Minnesota Teen Farmer Donates Money to Wildfire Victims

MINNESOTA  --  Earlier in the year, Kansas was devastated by wildfires that burned thousands of acres, destroying ranches and killing livestock. Farmers in Iowa and Minnesota have stepped up to help their counterparts in Kansas recover by donating truckloads of hay and volunteering time to help ranchers rebuild.

KARE 11's Kent Erdahl explains how even the youngest members of the farm community are getting involved.

Dairy farming may not be considered a trendy teen job, but that has never really bothered Bryce Talberg. The 13-year-old enjoys it so much that he started coming here long before he started collecting a check 2 years ago.

"He's always wanted to farm. Always," said Jaci Talberg, Bryce's mom.

Bryce says the job gives him experience, and if there's anything that experience has taught him it's that farmers look out for each other. This is why when news of the Kansas fires made it up to Minnesota it caught Bryce's attention.

"Because they lost everything," he said.

"He said, 'mom, I wand to do something,'" said Jaci. "I said, 'okay.'"

Jaci knew a friend who was working with the Gilman Co-op Creamery to collect donated hay, transportation, and money to bring to devastated farmers and ranchers, but she didn't know what her son had planned.

"It was his milk money for the entire month. $265. He put it in my hand and I just bawled," said Pattie Vixby.

Pattie did not take the money, and instead Bryce traveled down with the convoy to see the devastation and find a farmer himself.

"And then we met Harry, and the rest is history," said Jaci.

Harry Walker lost 5,000 of his bales to the fire, and it took 24 miles of his fencing.

"He wouldn't hug anybody, and with that Minnesota love we wanted to hug everybody. And Bryce said, 'mom, this is who I'm going to give my money to," said Jaci.

And that's when Harry broke his hug policy.

"I don't know how to really put it into words, but it was joyful, kind of, to me," said Bryce. "You could tell he was fighting back tears because he was thankful."

"Thirteen years of wondering if I did a good job, and in that one instant I know that I've done what I needed to do," said Jaci.

A photo of the two was shared by the creamery on their Facebook page, and that's when the true impact of Bryce's giving began to grow.

"Right now, thousands of likes and shares, just on the one page," said Pattie.

"Honestly I don't really need it," said Bryce, discussing his viral fame. "But after I thought about it, it's kind of nice because then it gets the word out there that people should donate."

"He'd go a mile for anybody else," said Jaci.

In this case, Bryce went more than 800 miles, and plans to do it all again.

The USDA has already set up a $6 million emergency fund that farmers can tap to help with the recovery. The total amount of damage from the fires is still being calculated.