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Kick-Off to the National Thanksgiving Turkey’s Road to White House

What:

Minnesota expects an invitation from the White House to bring two turkeys to Washington DC the week of Thanksgiving for the annual Presidential pardon. The invitation hasn’t officially been sent yet, but we anticipate that it will come later this fall. We are kicking off the “Road to the White House” at the Minnesota State Fair.

Who:

2017 National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman Carl Wittenburg and his wife, Sharlene Wittenburg of Alexandria, Minn. are raising the Presidential flock. Five 4-H members from Douglas County are assisting with the project, helping to train the turkeys to become accustomed to light, noises, music, and people.

When:

Saturday, August 26 from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
4-H Exhibits Building; STEM Center – State Fairgrounds

What:

The Wittenburgs along with the five 4-H members and Minnesota Turkey Research & Promotion Council’s (MTRPC) Executive Director Steve Olson will be available for interviews regarding the kick-off to the White House. The 4-H members can also talk about how they were chosen to assist with this project – through their participation in the Minnesota 4-H “Science of Ag” Contest, in which they won second place.

A table will be set up in the 4-H Exhibits Building with information on how the public can follow along with the flock this fall via the MinnesotaTurkey.com website and several social media platforms.

Fun Facts:

4-H

  • 4-H is America’s largest youth development organization empowering nearly six million young people across the U.S.
  • The concept of 4-H is encouraging youth to “learn by doing”, through project areas such as agriculture, science, health, and citizenship.
    • Leadership development is a key aspect of the 4-H program.
  • In Minnesota, over 67,000 youth are active in 4-H.
  • Douglas County is the birthplace of Minnesota’s 4-H program.

Presidential Turkey

  • 2017 marks the 70th anniversary that turkey farmers across the United States have presented a turkey to the President of the United States at Thanksgiving time.
  • The National Turkey Federation (NTF) presented the first turkey to President Harry S. Truman in 1947.
  • Early National Thanksgiving Turkeys were destined for a dinner plate until President George H.W. Bush began the official tradition of pardoning the turkey in 1989.
  • Minnesota has had 12 people serve as the National Turkey Federation Chairman – and present a turkey to a President – since the NTF’s inception and 2017 will mark the 13th NTF Chairman from Minnesota to do so.

Turkey Farming

  • Minnesota ranks #1 in United States for turkey production – with 450 family farmers raising 46 million turkeys on 600 farms across the state.
  • Minnesota has more independent turkey farmers than any other state in the U.S. Many of these farmers come from 4th, 5th, and even 6th generation farm families.

Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA)

  • The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA), established in 1939, represents the 450 farms and farm families who raise 46 million turkeys annually.
  • Minnesota turkey farms are family – and often have been in the family for 4, 5, and even 6th generations.

National Turkey Federation (NTF)

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) strives to support, grow, and promote turkey across the United States.

Badger Family Receives Turkey Promoter of the Year

News Release

For immediate release

Contact:  Lara Durben

Phone:     (763) 682-2171

E-mail:      ldurben@minnesotaturkey.com

 (Buffalo, MN )  … The Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council (MTRPC) has honored John and Joni Burkel and their five children with its 2014 “Turkey Promoter of the Year” award.

Burkel continued a long-standing tradition when he stepped into the role of the National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman in 2013 – making him the 11th Minnesotan to serve in this prestigious role. As part of that role, Burkel and his family set about to raise the National Thanksgiving Turkey that would get pardoned by President Obama prior to Thanksgiving in November 2013.

“John and his family raised the bar for future Thanksgiving media campaigns with the work they did,” said MTRPC President John Zimmerman of Northfield, Minn.

The Burkel family did numerous media interviews with reporters and photographers across the U.S. and were deeply involved in the Presidential Turkey Project coordinated by MTRPC. The Burkels were featured on the front cover of the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, CNN, a White House blog and many more media outlets. They also welcomed school visits to their farm and took every opportunity to promote turkey to a variety of audiences. This was all in addition to Burkel’s regular NTF business as Chairman and his day-to-day responsibilities on his Badger, Minn. turkey farm and with his family, which includes wife Joni and kids Vanessa, Andrea, Alex, Jack and Emily.

Said Zimmerman: “For the Burkel family’s willingness to give the nation a glimpse into their farm and family and as a token of our appreciation, we present you with our Promoter of the Year award.”

The award was presented at the MTRPC Annual Meeting on March 19 in Saint Paul, Minn.

For more information about the Promoter of the Year Award or the Minnesota Turkey Research & Promotion Council, please call 763/682-2171, email info@minnesotaturkey.com or visit www.Minnesotaturkey.com.

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Presidential Turkey Program to be Presented at Various Twin Cities Schools

Media Opportunity

For immediate release

 

Contact:

Lara Durben, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

Ph: 763/682-2171  |  Cell: 612/554-0920

Email: ldurben@minnesotaturkey.com

 

Presidential Turkey Program to be Presented at Various Twin Cities Schools

Includes Visit from a Live Turkey – a Brother of the National Thanksgiving Turkey

What:

Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) will be presenting a program on the “National Thanksgiving Turkey” to classes at the schools listed below. This includes bringing a live turkey from the Presidential turkey flock, currently being raised in Badger, MN. (Note: the live bird will be a brother of the turkey going to Washington DC.)

