Target Grade Level / Age Range:


Estimated Time:

Three, 45-minute class periods


Students will understand turkey production, nutrition, and marketing, and will be prepared to compete in the Gobble Up! Turkey Marketing Competition’s middle school division.


  • Digital art software - Paint, Publisher, Canva, etc. (optional)
  • Word processor or similar (i.e. MS Word, MS PowerPoint)

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents):


  • Tom – a male turkey
  • Hen – a female turkey
  • Wattle – the appendage below a turkey’s chin
  • Snood – appendage that lays across a turkey’s beak
  • Nutrition – science related to healthy and balanced diets
  • Goods – merchandise or possessions bought and sold at markets
  • Producers – someone that makes, grows, or supplies goods for sale
  • Supply chain – the sequence of processes involved in the production and distribution of a good
  • Marketing – promoting and selling goods, including market research and advertising
  • Advertising – producing advertisements meant to encourage the sale of a good
  • Gregarious – fond of company or sociable
  • Demographic – a particular sector of the population, grouped by factors such as age, gender, income, location, career, interests, and more

Background – Agricultural Connections:

This lesson plan is written to fully prepare a grades 6-8 middle school classroom to participate successfully in the Gobble Up! Turkey Marketing Competition. To find full rules, rubrics, and resources for this competition, please visit here:

This lesson set includes 3-4 days of learning. The first day is spent learning about turkey nutrition. The second day is spent learning about marketing and the jobs associated in the turkey supply chain. The third day is spent working in groups to create their final Gobble Up! Turkey Marketing Competition posters.

Turkeys raised for food differ some from wild turkeys, and from each other. Wild turkeys are usually brown, to blend in with their forest surroundings. Domestic turkeys are usually larger and white. They are white partially because consumers prefer the look of the turkey skin without the pigmentation that comes from brown feathers. Like the difference between brown and white eggs, this pigmentation doesn’t carry any nutritional difference, but instead is a visual preference.

Turkeys raised for food are generally separated into two categories: toms and hens. Toms are the male turkeys, that are usually raised for lunch meats and processed turkey products. Hens are the female turkeys that are usually raised for “whole bird” sale – like your Thanksgiving turkey. This is because hens are smaller and are easier to get home and cook properly!

In 2018, Iowa was the 7th largest turkey producing state, with 11.9 million birds. Iowa produces more toms than hens, and Iowa turkey producers have good relationships with common sub sandwich stores to provide their turkey.

Turkey farms generally raise turkeys in large, open barns with 24/7 access to feed and water. These barns are also temperature controlled to protect birds from Iowa weather extremes. Raising birds indoors protects them from weather extremes, predators, and disease.

Turkeys are gregarious animals, meaning they like to stick with each other. Though turkey barns are very large, when a farmer walks in, the turkeys are often all right at the door! This instinct in the wild would help protect them from predators.

Turkey meat is known for being very lean and versatile. Ground turkey meat can be substituted for other types of ground meat in most instances. Turkey bacon is a popular alternative to pork bacon. Whole cuts of turkey, like breasts, roasts, or legs, can be a flavorful and lower-fat protein source. In the first class of this lesson, there is more detail about the amounts of calories, fat, protein, and vitamins in a serving of turkey. The big picture takeaway is that turkey has more “good stuff” (protein, vitamins) per calorie than junk foods would. This means it can be a good part of a healthy diet!

Not unlike other areas of agriculture, there are a plethora of jobs available in the turkey supply chain. Students may be most familiar with jobs like farmer and veterinarian, but there are many “office” type jobs in agriculture, too! Jobs like marketing, advertising, public relations, communications, logistics managers, software engineering, mechanical engineering, food science, trucking, grocery store workers, and way, way more, all exist – many of which are in Iowa! About 5% of Iowa’s population are farmers, but about 20% of Iowa’s population works in agriculture. That huge difference includes all of the other agricultural jobs that support farmers and our food supply chain.

This lesson set and program focuses largely on marketing. Though marketing includes advertising, it also encompasses more than that. Marketers learn about a product, pinpoint a demographic that currently buys it or that they want to buy it, and come up with plans to get those people to buy the product at a fair price that still provides the company profit. To learn more about different aspects of what marketers do, visit here:

For the middle school division of this competition, students will create an in-depth plan for who they will sell a specific turkey product to and how they will do that. They will need to research the nutrition content of their product, the costs associated with producing it, and come up with an advertising campaign to effectively target their key demographic.

