Wildcat Tracks: Jillian Klein Millikin ’17
Many kids dream of living on a farm one day, usually, so they can own as many animals as they want. When the reality of said animal care becomes apparent, however, even the most devoted pet owners can change their minds. Not so for Jillian Klein Millikin. Last year, she and her husband, Adam, became the proud owners of a small farm in southeast Iowa called A & J Family Farms. “Some people would call it a hobby farm, as it is not our main source of income,” Jillian said. “We both wanted to live on a farm growing up, so it was one of our first priorities to move to the country as soon as we could after we got married. I had always wanted to have my horses at my own place. Adam had a passion for farming from helping his relatives in the area who farm row crops and cattle.” Even though Jillian was the animal lover in their relationship, Adam was eventually won over to her point of view. “I am still driven by my love of animals, whereas Adam had never had a pet before meeting me! He has been great about taking on my passion for animals. Although, it has been a quick switch for him from having no pets to owning two dogs, three barn cats, four horses, and sixteen chickens. I am secretly still rooting for two goats in 2024, but we will see if I can win that battle!”
Jillian grew up riding and showing horses from a young age, including her Clydesdale, Fred, whom she rode to win the National Champion Clydesdale Western Pleasure Riding title in 2019. She acquired Fred while a sophomore at Westminster, where Jillian credits the teachers and staff with shaping her learning style and her faith. “I loved the Westminster staff, they were the best part of attending WCA!” she said. “Teachers like Mr. Hughes and Mr. Burke were two in particular who not only made school fun but also challenged me to own my faith.
“At Westminster, I received a great education, plus support from incredible teachers like Mrs. Eichelberger in the Learning Center. With her help, I was able to overcome obstacles related to my dyslexia and ADHD. That assistance enabled me to have a very successful college academic career. The biggest life lesson I learned from WCA is that we are our own best advocates. No one else is going to stand up for you if you don’t advocate for yourself. That and God’s opinion is the only one that truly matters!”
Jillian graduated from the University of Missouri with a General Agricultural Business degree. She is currently a field sales rep for Bayer Crop Science. “I cover 12 counties in southeast Iowa managing farmer-dealer seed accounts where I help them sell corn and soybean products,” she explained. “I work from home, so a typical day can be a mix of office work or traveling throughout my sales territory and meeting with farmers.” Her day doesn’t end there; Jillian is also active with youth in her community. She teaches horse riding lessons in the evenings and coaches local 4H/FFA (Future Farmer of America) kids. All this while managing an online boutique called The Classy Cowgirl and training two young horses. “Honestly, working from home allows me to manage the farm and my corporate life pretty easily, especially with my job being agriculturally centered. One of the biggest ways God uses my faith in my work is by allowing me to build relationships with people while sharing a positive light with farmers. Farming is a tough job, and often, I encounter many negative people due to the stresses involved with agriculture. I feel God uses me to encourage and be a listening ear for the people I work with.”
With everything she has going on, Jillian still enjoys spending time with her Clydesdale, Fred. “Yes, I still have Fred, but we have slowed down from showing at a national level. Fred is living his best semi-retired life!” she said. “He is spoiled by lessons and kiddos and participates in holiday parades and fun shows. Since graduating college and working full time, I have refocused on showing at a local level, competing in rodeo events, ranch riding, and trail competitions on my other three horses. Coaching 4H/FFA students for county fairs allows me to pass along my knowledge and experience in showing. Needless to say, there is never a dull moment at A & J Family Farms!”