Tag Archives: Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

Wordless Wednesday: Turkey Tussle

9 Apr

Turkey tussle, anyone?

A few years ago while coordinating the annual Thanksgiving Media Day for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, I attempted to shoot a little video for our members, letting them know what was happening and thanking them for their assistance and support of this event.

I had good intentions. Unfortunately, I had one very curious tom (male) turkey steal the show from me!

I happened upon the video this week and decided I’d share it with you, because … well, why not? It made me chuckle watching it all over again. After all my years of “talking turkey,” sometimes the best thing to do is just sit back and see what those birds decide to do!

Thanksgiving in Washington DC: #PresidentialTurkey13

1 Dec

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.com

I apologize in advance that I’m not going to be able to write a completely coherent blog post about Thanksgiving week. I seriously am staring at my computer screen at a loss for the right words to describe my experiences last week in Washington DC.

Thrilling. Hilarious. Exhausting. Surreal. Memories of a lifetime.

How else can you describe traveling to our nation’s Capitol to attend the National Thanksgiving Turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House?

How do you convey how amazing it was to be welcomed into the White House (seriously – inside the White House!), where we could walk from room to room, free to take photos of so many historical treasures?

How is it possible we were served hot cider in White House china by White House staff?

And that’s all before the pardoning ceremony took place.

Soon, we were nestled under umbrellas (thanks to my boss man!) on the North Portico of the White House, awaiting President Obama and his two daughters. We had a myriad of media and cameras behind us and “Popcorn” – the National Thanksgiving Turkey from Minnesota – in front of us, strutting around like he owned the place.

What a proud moment it was for me to watch the Burkel family from Badger, MN, walk out to the ceremony after having a private meet-and-greet with President Obama himself. I’ve known this family nearly as long as I’ve worked for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, and I know they were taking all of this in with their five children.

The day prior to the ceremony was full of funny moments – as we watched photographers from The Washington Post, Politico and others take pictures of the two turkeys, who, incidentally, had their very own room at The Willard Hotel. Teacher Man and I stayed right across the hall from the birds, and occasionally, we could hear them gobble to a noise they must have heard.

Teacher Man took a cab to the Dr. King monument and had an extended conversation with the cab driver about how cool it was to have the turkeys in Washington DC. My boss sat down to eat breakfast at a restaurant near the hotel, only to overhear a family discussing which turkey they should vote for – Popcorn or Caramel – in the White House voting contest. Nearly everyone, it seems, loves this turkey pardoning ceremony in Washington DC.

We even tried to get #PresidentialTurkey13 trending on Twitter! We didn’t quite make it, but we had many people from all over the U.S. share our Tweets and join in the excitement.

Which leads us all back to the White House, where Teacher Man and I were just a mere 15-20 feet away from the President of the United States. We were thrilled to be part of this little moment in history – and neither one of us could have ever predicted years ago that we would be standing on the North Portico watching the President give a short speech.

Thrilling. Hilarious. Exhausting. Surreal. Memories of a lifetime. And thankful to be a part of it all.

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comPopcorn showing everyone that he’s the “man” of the hour, awaiting his Presidential pardon at the North Portico of the White House.

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comYep, we were this close.

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.com

The actual pardoning of Popcorn.

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comHere I am before the ceremony, admiring Jackie Kennedy’s portrait.

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comTeacher Man and the Abraham Lincoln portrait.

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comPiano music filled the air at the White House prior to the pardoning ceremony.

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comWhite House cider in White House china!

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comThe day before the pardoning ceremony was filled with media interviews and photo shoots for the turkeys and for National Turkey Federation Chairman John Burkel (left – wearing the glasses). Here, if I recall correctly, the birds were looking pretty – errr, I mean handsome – for the Washington Post. This room was right across the hall from ours!

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comA real behind-the-scenes look at what this whole project takes – here’s National Turkey Federation Chairman John Burkel vacuuming wood shavings (from the floor of the turkeys’ room) off the pant legs of a Washington Post reporter. :-)

Thanksgiving in Washington DC - #PresidentialTurkey13 | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comAnd the Burkel family with Popcorn after the pardoning ceremony – what a wonderful family and such an amazing experience for them!

