Posts

Follow the National Thanksgiving Turkey Flock!

National Thanksgiving Turkey and Its Alternate Coming from Alexandria!

National Thanksgiving Turkey flock via MinnesotaTurkey.com

November is always a busy month for Minnesota’s turkey farmers, which are ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. This year, however, will place an even bigger spotlight on Minnesota as the National Turkey Federation Chairman Carl Wittenburg and his wife, Sharlene, from Alexandria, Minn., have been officially invited to bring two turkeys to Washington DC for the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey event at the White House. Their special flock hatched in late June and now the Wittenburgs have about 20 turkeys vying for the privilege of traveling to Washington DC.

A video introducing the Wittenburgs and their family history in the turkey industry – both Carl and Sharlene grew up on turkey farms in Minnesota and North Dakota – can be viewed on YouTube:

Today, the couple raises about 100,000 turkeys on their family farm in Wyndmere, North Dakota, while also running a business – Protein Alliance –  for brokering a variety of proteins (including turkey), living in Alexandria, and raising their three sons.

The Wittenburgs are working with five 4-H members from Douglas County on this project. The high school students are visiting the flock regularly to help the birds get used to people coming and going, noises, music, and so forth.

“We’re so excited to provide such an amazing national platform to showcase Minnesota’s 4-H program,” said Carl Wittenburg. “Douglas County is the birthplace of Minnesota 4-H so this was a natural fit for us.”

You can follow along with all the fun on MinnesotaTurkey.com’s website, which has a special Presidential Turkey section that includes photos, videos, activities for kids, and resources for parents/teachers. The following social media platforms will also be a great place to catch the latest photos and fun events:

  • Facebook.com/minnesotaturkey and Facebook.com/presidentialturkey
  • Instagram – @MinnesotaTurkey and @PresidentialTurkey
  • Snaptchat – MinnesotaTurkey

Coming November 16 is a special Facebook Live virtual tour (starting at 10 am CST) with the Presidential Flock, the Wittenburgs, and the 4-H members. Cosponsored by Minnesota Turkey and Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom, the event is open to anyone – just visit Facebook.com/minnesotaturkey for event details.

“The Facebook Live event will be the perfect opportunity for classrooms to participate and show students the National Thanksgiving Turkey Flock while they learn more about turkey farming in Minnesota. Plus there will be plenty of time ask questions during the event,” said Steve Olson, Executive Director, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. “The event is open to anyone with an interest in turkey farming and the National Thanksgiving Turkey project – the more the merrier!”

Everyone can also get involved in the Presidential Turkey Naming Contest on the website – visit between now and November 10 and submit your name suggestions for the two turkeys going to Washington DC. We will compile the most popular sets and give them to the White House for consideration.

The official hashtag for the National Thanksgiving Turkey project is #PresidentialTurkey.

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers raising an estimated 46 million turkeys in 2017. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers – from 1st to 6th generation farm families – of any state in the U.S. For further information, visit http://www.minnesotaturkey.com/www.minnesotaturkey.com or find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey, Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey), Pinterest (@MinnesotaTurkey), Snapchat (MinnesotaTurkey), and Instagram (@MinnesotaTurkey).

Meet the Wittenburgs!

Spotlight on the Turkey Farm Family!

Here’s an introduction to Carl and Sharlene Wittenburg and their family. The two are raising the Presidential flock and just received their official invitation to the White House to bring two birds for the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony.

Carl Wittenburg, 2017 National Turkey Federation Chairman, was born in Faribault, MN, and raised in Wyndmere, ND, on a turkey, cattle and grain farm, Carl had an early involvement in agriculture through his participation in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) in high school. In college, Carl co-owned, and operated a turkey farm in Rugby, ND which he would later sell in 2010.

Upon graduating from North Dakota State University, Carl went to work for Northern Pride Cooperative, a turkey processing facility, as production coordinator and by 1992, Carl was recruited as the USA Sales Manager for Hybrid Turkeys. Seven short years later Protein Alliance was formed with his business partner Jeff Stauffenecker and Carl serves as President of that company.

In 2010, Carl and Sharlene purchased the family turkey farm in Wyndmere, ND and are shareholder members of Northern Pride Cooperative. Sharlene manages the day-to-day operations of the turkey farm and the couple has made their home in Alexandria, MN for many years.

Carl has been very involved in the turkey industry as the North Dakota Poultry Industries chair and an elected member of the National Turkey Federation (NTF) executive committee since 2008 where he chairs the NTF’s Communications committee. Carl and his wife, Sharlene, are also long-time active members of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

Carl and Sharlene couple have three adult children – Nick, Nate, and Wyatt – and one grandchild.

 

 

,

June Spotlights Summer Grilling with Turkey and National Turkey Lovers’ Day

National Turkey Lovers Day

June is Turkey Lovers’ Month® and Sunday June 19 is National Turkey Lovers’ Day

(Source: National Turkey Federation) May 27, 2016 – Memorial Day weekend previews grilling season and rekindles America’s love of turkey with the smoky flavors of turkey burgers, turkey tenderloin and turkey drumsticks. An increasing number of consumers are enjoying turkey for outdoor grilling, introduced with the first annual National Turkey Lovers’ Day celebrated on Sunday, June 19th, during June is Turkey Lovers’ Month®, as featured in its 27th year by the National Turkey Federation. 

Grilling is easy, convenient and perfect for a weekday meal solution. Turkey – long known as a healthy lean protein – is also a delicious and sometimes overlooked star of the grill. With Fathers’ Day on Sunday the 19th, the family can gift dad a “grill meal” kit with the tools, seasoning ingredients and choice of turkey meat tenderloin, turkey drumstick or ground turkey and turkey franks to showcase his skill at the grill.

Whether dad prefers his time as outdoor chef spent in quiet relaxation or sharing his time-honored grilling techniques with the family, the Turkey Grilling Tip sheet at ServeTurkey.org renews a familiarity for best grilling the many choice cuts of turkey.  Look under the Resources tab to download quick tips on grilling, cooking and lean meat comparisons among turkey portions. A choice offering of grilling recipes is featured with photos, and commentary from chefs and registered dietitians.

Consumers’ enjoyment of turkey has increased to an average of 16 pounds per person, according to USDA. Daily supply of turkey meat continues plentiful after recovery one year ago from losses of three percent of the turkey population from avian influenza. USDA projects this year’s total production about 6 percent higher than 2015 (USDA Economic Research Service Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook of May 16, 2016). 

— 30 –

EDITORS NOTE: National Turkey Lovers’ Day logo is available for download as eps, jpg, and png files at http://bit.ly/TLDLogos

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.

###

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.

 

###

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.

###

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.