Archives for category: Presidential Turkey

If you didn’t get a chance to see the full ceremony earlier today, here’s the full video from The White House!

Meet the five Douglas County 4-H members who have been helping to raise and train the 2017 National Thanksgiving Flock:

National Thanksgiving Turkey and Its Alternate Coming from Alexandria!

National Thanksgiving Turkey flock via

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’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:

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  • 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 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 or find us on Facebook:, Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey), Pinterest (@MinnesotaTurkey), Snapchat (MinnesotaTurkey), and Instagram (@MinnesotaTurkey).

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.




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.


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.


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


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 website and several social media platforms.

Fun Facts:


  • 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.