The `Tom Turkeythat received a presidential pardon today at the White House has ties to West Virginia University. The National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate were raised in Mathias, W.Va, at the family farm of WVU alumnus Jason Foltz.

The turkeys were raised under the direction of National Turkey Federation Chairman John O’Carroll. Carroll delegated the day to day responsibilities to the live production team at Cargill Turkey Products facilities in the Shenandoah Valley. Foltz, whose uncle Kevin cared for the turkeys, is a senior growout supervisor for Cargill at the firms Harrisonburg, Va., plant. He earned a bachelors degree in animal and veterinary sciences from WVU s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences. The farm was started by Jasons grandfather, Jack, and is now managed by his uncle and father, Howard. The farm has a flock of about 500,000 birds.

The birds are commercial turkeys used in normal industry production, and they were raised using the same techniques as other commercial birds. They were fed a regular diet of corn and soybean meal and were provided a continuous supply of fresh water.

The turkeys will be about 22 weeks old by Thanksgiving and weighed about 40 pounds at the time of the presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at the Mathias farm. Paul Lewis, professor and director of the Davis Colleges Division of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, attended the presentation.

This is a great exercise to promote West Virginias poultry industry in general and its turkey industry in particular,Lewis said.Its also a tremendous boost for West Virginias image.

Lewis was particularly thrilled for the Foltz family, who traveled to Washington Wednesday (Nov. 17) for the White Housepardoningceremony and met President George W. Bush.

Its a tremendous reward for Jasons cousins, Kolby, Kollin and Korey, who helped raise these turkeys.

Presidents traditionally have granted the National Thanksgiving Turkey a”pardon.”The National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate will spend the remainder of their natural lives at the Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County, Va. This is the same place to which the Thanksgiving Day Turkeys and their alternates have been retired for the past 15 years. The farm is a 1930s-era replica farm operated by the Fairfax County Parks Department.