School boy raises $1.5 million in 12 months for farmers
HE MAY be the smallest kid in his Year 5 class, but to farmers across Australia 11-year-old Jack Berne is a big deal.
The young student has been the driving force behind raising $1.5 million in just over 12 months for drought-stricken farmers through the 'A Fiver For A Farmer' campaign he created.
In mid-2018 Jack started the campaign at his Northern Sydney primary school with the first free-dress day held, encouraging students able to dress as a farmer and donate $5 to drought appeal.
His campaign has spread to schools across Australia and raised not only vital funds for farmers in need, but awareness of one of the worst droughts in history.
"I first learnt about what farmers were going through after we watched a Behind The Scenes news video about the ongoing drought at school," Jack said.
"I couldn't stop thinking about how hard things had become for Australian farmers, but I had no idea what I could do to help so I spoke to my whole family, my mum, dad, sister and even my Granddad but they didn't know what we could do either."
Jack decided to reach out for help and started sending out emails from his mother's computer, contacting as many television and radio stations as he could to try and get the message out there.
Within days he had caught the attention of Channel 7's Sunrise program and the rest is history, with A Fiver for a Farmer raising an initial $20,000 in the first 14 hours alone.
Within six weeks Jack had managed to raise $1 million dollars and became a household name around the nation, receiving praise from media personalities and politicians including prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.
Western Downs grain farmer Greg Evans told the Chinchilla News he was immediately inspired by Jack's go-get-em attitude and generous spirit when he saw the initial news report last year.
"As a farmer I was really touched by Jack's initiative and have been impressed by just how far the campaign has come," Mr Evans said.
"All the fundraising has added up and Jack's small idea has grown into something amazing."
Now a year on from the first free dress day at his school and more than 1100 schools across the country registered with A Fiver for a Farmer, Jack said he's still the same kid just trying to do something good for someone else.
Jack and his mother Prue travelled all the way to Chinchilla, a small regional town in southwest Queensland last week to pay a visit to the Drought Angels who are one of the charities A Fiver for a Farmer supports.
"I'm really grateful to my family, they supported me and told me to go for this," he said.
"My mum runs around like a headless chook looking after me and helping me make a difference for our farmers."
The well-spoken young man also met with Chinchilla's local school children to share his story and message.
During his speech at Chinchilla State School Jack told students that they shouldn't let their age hold them back.
"My mum always says to me "even though you are small, you have a mighty voice." and that's what I want other kids to know.
"Just because we are young doesn't mean we can't try and make a difference."