To have your students’ projects be a part of the Gobble Up! Turkey Marketing Competition, you will need to register and submit projects within the designated timeline. Please visit for the current Gobble Up! timeline, and for the full rules, rubrics, and resource list.

Interest Approach – Engagement:

Begin class by either reading My Family’s Turkey Farm or watching this turkey farm FarmChat® ( video length: 6:13).

Periodically point things out to your students. What color are the turkeys? Do they live inside or outside? What kind of features do the turkeys have? Do they like to be together or by themselves? Write down some key points about domestic turkeys on the board as they come up:

  • Domestically raised turkeys are white, not brown
  • Turkeys are raised inside to keep them safe from predators and disease
  • Turkeys are gregarious, meaning they like to stick together


  1. Day 1 – Nutrition and turkey product brainstorm
    1. Begin by discussing nutrition with the class. What do they remember about MyPlate, or healthy eating?
      1. Point out ideas like balancing meals with different food groups.
      2. Protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and grains are all healthy parts of a balanced diet.
    2. Talk specifically about turkey, and turkey’s nutrition. Hand out or email the linked Turkey Nutrition worksheet to have students fill out during this discussion.
      1. What food group does turkey fit in to? (protein)
      2. What is one serving size for turkey? (3 oz.)
      3. How much protein is in one serving? (24 grams)
      4. How much fat? (2 grams)
      5. How many calories? (117)
      6. How much sodium? (55 grams)
      7. How many carbohydrates? (0 grams)
      8. Does turkey have many vitamins or minerals? (Yes, B vitamins, selenium, and phosphorus are all present in significant amounts.)
      9. How does this compare to other foods, like ice cream or pop?
        1. Sweets, candy, and junk food have lots of calories, but not a lot of protein or vitamins. This makes food like turkey, with more protein and vitamins per calorie a more nutrient-dense food! This is good for growing students like you!
        2. Calories measure energy in a food, and they are important. We need enough calories to keep us energetic and growing, but not too many that our bodies don’t need. Nutrient-dense foods like turkey, fruits, and vegetables, help us eat the best number of calories while still getting the nutrients we need.
      10. Spend a couple of minutes discussing what of these nutrition facts are important to the students.
        1. Are they athletes that want to eat protein and build muscle? Are they especially heart-conscious and pay attention to sodium?
        2. Discuss what impact these individual stats have.
          1. Calories measure energy, protein builds muscle, fat and sodium are necessary but are easy to over-eat, carbohydrates provide energy, and vitamins help keep us feeling and functioning our best
    3. Next, talk about foods that students eat that include turkey. Write down as many ideas as students have. Try to encourage more ideas that students might not think about, like ground turkey in tacos, turkey bacon, roasted turkey, or turkey luncheon meat.
      1. Help the students brainstorm enough ideas so that 3-5 students could be assigned to one of the topics. (For example, in a class of 17, generate 3-6 ideas for topics)
    4. Tell students that they will now be assigned to one of these food items
      1. Start calling on students in birthday order, asking them to choose one of the items one at a time. Try not to allow more than 5 students per one topic.
        1. *If class will be fully virtual, you may allow students to work individually.
    5. When all students are in a group, be sure to note which group students are assigned to. Instruct students to also note which group they are in and their group-mates. There is space for this on their nutrition worksheet.
    6. If time allows, break students into groups to discuss their topic. Have students take notes on their favorite things about their food product, and the nutrition of that product based on earlier discussion.
  2. Day 2 – What is marketing?
    1. Start class by asking students what they think “marketing” is. Write the word marketing on the board.
      1. Take ideas from students for a minute or so, trying to guide them to the correct answer. Ask students if they’ve heard of advertising, if they see advertisements on YouTube or during shows. Advertising is part of marketing.
    2. Explain to students that things people buy (goods) also have people who sell them. There are lots of people involved, including people who make the goods, people who figure out how much the goods should cost, people who figure out if people really want to buy the goods, and all of the people who ship the goods and sell them at stores.
      1. This is called a supply chain. The agricultural supply chain helps get plants and animals from the farm to the usable products we have in our homes.
    3. Help students visualize the supply chain by making a production to consumption mind map.
      1. *allow flexibility for how this takes place. In an in-person classroom, potentially each student could make their own or the teacher could write one on the white board. In a virtual class, each student could take their own notes, or the teacher could screen-share a virtual white board.
      2. In the center of the map, write Turkey Production.
        1. In smaller circles coming out of that one, write careers or businesses that are associated in growing the turkeys and getting them to people’s homes.
          1. These careers can be things like farmers, veterinarians, marketers, nutritionists, food scientists, truckers, butchers, grocery store workers, and more.
        2. For the careers that may be harder to understand, like farmers, marketers, nutritionists, etc., add other circles off of them to give a little explanation for what they do.
          1. For example, marketers help sell products by identifying target buyers and helping to modify or create materials to help sell their specific item.
      3. For example:

