Gary: Welcome to Turkey U, located in Wilmar, Minnesota. This special program was founded by the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. While Turkey U isn’t a real school, two lucky graduates get to meet the president of the United States and receive the highest honor a turkey can receive, a presidential pardon. That means that, unlike 45 million other turkeys, these birds won’t be served on a platter this Thanksgiving.
Professors at Turkey U include high school students who are training the birds to grab the president’s attention. They know that only the smartest two will make it to the White House, so the pressure is on.
Brenna Ahlquist: It’s kind of scary to know it’s in our hands.
Brianna Hoover: We clap and then we do, like, the thing with our gloves.
Gary: The turkeys are working hard at Turkey U, but so are their teachers. It is not easy to pick up a 30-pound bird.
Preston Asche: They’ve tamed down a lot, gotten used to us a lot more than when we first moved them.
Gary: The turkeys need to be tamed so the students can pick them up and put them on a table, which is what will happen at the White House ceremony. Two turkeys are selected in case one gets sick.
Val Brown: It’s best to come up behind them and grab them under their wing here, close to their shoulder. It’s kind of like picking a kid up under the armpits.
Steve Olson: We want that bird to be nice and calm, We want it to perform.
Gary: Today, all that hard work will pay off. Two Turkey U grads will be performing center stage for President Obama.
Brenna: You have that pride that you raised that turkey that could get pardoned.
Gary: The high school students say that Turkey U has been a great experience, an adventure they will never forget. After the ceremony, the pardoned turkeys will retire to Mt. Vernon, Virginia to live out lives in luxury on President George Washington’s former estate.
Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.