January 11, 2021
He has 707,000 people who subscribe to his YouTube channel. Since plunging into the YouTube world nearly five years ago, his YouTube videos have been viewed 163 million times.
‘MN Millennial Farmer’ isn’t just a YouTube sensation today, he’s a farmer who decided to use his social media platform to give back.
“We decided kind of right before harvest started that there's an obvious need in the upper Midwest,” says Zach Johnson, a farmer in Minnesota and known as the “MN Millennial Farmer” on social media.
The fifth generation west-central Minnesota farmer originally started his social media channel to share his story. But as his following has grown, so have the ideas on how he can help give back.
“Last year we had poor quality corn throughout the upper Midwest, and it caused a lot of issues inside grain bins,” he says. “So, we decided that we wanted to do what we could and use our platform to try to raise some money for local volunteer fire departments and first responders who work in these rural areas and work with farmers, because when that equipment is needed, as farmers, we needed to be there.”
Johnson says he didn’t expect the idea to grow into what it did. The original plan was just for him to donate some money but once his viewers and followers found out what he was doing, they wanted to help, too.
“At the at the end of one of our early harvest videos, I talked about the need for some of this equipment in this training, and a little bit about why farmers end up in some of these situations, because the reality is sometimes we do have to go inside grain bins,” says Johnson. “I talked about that a little bit. And I said, ‘we're going to be donating some money towards this, we want to try to help some of these volunteer departments.’ And people jumped on it right away and said, ‘well, I want to help too.’”
Johnson started by putting together a GoFundMe account, as an easy way for followers to donate money.
“And it was like overnight, we had over $20,000 in that thing,” says Johnson. People just jumped on it, and it just kept going and going.”
As Johnson talked about the effort more on social media, the responses poured in.
“We raised over $60,000,” he says. “Last week, we mailed out 51 checks to 51 different departments in 13 states.”
The money will be used to help provide grain tubes and other rescue tolls to fire departments. He says the funds came from not just viewers but companies, like Sukup.
“It's humbling,” says Johnson. “We saw it a little bit last year where we raised money for the Farmer Veteran Coalition. We've raised money for Farm Rescue before. So, we've done this before, but on the type of scale that it was in the way that it took off, where we allowed the viewers to go to a link and specifically donate themselves. It really showed what that platform can do and what the viewers can do.”
A humble gesture from a farmer turned YouTube star who is determined to make a difference by spreading generosity from state to state.