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CDFW wins 3 Golds for communications

06/03/15 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Alexia Retallack (second from left) has received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in public affairs from the State Information Officers Council (SIOC). Additionally, CDFW staff from the Office of Communications, Education and Outreach took top honors in three categories of the 2014 SIOC statewide competition for excellence in state government communications.
2015- State Information Officers Council (SIOC) award winners included (l-r) Troy Swauger, Alex Retallack, Dana Michaels and Kirsten Macintyre. Photo courtesy of CA DFW
2015 -- State Information Officers Council (SIOC) award winners included (l-r) Troy Swauger, Alex Retallack, Dana Michaels and Kirsten Macintyre. Photos courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The SIOC awards ceremony held recently recognized the frontline of professionals in media relations within state government and showcased their importance in effectively delivering agency or department messages to the public. Honors were awarded in nine different categories ranging from writing to graphic design and audio/visual productions. The annual event encompassed 15 agencies and 120 individual entries.

“I’m so proud of the way CDFW delivers our message to our constituent groups and the general public,” CDFW Deputy Director of Communications Jordan Traverso said. “Whether the message comes through a spokesperson in the field or on a DVD produced to showcase a program, our goal is to present the truest, clearest message as quickly as possible. The SIOC awards this team earned indicates they remain at the top of their game.

Highlighting the ceremony was the presentation to Retallack of the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognized her dedication to the field of public information for nearly two decades. Starting in 1997, Retallack has served as an information officer, an associate editor and a marketing specialist. In 2009, she took over the public affairs unit at the Office of Spill Prevention and Response under CDFW.

In addition to the three Gold Awards, CDFW earned two Silver awards and two Honorable Mentions by the panel of judges. Shown above are Carrie Wilson, Debra Hamilton, Harry Morse and Vern Bleich
Gold Awards
Outdoor California, January-February Issue (publication, magazine)
California Sea Otter Fund 2014 Campaign (media campaign)

Red-Legged Frog Named State Amphibian (writing, news release)

Silver Awards
Inside California’s Emerald Triangle (writing, feature)
California Outdoors Q&As (“Best Bang for Your Buck”)

Honorable Mentions
Nightingale’s Call (writing, feature)
Special Centennial Volume of California Fish and Game (special publication)

Individual CDFW communications professionals honored included Marketing Specialists Dana Michaels, Harry Morse and Troy Swauger, Environmental Scientist Carrie Wilson, Audio-Video Specialist Debra Hamilton, Editor Vern Bleich and Communications Manager Kirsten Macintyre.

Writing -- News Release
Marketing specialist Dana Michaels earned the Gold Awardfor her news release, California Red-Legged Frog Named State Amphibian. Michaels began her CDFW career in OSPR public affairs in 1995, sharing oil spill PIO duties with Retallack, after many years in radio and TV. She now leads statewide outreach campaigns for programs including the Tax Donation programs, Science Institute, the Ecosystem Conservation Division, wolves, rodenticides, endangered species issues, the Paiute Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project, and the Wildlife Conservation Board.

Writing -- Feature
Retired annuitant-information officer Harry Morse won the Silver Award for his January-February 2014 Outdoor California feature story, Inside California’s Emerald Triangle. It described CDFW’s efforts to protect ecosystems and wildlife from the damage caused by cannabis growers in Northern California. Morse was an Information Officer for CDFW from 2006 to 2011, and had previously worked for both the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and Idaho Fish and Game, after serving California as a State Parks Ranger. As a retired annuitant, Morse now works part-time providing public information about California’s fisheries and hunting issues. He is also an accomplished freelance writer and photographer.

Writing -- Feature
Communications manager Kirsten Macintyre earned an Honorable Mention for her feature story, Nightingale’s Call, published in the July-August 2014 issue of Outdoor California Magazine. The story was about Maddie Nightingale, a 13-year-old Redding girl who won the 2014 California Waterfowl Junior Duck Calling Contest. Macintyre has been managing the OCEO for six years, overseeing every aspect of CDFW’s media and public relations, publications, internal and external communications, marketing, formal and informal conservation education, public outreach activities, and related administrative work, sometimes supervising as many as 20 employees. Before joining state service, she was a newspaper reporter and editor for seven years.

