National Thanksgiving Turkey and Its Alternate Coming from Alexandria!


(Buffalo, MN) – 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.

Partnering with Minnesota 4-H

An exciting component of this project is the fact that the Wittenburgs are working with five 4-H members from Douglas County. 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. None of the 4-H members had experience working with turkeys before they met the Wittenburgs and participated in a special project for the Science of Agriculture program via Minnesota 4-H last spring. That project placed 2nd in state and now the 4-H members are utilizing their knowledge of turkeys to help get the birds ready for Washington DC.

“We’re so excited to provide such an amazing national platform to showcase Minnesota’s 4-H program, which is an excellent leadership program for kids of all ages” 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 National Thanksgiving 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:

Special Events

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!”

One of the brothers of the National Thanksgiving Turkey flock will also be at the State Capitol on Friday, November 17 for Minnesota Turkey’s annual Thanksgiving presentation with Governor Mark Dayton.

Name Those Turkeys!

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 6thgeneration farm families – of any state in the U.S. For further information, visit or find us on, Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey), Pinterest (@MinnesotaTurkey), Snapchat (MinnesotaTurkey), and Instagram (@MinnesotaTurkey).