While at the White House ceremony, Minnesota turkey farmer John Burkel will present President Obama and his family with the 2013 National Thanksgiving Turkey on November 27 (time TBA).  Burkel has received this honor as he is currently serving as the 2013 Chairman of the National Turkey Federation.

Visit www.minnesotaturkey.com/presidentialturkey for details on the Presidential turkey flock and follow the Burkel family’s journey leading up to the ceremony.

Dates/Locations:

Monday, November 18th – Presentations at 9:35am, 10:20am, 12:45pm, & 1:30pm

  • School of Engineering and Art, 1751 Kelly Drive, Golden Valley, MN (Kindergarten & 1st grade)

Tuesday, November 19th – Presentations at 2:10pm & 3:10pm

  • Jefferson School, 1200 West 26th Street, Minneapolis, MN (5th grade)

Wednesday, November 20th – Presentations at 9:35am, 10:20am, & 1pm

  • Red Pine Elementary, 530 Red Pine Lane, Eagan, MN (4th grade)

Schedule of Events:

Each school presentation will last approximately 40 minutes, depending on the size of the group and the number of questions. The tentative schedule of events at each school visit will include:

  • Introduction / video (5 minutes)
  • Presentation on turkey farming (10 minutes)
  • Introduce the family who has raised the Presidential turkey via video (5 minutes)
  • Meet the live turkey/answer questions (20 minutes)

RSVP:

RSVP is requested so that we can provide your name to the school in advance. Please email or call Lara Durben, ldurben@minnesotaturkey.com or 763/682-2171.

About John Burkel

John Burkel is a fourth generation turkey farmer from Badger, MN, who raises turkey hens (female turkeys) for Northern Pride, Inc.  He and his wife Joni have five children: (Vanessa (Junior in college), Andrea (senior in high school), Alex (freshman in high school), Jack (5th grade) and Emily (kindergarten). He has served on the Northern Pride board of directors since 2000 and also served as a board member for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association from 1999-2008, acting as president of that organization in 2004-2005.  Since 2007, John has been a member of the National Turkey Federation (NTF) Executive Committee and currently serves as the 2013 NTF Chairman, which gives him the opportunity to bring a turkey to the White House for the annual Thanksgiving pardoning ceremony.

About MTGA

MTGA is a nonprofit trade organization that began in 1939 with a mission to foster a successful turkey industry in Minnesota. The state ranks #1 for turkey production and processing in the U.S. with its 250 turkey farmers raising approximately 47 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most family-owned turkey farms of any state in the U.S. and many of these turkey farmers are 3rd, 4th and 5th generation farmers. For more information, visit www.minnesotaturkey.com or www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey.

 

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Badger High School to Host Send-Off for Presidential Turkeys

Media Opportunity

For immediate release

 

Contact:

Lara Durben, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

Ph: 763/682-2171  |  Cell: 612/554-0920

Email: ldurben@minnesotaturkey.com

 

UPDATED: Badger High School to Host Send-Off for Presidential Turkeys 

What:

The Presidential turkeys and the Badger, MN farm family that is raising them will be the very special guests at a “send-off” at Badger High School in northwestern Minnesota.

Minnesota turkey farmer John Burkel and his family will present President Obama with the 2013 National Thanksgiving Turkey on November 27 (time TBA).  Burkel has received this honor as he is currently serving as the 2013 Chairman of the National Turkey Federation.

In addition to the Burkel family, the entire senior class of Badger High School will make the trip to Washington DC.

The two turkeys – the National Thanksgiving Turkey and his alternate – will leave Badger, MN over the weekend and are scheduled to arrive in Washington DC on Monday, November 25.

NEW – included on the send-off program in Badger, Minn., will be Senator Al Franken.

Visit www.minnesotaturkey.com/presidentialturkey for details on the Presidential turkey flock and follow the Burkel family’s journey leading up to the ceremony.

Send-Off Date/Time

Friday, November 22, 2013 at Badger High School (gymnasium)

The send-off will run approximately 2:20 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

Schedule of Events:

Program will include:

  • Welcome by Badger Schools Superintendent Tom Jerome
  • Turkey industry introduction by Minnesota Turkey Growers Association Executive Director Steve Olson
  • JUST CONFIRMED – Comments from Senator Al Franken
  • Turkey game show (with 5 contestants, hand-picked from the Badger community)
  • Videos shown on the Burkel family and the Presidential flock
  • Introduction of the National Thanksgiving Turkey

RSVP:

If possible, RSVP is requested so that we can provide your name to the school in advance. Please email or call Lara Durben, ldurben@minnesotaturkey.com or 763/682-2171.

