News or feature release, single release, “Area women discover love of auto body through NPCC – defy gender stereotypes” 

55. News or feature release, multiple releases: NPCC alum finds strength, confidence through fitness journey; MCC alum pushes the limits of cake decorating; NPCC student commencement speaker to talk about overcoming adversity; MCC alum dedicates lifetime to protecting others; Franzen named MPCC Distinguished Alum 

SECOND PLACE: 21B. Sports photo, “Boot-scootin’ boogie” 

HONORABLE MENTION: 6B. Personality profile, 500+ words, “Rodeo team/friends reflect on time spent with Garrett Nokes” 21B. Sports photo, “Take down”

DELORES MEISTER of West Point – Norfolk Daily News


7Q. Social issues, “Immigrants from Laos Yang’s in Snyder, and their extended family.”


7-D. Education, “Couple to ‘Build Artistic Thinking.'”

IRENE NORTH of Scottsbluff – Freelance


37C, Personal blog, “An Anniversary of sorts”

16-A. Single poem, “Indelible moment”


22 – Photo essay, “I didn’t go looking for fish anyway”

BETTE PORE of Grand Island Grand Island Independent


4. Editorial/opinion, “Free speech vital for student journalists,” GI Independent

18A. Newspaper regularly edited by entrant – Grand Island Independent

25A. Page design, newspaper: Grand Island Independent


4. Editorial/opinion: “Legislature actions must be in public,” GI Independent

CARLA POST of Ayr Midwest Messenger


8-A. General column, “Carla’s Corner”


8-C. Informational column, “Producer Progress Report.”

LORI POTTER of Kearney – Kearney Hub / Flatwater Free Press


5A. Feature, print-based newspaper, “All about the beef” plus sidebar on Line Family cattle tradition extends six generations

7A. Agriculture, “Best beef ever”

7C. Business, “Snow had no idea he’d run a sawmill someday”

7G, Government/politics, “Sharing irrigation” plus sidebar on Broadband, death tax, input costs top ag leaders issues

7L, Personal essay, “Ancestors told their stories”

21C. General photo, “Crane season sunrise on Platte River”

22. Photo essay, “Sumner rodeo”

23. Photographer-writer, “Branding day more than just cattle work” and sidebar, “Why brand when high-tech available”


1A. News story, print-based newspaper, “Spilled milk,” plus sidebar on Wolf family’s dairy traditions span four generations

5-C. feature, online publication, “Long thought extinct, native corn re-emerges”

7P. Science/technology, “UV lights up but do they save cranes?” and sidebar, “Rowe observers record how cranes react to power lines”

8A. General column, “Crane friends correspond” and “My rich life as a journalist”


1-C. News story, online publication, “Reefer sadness”

6B. Personality profile, 500+ words, “Rural roots” and sidebar “Many possibilities open for Ibach”

7E. Food, “A savory-sweet tradition” and sidebar, “Food truck will roll out soon, hopefully”

7J. Hobby (crafts building designing construction), “Driving Millie, Beth”

21B. Sports photo, “Sumner rodeo, hung up on rope”


21A. News or feature photo, “Bull sale ringmen”

21A. News or feature photo, “Butterflies, Cather prairie”

21C. General photo, “Draft horses, six-horse hitch

ERIKA PRITCHARD of Kearney – Kearney Hub/University of Nebraska at Kearney


5-C. Feature, online publication: “Phadiziana Smith-Whiteside overcomes obstacles to be the first in family to attend college,”

7-P. Science and technology writing, “More than pretty plants: UNK students, faculty use greenhouse for research”

21A. News or feature photo, “Montessori preschool student Evelynn Wetton”


21B. Sports photo, “Bubblegum catcher”

21C. General photo, “Chancellor Kristensen hugs Fayth Jackson”

LUANN SCHINDLER of Clearwater – Summerland Advocate-Messenger


7-D, Education, “Home on the Range”

MARY JANE SKALA of Kearney – Kearney Hub

FIRST (12)

2. Continuing coverage or unfolding news, COVID-19 coverage, 2021

6-B. Personality Profile, 500+ words. “Nyquist cherishes farm, family country”

7-D, Education, “Sharing the light of love and kindness”

7-E. Food, “Bless this food”

7-H. Green/environmental, “Playing in the flowers”

7I. History, “Honoring a veteran 77 years later”

7-M. Physical health, “We have diabetes – hear us now!”

7-N. Religion, “Seeking answers to tough questions”

7-Q. Social issues, “Sacred drumbeat nurtures priest’s spirit”

7-S. Style, “The farm a dream come true”

7-T. Travel, “Happy after Hopi haircut”

8-D. Personal Opinion, “Memory of COVID losses” and “Fifty years behind them”


5-A. Feature, newspaper, “Experiencing the crucifixion” and “McKee slowly crawls out of the darkness”

7-C. Business, “Thalkens didn’t plan to be florists”

7-M. Physical health, “Isabelle can’t take her disease off”

7R. Sports, “Vanishing field of dreams

7J. Hobby, crafts, “Mighty with metal”


7-C. Business “Blessings from a loaf of bread”

SHERRY THOMPSON of Omaha – Consultant: Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue


38A “Fall Fundraising” online campaign

40A. “Saving grace,” Electronic newsletter

51. “Impact 2020” report


9C. “Saving Grace” fall newsletter, newsletter/online publication

JESSICA VOTIPKA of Grand Island – Grand Island Independent


3. In-depth reporting: “Teacher-student race disparity at Grand Island Public Schools”

7J. Hobby, crafts, construction, design, “Shelter from the storm”

7R. Sports, “GI Senior High girls wrestling”


2. Continuing coverage or unfolding news, “Proposed health education guidelines”

6-B. Personality profile, more than 500 words, “From ballfields to cornfields”

7D. Education, “Broken Bow bond issue proposed”

7E. Food, “Fried foods, friends at the state fair”

7H. Green/environmental, “CCC fungal vessel floats”

23. Photographer/writer, “Stitched together”


5A Feature, print newspaper, “World domination, waste elimination”

7-C. Business, “Car wash dream becomes reality”


7-B. Arts and entertainment, “Instrument inspired by nature”

7I. History, “Putting Abbot’s visage on a coin”

7P. Science/technology, “Interest in welding helping student enter workforce”