Tom the Turkey

Tom the Turkey is going to be visiting local classrooms to get children into the Thanksgiving spirit. (Contributed photo)

Tom has plans to renew an old tradition and visit elementary classrooms across the area in coming weeks to get scores of children into the Thanksgiving spirit.

But Tom is no scientist or Thanksgiving advocate - he’s a five-month-old Royal Palm Turkey, according to Betty Heacker, the owner of Wabash Feed and Garden, who is helping to coordinate the event.

And the hope is that Turkey Tom’s visits to local elementary classrooms will help children learn visually about animals and serve as a perfect visitor ahead of the holiday, she said.

“We’ve found that few children growing up in the area have seen a real-life turkey,” she said.

While Heacker and others are attempting to restart the tradition this year, Wabash Feed and Garden used to host a similar event years ago, she said.

Each year, interested teachers would sign up to borrow the turkey and would use it as an opportunity to teach children about turkeys in a hands-on environment, Heacker said. Interest reached such a height that schools would begin calling to book the turkey as early as September, and the feed store would send the animal to between 20 and 25 schools, she said.

Wabash stopped hosting the event when the original turkey retired, but company administrators have been looking for a good replacement ever since, she said. The search narrowed to Tom several months ago, she said.

Unlike many turkeys that spend most of their time with only animals, Tom has been socialized alongside people and will be good around children, she said.

This year, the main goal is all about reviving interest in the project, she said. And the hope is that Turkey Tom visits between five and six schools, she said.

Teachers might spend lessons before Tom’s visit discussing the science behind turkeys, or perhaps they could read stories to Turkey Tom, suggested Deborah Duty, another employee at Wabash.

Teachers interested in having Tom visit their classroom can reach out to the store directly, Heacker said.

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