01a1066e9858dba9399ee837a5b3439a28ed0913c6And finally … I had to repost this photo at The Willard Hotel because the #PoultryNerd in me loves this! There are so many reasons why I love my job, but this definitely has to be one of them!

Goodnight, Turkeys.

6 Nov

Garden shed - turned turkey barn for Minnesota Presidential Flock 2013 | via myothermoreexcitingself.wordpress.com

My Wordless Wednesday has a few words. I can’t help it. I write. That’s what I do. I love taking pictures, but I love captioning them too. So you’ll forgive me, right?

Goodnight, Minnesota’s Presidential turkeys. They are tucked away, cozy in this beautiful and festive garden shed-turned-turkey-barn, at least for the next couple of weeks.

Soon enough, two of the most well-behaved birds will be picked to travel to Washington DC for a very Presidential pardon at the White House. (Although, I have a strong hunch my farmer friend, John, already knows who is up for the trip.) At that point, life will be all camera flashes, video interviews and livestreaming to the world.

For tonight, though, it’s a quiet, peaceful existence under this big huge sky, where even a gobble may go undetected.

Goodnight, turkeys.

Gobbling for a Presidential Pardon

23 Oct

Presidential Turkey Hopefuls | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.com

I’ve been working on a very special project this month and I finally get to share it with you!

If you’ve read my blog before, then you know I work for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. This fall, one of our members, who raises turkeys on his family farm in far northwestern Minnesota (How far? No offense, but you can practically see Canada from his farm!), is expected to get an official invitation from the White House to bring a turkey for the National Thanksgiving Turkey pardoning ceremony with President Obama.

What you may not even realize is this ceremony has quite a history to it – it’s been held every year since Harry S. Truman was President in the 1940s. (Well, I better clarify – it wasn’t officially a “pardoning” ceremony until President George H.W. Bush declared it so in 1989, but it still has been a long-standing tradition to bring a turkey to the White House.)

How cool is that?

So I’ve been busy working with staff at the office to update our website, gather photos of the special “Presidential Flock” being raised (like the one above) and creating a fun, little intro video of the birds and John Burkel, the farmer who will be invited.

And why is John the lucky guy, you ask?   John is the 2013 Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, which means one of his many roles is to serve as the spokesman for the turkey industry in the U.S., and I would bet that getting this invite from the White House will probably be the highlight of his family’s year.

I’ve known John and his wife, Joni, for a lot of years (and I mean,  A LOT) of years. They have five pretty awesome kids, ranging from kindergarten to college-age – and the entire family will be traveling to DC for the pardoning ceremony. Did I mention they are from Badger, Minnesota? Population 370. (Hellooooo Canada and all that.) And the entire family will be at the White House – talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

So anyway, finally today we had all the initial pieces together and ready to go so I did my first posts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

You can read all about it on our website, but I wanted to share a couple of pieces with you right now:

President Truman's National Thanksgiving Turkey |  via myothermoreexcitingself.wordpress.com

I am sharing this photo because 1) that’s President Truman on the left, and more importantly (at least to me), 2) that’s Grady McCulley on the far right. Now I realize Grady McCulley is not a name you would know – but if I know my turkey history (and usually I do), he was the first Minnesotan to present a turkey to the U.S. President on behalf of the National Turkey Federation. And because I’ve worked forever and a day at the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (okay, 18 years – but still), I was lucky enough to meet Grady several times! He was such a smart, funny, friendly guy and I learned a lot from sitting around talking to him.

This video introduces you to the 2013 Presidential Flock and John Burkel. I pieced it together with a bunch of video footage John sent my way a week or so ago – nothing too fancy but it’s fun. And I crack up every time I watch it because there is one turkey that really seems to like the camera. I’m a dork like that, though. :-)

If you’d like to follow along with this whole project, you can do so by liking Minnesota Turkey on Facebook, following on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey), following us on Pinterest, and visiting the Presidential Turkey website we have created. And be sure to check out our turkey naming contest, too, and start brainstorming!

Until next time … enjoy!