Publications -- Magazine
Speaking of Outdoor California, editor Troy Swauger won the Gold Award for the Magazine – again! CDFW’s beautiful bi-monthly publication gets the gold every year since 2008, a year after Swauger took the helm. He credits the outstanding writers and fantastic photographs of wildlife and natural habitat – all focusing on the effort by department employees to protect the environment – for Outdoor California’s winning streak. Swauger joined the Department in 1997 as an information officer, and became marketing specialist after he took over Outdoor California in 2007. He began his career in state service as an information officer at the Department of Industrial Relations in 1996, after more than a decade as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Texas and the greater Sacramento region. The subscription-based magazine is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/ocal.

Special Publications
An Honorable Mentionwas awarded to Senior Environmental Scientist Vernon C. Bleich, a Retired Annuitant, and Audio-Visual Specialist Debra Hamilton for the Special Centennial Volume of California Fish and Game, California's longest-running, continuously published scientific journal. They produced four special issues, each of which focused on one field of study – Native Plants, Marine Resources, Wildlife, and Inland Fisheries. For 100 years, research published in California Fish and Game has helped guide fisheries and wildlife programs and habitat conservation on an international scale, and to support beneficial government policies and legislation. Bleich has been Editor-In Chief of the journal since 2010. Prior to retiring, he was a Senior Environmental Scientist in Region 6, where he worked primarily with bighorn sheep, mule deer, and mountain lions. Hamilton creates the journal’s layout and the new print on demand program that allows the public to purchase their own copies. She has been a professional photographer for Fish and Wildlife since 1995 and has worked in CDFW public affairs since 2006.

Media Relations -- Media Campaign
Another Gold Awardwent to Dana Michaels for her California Sea Otter Fund 2014 Media Campaign. Every year Michaels is responsible for publicizing two funds and convincing as many Californians as possible to make voluntary contributions on their state income tax returns. If a dollar goal set by the Franchise Tax Board isn’t donated in the calendar year, the Fund will be eliminated from the next year’s tax forms and cease to exist. (The required amount increases each year.) Michaels uses a webpage, news releases, public service announcements, a Facebook page, and promotional support from nonprofit wildlife advocacy groups to get the word out to taxpayers. Most years, she has a small budget for paid advertising, but in 2014, there was no money for Sea Otter Fund ads. Depending entirely on what free publicity she could obtain statewide, the Fund met the dollar goal in November and remains on line 410 of this year’s tax forms.

Best Bang for Your Buck
Marine Biologist/PIO Carrie Wilson earned the Silver Awardfor her weekly column, California Outdoors Q&A. Carrie has been writing this column for 15 years answering questions from people all over the state (and beyond) about wildlife, habitat, regulations, the law, hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and everything else under CDFW’s jurisdiction. She confirms her answers with subject matter experts and law enforcement to ensure all answers are accurate prior to publishing the column on the web and distributing to the media statewide. Wilson does media relations for the CDFW Marine Region, which runs the entire length of California’s 1,100 mile coastline. She organizes the Department’s participation in four annual sportsmen’s shows, runs the Fishing Passport program (an angler recruitment program) and is a Hunter Education Instructor. She has worked for CDFW since 1984.

SiOC rewards excellence in state government communications each year with gold, silver, and honorable mention awards in nine categories. All but one have multiple sub-categories. This year’s competition drew more than 210 entries for work produced for the State of California in 2014.

Independent judging for the awards is provided by prominent Sacramento-area public relations, media, and design professionals who are neither members of SiOC, nor associated with any state agency.

SIOC is a nonprofit organization offering professional development and networking opportunities for public information officers throughout California. Its annual competition for excellence in state government communications honor media-related professionals.

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