November 20, 2023

2023 National Thanksgiving Turkey comes home to University of Minnesota following pardon from President Biden 

CFANS Dean Brian Buhr and U of M Interim President Jeff Ettinger pose with the 2023 National Thanksgiving Turkeys.
CFANS Dean Brian Buhr (left) and U of M Interim President Jeff Ettinger pose with Liberty and Bell. 

The University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) will be the new forever home to the official National Thanksgiving Turkey, Liberty, and its alternate, Bell, who were pardoned by President Joe Biden at the White House earlier today. This is the U of M’s first time serving as home of the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

At the 76th National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation, National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman Steve Lykken, group vice president for Hormel Foods and president of Jennie-O Turkey Store, presented Liberty and Bell to President Biden in a ceremony on the White House lawn, where the President granted them a formal, official pardon from the dinner table. University of Minnesota Interim President Jeff Ettinger and CFANS Dean Brian Buhr were on hand to celebrate the special occasion.

After two days of paparazzi, red carpet, and fanfare, the now famous turkeys are headed home to a quiet and comfortable abode at CFANS on the U of M’s Twin Cities campus in St. Paul, where they will spend the rest of their lives serving as educational ambassadors in Minnesota, the top turkey-producing state in the U.S. At CFANS they will be cared for by some of the world’s top poultry science experts, faculty and students in the Department of Animal Science and will help instruct the next generation of agricultural students.

Liberty and Bell in front of the White House.
Liberty and Bell enjoy a sunny day on the White House lawn. 

“Every day, our students, faculty and staff work toward a future world that will sustain our natural resources while feeding our growing population,” said Ettinger. “It’s an honor for the U of M and the state of Minnesota to have the National Thanksgiving Turkeys make their home here.”

Turkey farmers are critical to Minnesota, providing the state with more than $1 billion in economic activity and more than 26,000 jobs (Minnesota Turkey Growers Association).

“Turkey production has long been a fundamental part of Minnesota agriculture, and is important to providing high quality protein to consumers all over the world,” said Buhr. “At CFANS, our world-class poultry and animal agriculture experts are serving and growing the industry with innovative research, teaching, and outreach. We’re delighted to welcome Liberty and Bell as fellow ‘expert educators’ on our CFANS team, working closely with Drs. Anup Kollanoor Johny and Kahina Boukherroub in our Department of Animal Science.”