    4. As a class, spend some time discussing marketing and what a turkey marketer might do. They need to figure out how to sell turkey. How might they do that?
      1. They need to decide who buys turkey (a narrow, key demographic)
      2. They might tell people how healthy turkey is
      3. They might come up with new ways to use turkey (like turkey bacon)
      4. They might make the packaging or logos look attractive
      5. They might try to think of clever ways advertise, with campaigns or slogans
      6. Take other ideas for what a marketer might do to engage with potential buyers
    5. Lastly, have a class discussion about how they would market turkey if they were a turkey marketer. Brainstorm specific ideas for logos, slogans, colors, demographics, recipes, and more that they could use.
    6. If time allows, allow students to again break into their small groups and further discuss their project. With what they now know about marketing, how might they best sell their product?
  3. Day 3 – Project work time
    1. This class period will be solely dedicated to project worktime. Before breaking students up into their groups, quickly give an overview of the project. Consider distributing the rules and/or rubric for the competition, found at
      1. First, students will decide on their turkey product.
      2. Second, they will outline their key demographic.
      3. Third, they will analyze the nutrition of their product
      4. Fourth, they will create a plan for packaging and selling their product
      5. Fifth, they will create an advertising campaign for the product
    2. Encourage groups to divide and conquer. If one student in the group is more artistic, encourage them to lead the advertisement elements. If one student is very math-minded, encourage them to lead the cost analysis piece. If one student has exceptional attention to detail, encourage them to lead the management of describing their key demographic and market.
    3. Break students up into groups with research materials and other appropriate materials. Continue monitoring the groups throughout the worktime, helping point out room for improvement and answering questions as necessary.
      1. One class period may not be enough for every group to fully complete the project. Encourage the groups to first come up with a big-picture plan together, and then portion out specific projects for each group member to complete. This discussion may need some extra moderation from you, the teacher!
  4. Wrap-Up
    1. Consider having groups give short presentations on their projects, what they marketed, and how they tried to do that.
    2. When projects are complete, the teacher will need to submit the final PDFs of the project to the contest submission portal. Each project will need to be submitted separately.

Did you know? (Ag facts):

  • Iowa is the 7th highest turkey producing state with 11.9 million birds
  • Iowa raises mostly tom turkeys used for processed meats (like lunchmeat)
  • Domestic turkeys are white, not brown
  • Turkeys are never raised with the use of hormones or steroids
  • Turkeys are raised in barns to keep them comfortable and safe

Extension Activities:

  • As a class, make one of the turkey products! Include steps like food safety, nutrition of the product, safe use of kitchen tools, and a taste test.
  • Have students write a short response to the project, specifically recalling which portion of the project was most fun for them. Encourage them to look into the careers associated with that portion of the project.
  • Have virtual (Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangout) class conversations with industry professionals, like farmers, veterinarians, marketers, advertisers, food scientists, butchers, or more!

Suggested Companion Resources:



Chrissy Rhodes

Organization Affiliation:

Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation

Agriculture Literacy Outcomes:

  • Food, Health and Lifestyle:
    • A. Demonstrate safe methods for food handling, preparation, and storage in the home
    • B. Evaluate food labels to determine food sources that meet nutritional needs
    • G. Identify agricultural products (foods) that provide valuable nutrients for a balanced diet
    • J. Identify the careers in food production, processing, and nutrition that are essential for a healthy food supply
  • Culture, Society, Economy, Geography:
    • B. Distinguish between careers in production (farmers and ranchers) with those that directly involve consumers (business and nutrition)

Iowa Core Standards:

  • 6th grade
    • English Language Arts:
      • W.6.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • WHST.6-8.2: Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.
    • 21st Century Skills:
      • 21.6-8.HL.1: Demonstrate functional health literacy skills to obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family and community health.
  • 7th grade
    • English Language Arts:
      • W.7.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • WHST.6-8.2: Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.
    • 21st Century Skills:
      • 21.6-8.HL.1: Demonstrate functional health literacy skills to obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family and community health.
  • 8th grade
    • English Language Arts:
      • W.8.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • WHST.6-8.2: Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.
    • 21st Century Skills:
      • 21.6-8.HL.1: Demonstrate functional health literacy skills to obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family and community health.