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President Pardons Walcott, IA Turkeys

Nov 24, 2020

In its 73rd year, the time-honored American tradition of the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation, President Donald Trump will pardon a specially selected turkey, allowing it to live out a happy life far from the Thanksgiving table. 
 
As chairman of the National Turkey Federation, Ron Kardel has the responsibility of supplying the turkeys for this year’s pardon. Two lucky tom turkeys raised under the care and supervision of Ron and his wife, Susie, on their Walcott, Iowa, farm will be pardoned by the president.
 
The Presidential Flock of 30 turkeys arrived at the Kardel farm in July, each bird weighing in at just two-tenths of a pound. These turkeys were raised in nearly the same way that all commercial turkeys produced for consumers are – protected from weather extremes and predators in a barn and free to strut about with constant access to feed and water. 
 
Because these aren’t just any turkeys, Kardel had a barn built for the Presidential Flock. “The barn that houses the turkeys was built especially for them, complete with air conditioning, heat, an outdoor patio, and an area for visitors to view the birds.”
 
Normally, the pardoned birds make public appearances and have visitors from clubs, organizations, and school classes, but COVID-19 has drastically changed their social schedule.
 
Earlier this fall, Walcott Elementary School students developed a list of possible names for the turkeys and voted to choose the winning two. The winners, Corn and Cob, were the two turkeys who made the trip to Washington, D.C. 
 
From an early age, steps are taken to prepare the birds for possible stardom at the White House. In the temperature-controlled barn, the turkeys call home, Ron plays music from a radio to acclimate them to different noises. Leading up to their White House debut, Ron has been working with the turkeys. 
 
“To practice for their pardoning ceremony, I set up a table in the barn and take turns setting the turkeys on it. They actually sit right down.”
 
Kardel, a turkey and row crop farmer, has been a long time customer of River Valley Cooperative. The Kardels have watched the cooperative merge and grow through the years to become what it is today. As regular customers of the energy, agronomy, grain, and feed business units, the Kardels have developed a strong relationship with the cooperative. 
 
For 41 years and counting, Kardel has raised commercial turkeys on his farm. Producing more than 10,000 each year, the turkeys are fed a mixed feed ration delivered in bulk from River Valley Cooperative’s feed mill in Sunbury, Iowa. 
 
“We’ve been longtime River Valley Cooperative customers. It’s nice to see the changes throughout the years.” 
 
The Kardels, along with their children and grandchildren, will attend the pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House. Depending on current social distancing requirements, the Kardels will also have the opportunity to meet the president in the Oval Office. 
 
After the pardoning, the two birds, Corn and Cob, will make the journey to their new home at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. An educational display exhibit has been created for the turkeys where they will be able to live out the remainder of their natural lives. 
 
Though, they do have one more commitment before retiring to their new home. Along with Ron and Susie Kardel, the birds will make a special appearance at the Iowa State Football game next weekend. 
 



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