Iowa State University to be home to the 2020 National Thanksgiving Turkey

November 18th, 2020

AMES, Iowa – For the first time, Iowa State University will serve as the home of the official National Thanksgiving Turkey following next week’s National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation at the White House.

The official Thanksgiving Turkey and alternate bird, raised in Iowa by Iowa State University alumni, will be available for public viewing at Iowa State University beginning Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. You can follow along with their journey to the White House on the National Turkey Federation Facebook page.

“We are excited to welcome these national Thanksgiving icons onto our animal science farms. Iowa State University is invested in supporting the poultry and turkey industries through teaching and research as evidenced in our new state-of-the-art turkey production facility to be built in the spring of 2021. We welcome people to come view the newest arrivals at Iowa State,” said Dr. Dan Thomson, professor and chair of the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University.

The 2020 Presidential Flock was raised by Iowa turkey producers Ron and Susie Kardel, from Walcott, Iowa. Two turkeys selected from their special flock will travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in this annual Thanksgiving tradition. One bird will be named the National Thanksgiving Turkey and both pardoned turkeys will return to live out the rest of their days at Iowa State University.

Ron Kardel, a 1974 farm operation graduate of Iowa State, currently serves as the chairman of the National Turkey Federation. Iowa is the seventh largest turkey producing state in the nation with 130 turkey farmers and the fifth largest state for turkey processing. The turkey industry is responsible for $10.64 billion in total economic activity throughout Iowa.

“With one of the world’s strongest research programs in poultry genetics, breeding, nutrition and management, we’ve long been a leader in poultry expertise,” said Daniel J. Robison, endowed dean’s chair of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. “Our caring and excellent faculty and top-notch facilities provide the best hands-on education for students and the infrastructure to pursue new scientific discoveries.”

The Department of Animal Science will make the turkeys available for public viewing, student engagement and teaching and outreach activities. Animal science students, faculty and College of Veterinary Medicine students will all contribute to the care of these National Thanksgiving Turkeys.

Katelyn Boeding, a junior in agricultural communications and student president of the Poultry Interest Group at Iowa State said, “These turkeys will help educate students and the public about the turkey industry in Iowa while adding to the strong poultry curriculum at Iowa State."

West Liberty Foods contributed educational displays for the turkey’s public viewing area. The turkeys will be available for viewing, as COVID-19 precautions allow, beginning Dec. 5, 2020 at 10 a.m. All visitors must follow Iowa State University COVID-19 policies including wearing a face covering and physical distancing. Please visit https://www.ans.iastate.edu/2020-national-thanksgiving-turkey for more details and current visiting protocols.

Contacts: 

Michelle Hiscocks, Iowa State Department of Animal Science Communications, 515-294-5517, michhisc@iastate.edu