About John Burkel

John Burkel is a fourth generation turkey farmer from Badger, MN, who raises turkey hens (female turkeys) for Northern Pride, Inc.  He and his wife Joni have five children: Vanessa (sophomore in college), Andrea (senior in high school), Alex (sophomore in high school), Jack (5th grade) and Emily (kindergarten). He has served on the Northern Pride board of directors since 2000 and also served as a board member for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association from 1999-2008, acting as president of that organization in 2004-2005.  Since 2007, John has been a member of the National Turkey Federation (NTF) Executive Committee and currently serves as the 2013 NTF Chairman, which gives him the opportunity to bring a turkey to the White House for the annual Thanksgiving pardoning ceremony.

About MTGA

MTGA is a nonprofit trade organization that began in 1939 with a mission to foster a successful turkey industry in Minnesota. The state ranks #1 for turkey production and processing in the U.S. with its 250 turkey farmers raising approximately 47 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most family-owned turkey farms of any state in the U.S. and many of these turkey farmers are 3rd, 4th and 5th generation farmers. For more information, visit www.minnesotaturkey.com or www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey.

 

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Badger, MN Turkey Farmer to Bring Turkeys to Washington DC for Presidential Pardon

Contact: Lara Durben, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

763.682.2171 or ldurben@minnesotaturkey.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Badger, Minnesota Turkey Farmer to present the

National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Obama and family

(Buffalo, MN – November 2013) – John Burkel, a turkey farmer from Badger, Minn., will present this year’s National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Obama and his family on Wednesday, November 27.  Burkel has received this honor because he is the 2013 Chairman of the National Turkey Federation.

2013 marks the 66th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey tradition at the White House, a highly anticipated ritual, signaling the unofficial beginning of the holiday season and providing the President an opportunity to reflect publicly on the meaning of Thanksgiving. The ceremony itself, dating back to President Harry S. Truman, didn’t become an actual turkey pardoning until President George H.W. Bush declared it so in 1989.

The 2013 National Thanksgiving Turkey flock was hatched July 8. Initially, Burkel pulled about 80 toms (male turkeys) from the flock aside. This group was eventually whittled down to six toms with potential “star quality”, which were moved to a special shed on his farm. One of those toms will ultimately be selected as the National Thanksgiving Turkey, and one will be selected as his alternate.

Burkel is raising the National Thanksgiving turkey flock using normal feeding and other production techniques. The one exception is that the birds are provided increased interaction with people, light, and noise so that they will be prepared for the White House Ceremony.

The entire Burkel family – John, wife Joni, and their five children – will make the trip to Washington DC. In addition, the Badger High School senior class (which includes Burkel’s daughter, Andrea) will also travel to our nation’s Capitol for the festivities.

Burkel is the 12th Minnesotan to have the honor of presenting the National Thanksgiving Turkey to a U.S. President.

MTGA is hosting and maintaining a special section on its website for the project at www.minnesotaturkey.com/presidentialturkey. The website includes pictures, video and a weekly blog written by the Burkel Family chronicling the care, management, and extra visitors the special flock has had. The site also features fun turkey puzzles, mazes and color sheets for kids as well as information for parents on nutrition, food safety and plenty of family-friendly turkey recipes.

MTGA also ran a naming contest for the two turkeys on its website, which culminated in the following top 3 most popular names being sent on to the White House for consideration:

1)      Viking & Gunnar

2)      Gobblynob & Butterfluff

3)      Ole & Sven

The White House makes the ultimate decision on what the two turkeys will be named.

MTGA is visiting four different schools in the metro area with a brother of the prestigious turkey that will be spending Thanksgiving at the White House.  “We’re excited to be able bring turkeys into the classroom because it’s really the best way for kids to learn more about where their food comes from and the important work that all farmers do to provide safe, nutritious and affordable food to the world,” said Steve Olson, executive director of MTGA.

In addition to the website, MTGA uses Facebook (www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey) and Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey) to help publicize additional details of the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

For more information, please visit www.minnesotaturkey.com/presidentialturkey.

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About John Burkel:

John Burkel is a fourth generation turkey farmer from Badger, MN and he raises approximately 70,000 turkey hens annually for the whole bird market for Northern Pride, Inc., a grower-owned turkey processing facility located in Thief River Falls, MN.  The cooperative was formed in 1989 by independent turkey growers throughout Northern Minnesota and North Dakota.

John has served on the Northern Pride board of directors since 2000 and also served as a board member for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association from 1999-2008, acting as president of that organization in 2004-2005.

Since 2007, John has been a member of the National Turkey Federation (NTF) Executive Committee and currently serves as the 2013 NTF Chairman. He has also served as chairman of NTF’s Live Production Committee and TURPAC, NTF’s political action committee.

He and his wife Joni have five children – Vanessa (sophomore in college), Andrea (senior in high school), Alex (sophomore in high school), Jack (5th grade) and Emily (kindergarten).

About MTGA

MTGA is a nonprofit trade organization based in Buffalo, Minn., that began in 1939 with a mission to foster a successful turkey industry in Minnesota. The state ranks #1 for turkey production and processing in the U.S. with its 250 turkey farmers raising approximately 47 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most family-owned turkey farms of any state in the U.S. and many of these turkey farmers are 3rd, 4th and 5th generation farmers. For more information, visit www.minnesotaturkey.com or www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey.