Up North Blog

The Great Turkey Pardon of 2020

Picking up Jo-Ella Cherry at Biehl Turkey Farm

“It all started when I signed up for the free fresh turkey that Cherry Republic was giving away to employees,” Jessica Nuytten, Cherry Republic Quality Assurance Manager, explains when asked how she ended up adopting a healthy-sized turkey from a local farm.

She’s referring to the Thanksgiving gift of a Biehl’s Turkey Farm fresh turkey that Cherry Republic owners Bob Sutherland and Todd Ciolek gave to all of their employees this week. Each member of the staff was invited to pick up a turkey as a “sincere thank you” for all of their hard work this past year. (“And feel free to take a turkey even if you donโ€™t have an oven,” Bob and Todd said. “Give it to a friend, or your Mom or someone who would really appreciate it. But do them a favor and let them know itโ€™s coming!”)

But rather than enjoying her turkey with stuffing and gravy, Jessica asked Cherry Republic Training Specialist and Temporary Turkey Wrangler Laura Ann Johnson (a/k/a LAJ) if she might be able to acquire her bird alive, rather than, well, you know. After checking with the farm, LAJ responded that that Operation Turkey Pardon was a go, but Jessica was going to have to pick up the bird herself.

“Oh my gosh, getting the turkey has been so much fun!” Jessica says. “We have chickens and two rescue ducks we got this summer, so it was pretty easy to add a turkey to the mix. She traveled to Biehl’s farm in Mancelona a couple of weeks ago and met with the owner “who was delightful and thrilled to be able to pardon a turkey,” Jessica shares. 

She brought a friend and her friend’s daughter, Ellie, along for the ride to emancipate the turkey. Ellie inspired the new pet’s name, as did friend and team member Joe, (“who also got a second chance and brings kindness and wisdom to us everyday,” Jessica shares), along with the giver of the gift Cherry Republic. Thus the name JoElla Cherry was bestowed upon the great bird.

“Everyday JoElla reminds me to be thankful for wonderful teammates, friends and the amazing company I work for that let me bring home my Thanksgiving turkey,” Jess says.

JoElla Cherry mingles with her new friends at the Nuytten family home.