EllieMae Millenkamp, a senior in Agricultural Business, grew up feeding calves, collecting milk samples, and completing office work on her family's dairy farm in Jerome, Idaho. Today, the impressive dairy milks around 15,000 cows on 15,000 acres, although it hasn't always been so extensive. Millenkamp's parents started out with just three cows, raising calves for local dairy farmers. Through hard work and perseverance, they were able to start their own dairy and grow the operation to over 100,000 cows. They are still expanding, and by the end of the year they expect to be milking around 45,000 cows.
Millenkamp took an active role on the dairy, working outside in the hospital and assisting the vets with surgeries and vaccinations. She also completed pregnancy checks, x-rays, ultrasounds, and took blood samples. Through this work, she developed a strong passion for agriculture.
When it came time to choose a college, Millenkamp was drawn to Iowa State's strong Agricultural Business program. She also had family members in the state as her dad grew up in Dyersville, Iowa, next to the Field of Dreams. Millenkamp has stayed busy as a Cyclone, joining the Agricultural Business Club, attending The Salt Company, and helping lead worship at the Collegiate Presbyterian Church (CPC).
When she isn't busy with school, Millenkamp focuses her time on a different passion, music. Many of her weekends are spent playing shows and traveling for her music. Succeeding in the music industry is difficult, but Millenkamp is working hard to turn her dreams into a reality. Through it all, she remains true to herself. "You can't let the music industry make you someone you aren't. It takes time to "make it" in the industry, so you have to be patient," she emphasizes.
She has learned how to market her musical talent as a business, EllieMae Music, through entrepreneurial courses with instructor Kevin Kimle. "I pitched myself as a business in one of the courses, and learned a lot from that on the numbers side of things," she explains. Through the courses, she also learned about taking risk, marketing herself well, and creating a viable business model.
Last fall, her hard work and talent was noticed by a producer on NBC's The Voice, which stars Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, John Legend, and Kelly Clarkson. In February, she traveled to Denver, Colorado to audition for the show by interviewing and singing several songs. The audition went well, and she was asked to fly to Los Angeles for the Blind Auditions, where she was chosen by Team Blake. "I was so excited to get chosen by Blake and get to be on his team and work with him. He is so nice!" she exclaims. Securing a spot on the show is quite the accomplishment as nearly 50,000 people auditioned for Season 17 this year.
Although her time on The Voice has come to an end, her dreams of pursuing a musical career are far from over. "After graduation, I plan on moving to Nashville or Austin, Texas, to pursue music full time. I'm not 100% sure where I will end up right now, but I am hoping some opportunities are available soon," explains Millenkamp. Her love for agriculture also remains, and she hopes to return to the farm after a few years to help out her family.
For those who want to pursue a musical career, Millenkamp advises to "just put yourself out there." "Take the risk and follow your heart. Don't let other people pressure you into doing something you don't want to do and remember to be yourself," she stresses.
We are so proud of your accomplishments, EllieMae, and look forward to watching you succeed wherever your journey takes you!
(Photos courtesy of EllieMae Millenkamp)