2017 Arizona Press Club awards
"The chiltepin pepper has a special home in Santa Cruz County"
My story on a relatively unknown protected area for chiltepines – the wild ancestor to many domesticated chilies – in Santa Cruz County, Ariz. won second place in the community Nina Mason Pulliam Environmental Journalism Award.
"This profile on a single type of pepper was an enlightening and fascinating look into how this one pepper grows and thrives. It also showcased its surroundings which include the people who use it. From the botany to the use of it in food, each detail in this story was informative and interesting," wrote judge Alma Fausto, a reporter with the Orange County Register.
2017 Sonoita wildfire season ("Sonoita-Elgin community steps up to help as wildfire rages nearby," "Evacuation order lifted, residents assess damage from Encino fire," "Active and destructive fire season puts Sonoita on edge," "Criminal charges not common for those who start wildfires in SC County")
My coverage – which included breaking, feature and investigative stories – of the 2017 wildfire season in Sonoita, Ariz. won third place in the community public safety reporting category.
"Zionts does a great job covering the aftermath of a wildfire and its effects on the community. She explores the issues from various angles, which is testament to her reporting skills," wrote Naseem S. Miller, a health and science reporter at the Orlando Sentinel.
2017 Arizona Newspapers Association contest
Cochise College Pulls Out of Santa Cruz County ("College students hopeful that local classes continue," "College transition in the works, but bureaucracy looms," "District seeks more autonomy as it prepares for transition," "College faculty in limbo amid transition," "Fall classes in doubt after college extension deal breaks down," "No immediate community college in sight," "Current, recent students may be able to finish studies locally")
My reporting on the departure – and scramble to replace – a community college won second place for best sustained coverage in the 2017 Arizona Newspaper's Association contest.
"Participants rave about their martial arts class – and their teacher"
I won third place for best sports story for my article on a beloved martial arts teacher who teaches affordable classes in a trailer park.
2016 Arizona Press Club awards
"Deaf people cross multiple divides at the border"
My story on the divides deaf people face when they cross the Ambos Nogales border won first place for social issues reporting in the 2016 Arizona Press Club contest.
Judge Halle Stockton, managing editor of the Pittsburgh-based investigative outlet PublicSource, wrote: "This is an engaging piece and succeeds at educating the reader about the issues faced by people with a language and disability barrier. I also appreciate the barriers the reporter must have had to get this story, and it’s important for journalists not to let that hold us back from telling these stories."