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2022 Colorado Livestock Association Top Choice Award Honoree

Colorado agriculture leader receives Colorado Livestock Association’s highest honor

At the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Colorado Livestock Association, the CLA Top Choice Award was presented to Senator Jerry Sonnenberg for his significant contributions to the livestock industry in Colorado.

Senator Sonnenberg has been a long-time advocate and friend of the industry. As an agriculturist, he has farmed and ranched in Northeast Colorado with his family for many years.

“During his tenure, Jerry has served on Agriculture committees in both the House and Senate, where he has helped to defeat countless bills that could have had disruptive impacts on the agriculture industry and championed numerous pieces of legislation to continue to further the industry and protect it for generations to come,” stated CLA President, Kenny Rogers.

“The Colorado Livestock Association and the livestock industry wish to thank Senator Jerry Sonnenberg for his tireless efforts to preserve the agriculture industry and present him with this year’s Top Choice Award.”

CLA gives the Top Choice Award to individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to improving livestock agriculture in Colorado. Past honorees have come from all walks of life, but the common thread is that they embody a deep-rooted belief in the importance of agriculture to the future of this state, the country, and the world.

Senator Sonnenberg is a Colorado native who has been farming and ranching his entire life. He grew up in Sterling, Colorado, graduated from Sterling High School, and attended Northeastern Junior College.

Senator Jerry Sonnenberg accepts the CLA Top Choice Award crystal from CLA President Kenny Rogers at the CLA Annual Meeting on June 9, 2022.

As a father of four, Senator Sonnenberg is a strong advocate for youth programs and education. Senator Sonnenberg is a champion for Colorado students and their families, fighting to give families more control over their child’s education and help students receive an education that suits their individual needs. He was a substitute teacher at Sterling schools as well as a part-time instructor in the Farm Business Management department at Northeastern Junior College for two years. He served as Chairman for the Colorado preschool pilot program and was a member of the Sterling Schools Building Accountability Committee.

Senator Sonnenberg has won numerous awards over his legislative career, including the 2008 Colorado Representative Of The Year award from Green Industries of Colorado, Guardian of the Taxpayers award from the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, The Common Sense In The Courtroom award for several consecutive years from the Colorado Civil Justice League and Legislator of the Year award from the Colorado Associations of Conservation Districts and Corn Growers. Sonnenberg was also awarded Friend of Farmers Union by Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, the Colorado Farm Bureau Pinnacle Award and Legislator of the Year from the Colorado Outfitters Association.

He previously served on the Colorado Farm Bureau Board of Directors, the Republican River Conservation District Board of Directors, and on Colorado Water Congress Policy Committee. He also served as President of the Coloradans for Conservation and Development. As a President of the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Program, Senator Sonnenberg is a dedicated advocate for the Colorado agricultural community. Senator Sonnenberg is committed to promoting water storage to prevent needless water loss and keep more of our state’s water here in Colorado.

Senator Sonnenberg is married to Vonnie, a teacher at Merino Elementary School. They have four children and four grandchildren.

Pictured above: Zach Riley, CLA CEO, Bill Hammerich, Retiring CLA CEO, Senator Jerry Sonnenberg, Top Choice Honoree, Dwain Weinrich, Immediate Past President.

Colorado Livestock Association Top Choice Award Recipients
F.M. “Pete” Peterson

Paul Andre

Tim Weigand

Cecil Hellbusch

George Spencer

Bart Nyberg

Chuck Muller

Frank Kemp

H.L. “Jay” Rowe

Joe Tennessen

Dr. Rue Jensen

Ben Houston

Tom Ferrell

C.W. “Bill” McMillan

Kenneth Monfort

Evan Slack

Champ Gross

W.D. Farr

Forrest Bassford

Fred Anderson

A.R. “Bud” Middaugh

Neil Skau

Lynn Heinze

Leroy Dalton

Willard Simms

Dr. John Matsushima

John Holtorf, Sr.

Carl Carlson

Carl “Bev” Bledsoe

Dr. Duane Flack

Chuck Sylvester

Roger Berglund

Hank Brown

Dr. Gary Smith

Dr. Daryl Tatum

Ray Powers

Dr. Daryl Tatum

Don Ament

Tom Camerlo

Dr. Jim Heird

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell

Marshall Frasier

William “Bill” Wailes, Jr.

Terry Stokes

John Stulp

Dr. Temple Grandin

Phyllis Woodford

Dr. Tony Frank

Dr. William “Brock” Faulkner

Don Brown

Dr. Tony Frank

Mark Sponsler

Dr. Bernard Rollin

Dr. Keith Roehr


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