10 Things I Worked On Today

9 Sep

10 Things I Worked on Today | via myothermoreexcitingself.wordpress.com

Do you ever wonder what it is I actually do, day-to-day, in the office? If you’ve read some of my past blog posts or my About Me page, then you know I handle communications, social media, meeting planning and a myriad of other things for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and three other poultry-related organizations.

But what does that mean, exactly?

In the case of today, it means my “to do list” is all over the board. In fact, I jokingly likened it to a Pollock painting on Facebook today. Okay, that was perhaps a little extreme and I really wrote that all in fun, but sometimes I look at all these projects I am prioritizing and wonder how it’s all going to get done.

I get that way on Mondays, especially. I can’t be the only one like this, right?

So just for fun, here are 10 different things I worked on in the office today (and, truth be told, some at home tonight after getting Joe to bed):

1. I updated several documents for Friday’s Board of Directors meeting of the Chicken and Egg Association of Minnesota. These included a spreadsheet for its golf outing in August, basically showing final attendance, sponsors, expenses and a comparison to these same numbers last year, as well as a social media update on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

2. I re-organized some of Minnesota Turkey’s Pinterest boards and pinned a whole bunch of yummy turkey appetizer recipes to a new board. I also freaked out just a little when I realized that there are several links on www.minnesotaturkey.com that aren’t working right now. Breathe, Lara, breathe … all in good time.

3. I edited a short article that will be printed in eBites, a month e-newsletter for the Minnesota Farmers Feed Us project. This nifty e-newsletter goes out to about 8,000 people who have requested more information about Minnesota farmers and agriculture industries.

4. I researched restaurants options in Bloomington, Minnesota for an upcoming Board of Directors meeting for the Midwest Poultry Federation, one of the additional poultry organizations I work for and I emailed a rooming list of participants over to the hotel where we are holding the meeting.

5. I developed a request for proposal for updating the Midwest Poultry Federation’s website, and emailed this out to two different marketing agencies. I can’t believe I am admitting this, but this particular website hasn’t been re-designed in probably close to 8 years and it’s definitely starting to look its age. Ack!

6. I started pulling together a comparison of proposals for the location of the 2016 and 2017 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention, the largest regional poultry show in the U.S. that is held annually in the Twin Cities in March. I’m in charge of all the contracts for the convention space as well as any hotels we use – along with all the communications, marketing, speaker coordination and attendee registration for the show.

7. I opened a Google Analytics account for the Chicken and Egg Association of Minnesota and embedded the necessary code within each web page at www.mnchicken.org so that we can start tracking more information about who is visiting this website, how long they are staying and what web pages are the most popular.

8. I pulled together my notes on a new “Issues Management-Communications Committee” for Minnesota Turkey, including a timeline of meetings and hot topics that could be covered.

9. I designed an ad promoting the Minnesota Turkey website for recipes and our speakers bureau for presentations on turkey farming for the newsletter of an organization whose members are the Family and Consumer Science (FACS) teachers in Minnesota high schools.

10. I pulled together information on handouts and giveaways for Saturday’s “Celebrate Food and Ag Day” at the University of Minnesota’s Gopher football game. I’ll be attending, along with several of our staff, so I needed to organize our schedule, order game tickets and make sure parking passes were in order. (Are you going to the game? Look for Minnesota Turkey on the concourse before the game and at halftime – if you get there early enough, we’ve giving away some fun can coolies!)

Variety? Yes. Some interesting, some more mundane. But that’s a day in the work life of me – and probably for most people who work for nonprofit/associations like I do. It sounds super cliche, but we really do wear a lot of hats. (I didn’t even tell you I had to review documents from our health insurance company regarding our renewal date for 2014. Boring. But necessary. Or the phone call I took about new research on LED lighting in turkey barns. That was actually pretty cool.)

Mostly it’s good to have my job.

However, right now, after re-reading this list, I think I’m going to call it a night and watch the rest of the San Diego-Houston football game. I’ve got my fantasy football team to think of, after all. I’m playing Teacher Man this week and my win hinges on Andre Johnson doing nothing. We’ll see how that goes for me.

Have a great week, everyone!


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